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