I was extremely excited when Kolfinna Valravn asked me to write the text for Valgard av Mors’ Laurel scroll, and even more excited when I found out she was basing it on the Franks Casket (full details here!). I knew that Mors is an amazing smith (making the Franks Casket, with its depiction of Wayland the Smith, even more appropriate), but she had a few additional suggestions: skulls are good, and make it metal. In addition, the space we had was quite tiny, which I love – I love space constraints that require me to write something perfect for the individual in as few words as possible. Since we were in my happy home of Anglian artifacts, I of course had to write alliterative verse; since I had been reading more alliterative verse in the last few months, I had a much better sense of where I could bend the constraints of the form in the process. Once I latched on to an opening phrase and a few specific images, the poem sprung almost fully-formed, only needing some minor editing and adjusting to make sure the flow was as perfect as possible.
Because the Franks Casket has text in runes, Kolfinna and I decided that I would transliterate it. I used Old English runes drawn from my Old English textbook (and cross-referenced with several different sites). The most challenging parts were names: I was annoyed to find out that Wayland’s name isn’t on the Franks Casket (so I couldn’t copy it!) and I ran into some phoneme issues (f/v/w in particular) with both Wayland and Mors’ full name, but I did the best that I could. I kept the numerals as-is, as the Franks Casket mixes runes and the Latin alphabet. This was particularly fun (it’s been a long time since I transliterated something!).
Blaze and burn, bend with fire!
Creation sparks, kindles in the skull
as smith strikes smoldering face.
Lightning leaps from Laurel’s hammer,
etched and inscribed with well-earned leaves.
Metal is molded, melting to the will
of a wright worthier than Wayland himself:
forge-hardened Valgard av Mors.
Inducted into the Order of the Laurel by Eckehard and Jane at Defending the Gate, March 26, A.S. LVI.
ᛒᛚᛖᛋ ᚫᚾᛞ ᛒᚢᚱᚾ ᛒᛖᚾᛞ ᚹᛁᚦ ᚠᚪᛁᚱ
ᛣᚱᛠᚳᚢᚾ ᛋᛈᚪᚱᛣᛋ ᛣᛁᚾᛞᛚᛋ ᛁᚾ ᚦᛖ ᛋᛣᚢᛚᛚ
ᚫᛋ ᛋᛗᛁᚦ ᛋᛏᚱᚪᛁᛣᛋ ᛋᛗᚩᛚᛞᚱᛝ ᚠᛖᛋ
ᛚᚪᛁᛏᚾᛁᛝ ᛚᛁᛈᛋ ᚠᚱᚩᛗ ᛚᚪᚱᛖᛚᛋ ᚻᚨᛗᛗᚢᚱ
ᛖᛏᚳᛏ ᚫᚾᛞ ᛁᚾᛋᛣᚱᚪᛁᛒᛞ ᚹᛁᚦ ᚹᛖᛚᛚ ᚢᚱᚾᛞ ᛚᛠᚠᛋ
ᛗᛖᛏᚪᛚ ᛁᛋ ᛗᚩᛚᛞᛁᛞ ᛗᛖᛚᛏᛁᛝ ᛏᚩ ᚦᛖ ᚹᛁᛚᛚ
ᚩᚠ ᚪ ᚹᚱᚪᛁᛏ ᚹᚩᚱᚦᛁᚢᚹ ᚦᚪᚾ ᚹᛖᛚᚪᚾᛞ ᚻᛁᛗᛋᛖᛚᚠ
ᚠᚩᚱᚷ ᚻᚪᚱᛞᛁᚾᛞ ᚠᚪᛚᚷᚪᚱᛞ ᚪᚠ ᛗᚩᚱᛋ
ᛁᚾᛞᚢᛣᛏᛁᛞ ᛁᚾᛏᚩ ᚦᛖ ᚩᚱᛞᚢᚱ ᚩᚠ ᚦᛖ ᛚᚪᚱᛖᛚ ᛒᛁ ᛖᛣᚻᚪᚱᛞ ᚫᚾᛞ ᛡᛖᚾ ᚫᛏ ᛞᛁᚠᛖᚾᛞᛁᛝ ᚦᛖ ᚷᛖᛏ ᛗᚪᚱᚳ 26, A.S LVI