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Perl Kenning #1

by earthboundmisfit (Chaplain)
on Jan 10, 2002 at 19:13 UTC ( #137740=poem: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I thought it might be fun to employ this literary device in the service of Perl poetry.
Below is my first attempt, a fairly easy one:

Web weaver, form-friend,
Makes task easy in the end;
Highly thought of, often used,
Except by those who are confused.

Answer is on my scratchpad


A kenning is a form of metaphor found in Anglo Saxon prose and poetry. In its most simple form, a kenning was nothing more than a concrete noun modified by a descriptive adjective or adverb which together held some deeper meaning than the literal context would at first suggest. More elaborate kennings made use of several such constructs to paint a more detailed metaphoric image. The tendency of modern readers is to think of a kenning as a sort of riddle, but that may be more a product of the distance between modern day sensibilities and the collective understanding of the culture that used them.

An oft cited example from Old English is hamera laf which literally translates as "hammer leavings." A looser, but more accurate translation of meaning, would be "what the hammer leaves behind." The idea of hammer leavings escapes the modern day reader, but the speakers of Old English would immediately know this.... a sword (what is left after a smith's hammer has done its work).

J.R.R. Tolkien made use of the kenning in many of the songs and poems found in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. My favorite of these is found in the riddle game Bilbo Baggins and Gollum play in dark caverns beneath the Iron Hills.

Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking.

The answer of course is a fish......

Glad is the heart that beats not for itself alone

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re (tilly) 1: Perl Kenning #1
by tilly (Archbishop) on Jan 10, 2002 at 22:37 UTC
    Is this even easier example the kind of thing you mean?

    Makes errors explicit,
    Would have missed it;
    Programmer's friend,
    In the end;

    Spoiler below.

    Why strict, of course!

      Yes. That's pretty good. There is a nominalistic vein in all of Anglo Saxon poetry, thus the naming of a thing becomes very important. So your first couplet might become something like, "Typo killer for the dope/ Bane of vars out of scope"

      Glad is the heart that beats not for itself alone

Re: Perl Kenning #1
by chaoticset (Chaplain) on Feb 20, 2002 at 20:11 UTC
    An oft cited example from Old English is hamera laf which literally translates as "hammer leavings." would the phrase 'cannon fodder' fall into this same category, then? ;)

    You are what you think.

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