Books, mythology, Philosophy



The skaldic poets, for it is they

who are ultimately responsible for these stories,

used ‘kennings’ in their work.


A ‘kenning’ or ‘knowing’ is,

for want of a better expression,

a riddle, a metaphor and a mnemonic in one.


To ‘unpack’ the kenning, then, is to relate the story.


‘Kvasir’s Blood’ is a kenning for wisdom,

for reasons with which we are now familiar.


‘Freyja’s Tears’ is a kenning for gold, for when promised

to an unsuitable suitor in one myth

the goddess weeps tears of gold, and so on…


We need the context in order to understand,

or ‘crack’, the kenning.


2 thoughts on “Skalds…”

  1. That makes good sense, Stuart. Context is all important for understanding most everything I think. I know that I cannot always understand things without some sort of context. I am just thinking of an example. This is simple, but if we use the word “tree,” we may be talking of a tree in a forest or one in a yard or one being cut down to serve the Yuletide, or we may be speaking of a clothes tree, or the tree of life. The tree of life has a sacred context while the others do not.

    Liked by 1 person

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