Ottid eiry, guin aren;
Segur yscuid ar iscuit hen;
Ryauar guint, reuhid dien.
This verse has a beautiful rhythm and some clearly visible rhymes. The last word on each line rhymes ( aren, hen, dien), bringing a clear finality to the clipped imagery. The second line emphasises internal ‘s’ sounds and a sonic and semantic similarity between ‘yscuid’ (shield) and ‘iscuit’ ( shoulder). The third line rolls with repeated ‘r’s. ( ryauar, reuhid).
A fairly literal translation is:
‘Falling snow, white hoar-frost;
An idle shield on an old man’s shoulder;
Very great wind, grass freezes.’
The second line may have been a well-known epithet regarding uselessness, appropriateness, wasted effort or similar. Whatever it is alluding to, there is a clear contrast and comparison between the external conditions of winter and the frailty or limitations of humans.
A shield on
An old man’s
Shoulder is a
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