NaPoWriMo Day Thirteen – Kennings

Death of Viking Poet

Cattle-kin writes
Grimnir’s lip-streams to prove
Pen is mightier than blood-worm
Straw death


NaPoWriMo Prompt – Our optional prompt for today is to write a poem that contains at least one kenning. Kennings were metaphorical phrases developed in Nordic sagas. At their simplest, they generally consist of two nouns joined together, which imaginatively describe or name a third thing. The phrase “whale road,” for example, could be used instead of “sea” or “ocean,” and “sky candle” could be used for “sun.” The kennings used in Nordic sagas eventually got so complex that you basically needed a decoder-ring to figure them out. And Vikings being Vikings, there tended to be an awful lot of kennings for swords, warriors, ships, and gold. But at their best, they are suprising and evocative. I hope you have fun trying to invent your own. Happy writing!


I did not invent my own.  When I heard Kennings were Viking phrases, I went to my Viking expert, Sandi Layne, author of the Eire’s Viking Trilogy.  She sent me a link to a great list of kennings.  Cattle-kin caught my interest because I can relate. 😉 So I put together a fun cinquain about a straw death; something of which no Viking would be proud, but it did give me the opportunity to use one of the many kennings for sword.  By the way, there are great battles in Ms. Layne’s novels and very few straw deaths I’m sure.

4 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo Day Thirteen – Kennings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s