Winter by Anonymous (10th-11th Century)

Wind sharp, hillside bleak, hard to win shelter;
Ford is impassible, lake is frozen;
A man may near stand on one stalk of grass.

Wave upon wave roofs over land-edge;
Shouts loud against breast of peak and brae;
Outside, a man may barely stand.

Lake-haunts cold, with the storm winds of winter;
Withered the reeds, stalks all broken;
Wind-gusts angry, stripping of wood.

Cold bed of fish in the gloom of ice;
Stag lean, bearded reeds;
Evening brief, slant of bent wood.

Snow falls, covers with white;
Warriors go not forth on foray;
Lakes cold, their tint without sunlight.

Snow falls, hoarfrost white;
Idle shield on an old shoulder;
A monstrous wind freezes the grass.

Snow falls, high in the ice;
Sweeps the wind atop the thick trees;
A stout shield that, on a bold shoulder.

Snow falls, covers the vale;
Warriors hurry to battle;
I’ll not go, wound does not let me.

Snow falls, over the slope;
Prisoned the steed, the cattle thin;
Here’s no question of a summer’s day.

Snow falls, white border of mountains;
On the sea, ship’s timbers bare;
The coward nurses many a scheme.

by Anonymous
(10th -11th century)
translated by Tony Conran

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Heading Toward Trouble by Margaret Lloyd

Lately I’ve been thinking about Efnisien.

The trouble-maker, the rash prince, the complicated man.

 

I see him in the north of Wales.

It’s the dead of night in the eleventh century,

everyone exhausted from feasting.

He slashes the lips, tails, and eyelids of horse

after horse until all the King of Ireland’s

steeds are maimed for his revenge.

In the dawn, he leans back to rest

against the toadflax growing in the castle walls.

I find myself heading toward that kind

of trouble. Wanting to disrupt the feast,

overturn the order, throw a child

into the fire to avenge some insult.

And later be perfectly willing to break

my heart for any neccesary reason.

 

by Margaret Lloyd