Poem notes

From ‘Ókunna Kunna Þér Runna

By Egill Skallagrímsson

I consider these to be modern versions crafted from literal translations. I was asked by Dr Deborah Potts, of Cambridge University, to be part of the ‘Modern Poets on Viking Poetry’ project; literal translations of skaldic poets, in this case Egill Skallagrímsson, were offered to poets to work on, together with detailed background notes on themes and ideas. I wanted to capture the mood and feel of the extracts, which join words and violence together; there is a tone which feels to me overtly masculine, and I wanted to consider what an updated version might feel like.

It has, at its core, anxieties of war, conscientious objection and masculinity. The compound words are my play on the tradition
of kennings. I have tried to maintain the innovative form, diction and imagery present in the original tenth-century oral pieces, first recorded in written form in the thirteenth century. I’d like to thank Dr Deborah Potts for providing a literal translation of the poem ‘Ókunna Þér Runna’ on which I based this version.

Contributor and student discounts

If you are a student, or if you contribute to MPT you are eligible for a great discount deal when you subscribe…» Subscribe now

Back to top
Supported by Arts Council England

Copyright © Modern Poetry in Translation and contributors
Website design ashbydesign
Developed by Code Frontiers
Powered by Storemill