Anonymous: The Old English Rune Poem

(482 words)
  • Susanne Kries

The Old English Rune Poem consists of ninety-four lines, grouped in twenty-nine stanzas of two to five lines each. Each stanza is prefixed by a runic sign in alphabetical order, followed by a description of the object or concept that each of the twenty-nine runic letters signify. While runic symbols occasionally occur in other Old English texts, the closest parallel to the Old English Rune Poem is found in two significantly younger poems from Scandinavia: the Old Norwegian and Icelandic Rune Poems. Their existence points to a shared cultural tradition, whose original purpose might have been the preservation of wisdom and learning by means of a human cultural instrument, the runic alphabet.

The eleventh …

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Kries, Susanne. "The Old English Rune Poem". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 October 2002
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]