Welcome to the first post of the Scholarly Saturday series! I am excited about this series, as it will not only allow me to discuss topics of interest to me, but also to learn a little more about some of these excellent topics in the process. Today’s post deals with the topic of Kennings, something that I have loved since encountering them first in Beowulf. Many thanks to Allison D. Reid for mentioning them as a part of the Facebook Takeover event last week for the release of Strong Armed by J.C. Boyd.
Side note: Strong Armed is awesome and well worth the $1.99 spent! Buy a copy today and support an indie author!
What is a kenning? It is a poetical device that was commonly used by the Anglo-Saxon and Norse poets. It is, in essence, a compact metaphor that uses two words combined together to express a visual image in an unique manner.
I think some examples might help illustrate the point here:
“Frozen road” = ice-covered river
“Sky’s black cloak” = nightfall
“Winter’s blade” = cold wind
“Feeder of ravens” = warrior
“Wind racers” = horses
For more excellent examples, visit: http://koboldpress.com/89-colorful-kennings/
To read a translated Old English poem that has a few nice kennings, check out the loose translation of Wolf and Eadwacer at: http://www.thehypertexts.com/Wulf%20and%20Eadwacer%20Translation.htm
My short story in the King of Ages: A King Arthur Anthology has a few kennings littered throughout the tale. Many of them appear in a verse that Artur recites early on.
From wind-blown shores
we rode upon our sea-steed,
following the whale-road
to this unsettled polar-land.
Can you guess what the three kennings are referring to? Comment below with your guesses, or simply share your favorite kennings. Or even make a few of your own!