Group: The Quality of Poetry on Scribeslice

Discussion on the various poetry forms.

Most welcome Sir. :)

Asma Ahsan

3rd July 2013


Kennings are a Norse/Anglo-Saxon method of metaphorical yoking of words. This is often used in the epic poetry of the period. Such poems were originally composed in a pre-literate society for oral delivery and depended on the amazing memories of the 'scop' or story teller.They were written down later.

For example the poem Beowulf is believed to have been composed in the 6th Century and written down in around the year 1000. This work has a number of highly colored kennings. Here are a few from Beowulf to give you the idea.

Widow maker - a sword
Wave cutter - a ship
World candle - the sun
Bone house - the body

Try a few and submit to this group. It might be fun.

I can recommend the book 'Beowulf. An adaptation by Julian Glover of the verse translations of Michael Alexander and Edwin Morgan'. It has some gorgeous pictures and a few grisly ones too.

Harry Wells

8th July 2013


Kennings, I found these very interesting. Did not know this term until today. The one I think I made up is:
WORD WEAVER - the tongue

I wonder if some of these kennings have been adopted or patterned from Britain to America? I have heard the term widow maker (especially in weapons) to refer to any implement of death.

Two American terms which may be patterned after kennings. One is

GREEN THUMB - a person who has an unusual ability with plants, and
SPRING CHICKEN - a young person

Jim Miller

8th July 2013

Thanks, Jim. Yes, I think that they all could be called kennings. I like 'word weaver' because it's original. I think that the power comes from the freshness as with metaphors.
More from Beowulf:
Wave cutter - a ship
Swan riding - a lake

Harry Wells

9th July 2013

Some words I have heard or read about that sound like kennings. How many can be used as kennings Harry?

Good doer - A social worker
Wound healer - A doctor
Home Maker - A housewife
Home ground - Native City
Entertainment Box - TV
Wave Rider - A surfer
Data thief - A hacker
Loony bin - An institute for the mentally challenged
Money Launderer - A man who converts illegally aquired money into legal businesses.

Asma Ahsan

19th July 2013

Asma, a kenning is a poetical device and refers to one thing not a class. In addition the kenning has to have a context or setting, a poem, within which it would be recognised as that one thing and nothing else. For example, in the poem Beowulf, we know, from what went on before, that the men are travelling across the ocean in a boat of which they are very proud. Thus 'wave cutter' would be recognised only as a boat.
Quote from Beowulf:
'He had a seaworthy wave cutter fitted out for him:
The warrior king Hrothgar he would seek, he said, over the swan's riding.' (in old English 'riding' meant a way or road so in this case a way across the ocean).
So, once you have got the sense of a sea journey from the context, 'wave cutter and swan's riding' make sense. Do you get the idea?
So, all of your words (and some are quite apt) could be described as kennings if they were with in such an unmistakeable context.

Harry Wells

25th July 2013

I like the 'data thief' one the best personally. My email accounts used to get hacked a lot so I made up this term myself. :)

I will read up on this and try to write something in the same vein.

Asma Ahsan

26th July 2013

What did I miss in here? I see no updates Harry.

Asma Ahsan

20th August 2013

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