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Unread 01-17-2018, 08:14 AM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
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Default Meditation on a Bone A.D. Hope


Meditation on a Bone

by A. D. Hope

A piece of bone, found at Trondhjem in 1901, with the following runic inscription (about A.D. 1050) cut on it:

I loved her as a maiden; I will not trouble Erlend's detestable wife; better she should be a widow.


Words scored upon a bone,
Scratched in despair or rage—
Nine hundred years have gone;
Now, in another age,
They burn with passion on
A scholar's tranquil page.

The scholar takes his pen
And turns the bone about,
And writes those words again.
Once more they seethe and shout,
And through a human brain
Undying hate rings out.

“I loved her when a maid;
I loathe and love the wife
That warms another's bed:
Let him beware his life!”
The scholar's hand is stayed;
His pen becomes a knife

To grave in living bone
The fierce archaic cry.
He sits and reads his own
Dull sum of misery.
A thousand years have flown
Before that ink is dry.

And, in a foreign tongue,
A man, who is not he,
Reads and his heart is wrung
This ancient grief to see,
And thinks: When I am dung,
What bone shall speak for me?




A piece of bone found at Trondhjem, Norway, in 1901 was inscribed with runes probably cut in the eleventh century. The inscription translated reads: I loved her as a maiden; I will not trouble Erlend's detestable wife; better she should be a widow. The inscription is probably a spell to bring about the husband's death by magic. Such runes were cut, the grooves filled with blood, and the whole buried with appropriate magic rites.
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