Could use some help with an (apparently) Old English sentence

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whimsical chatterbox
Joined: 14.09.2013
Pending moderation

The sentence comes from this song

Wintres worma Þonne won cymeð
Norðan onsendð

I don't even know what language that is. Apparently Old English, from what I gathered on the Internet.

Out of curiosity and to help me complete my (French) translation, I'll be glad to know what that means.

Senior Member
Joined: 13.07.2015

I am no expert at Old English, and it's a bit harder to decipher for me than Old German, but I'll help as far as I can:

"Winters ... then ... cometh,
Sent northwards/to the North".

I unfortunately cannot help with worma and won, though. thonne definitely means 'then', wintres is the genitive of 'winter' and 'cymeth' is the third person singular of 'to come' = he cometh.

Hope it helps at least a bit.

Senior Member
Joined: 30.06.2016

I'm not sure it's Old English. I'd ask a speaker of Icelandic first.

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011

Looks like Old English to me. If it was Old Icelandic I'd understand it more easily. The band has also two other songs in Old English.

I'd say the second line means
"Being sent off from the north"
http://www.bosworthtoller.com/023866

Regarding the first I can't add much more than confirm what Regalia776 wrote.
But "won" might be the prefix "wan-" http://www.bosworthtoller.com/036451
For whatever that is supposed to mean in this context.
And "worma" might of cause be meant to mean "dragon" or "snake" or something, although the Old English word for that would be "wyrm".

whimsical chatterbox
Joined: 14.09.2013

Dang... I was counting on your erudition, Sciera. What am I to do now? Regular smile

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011

I rarely have to do with Old English, so...
But thanks for your trust.

Some other guesslations can be found here, but neither seems very sound to me: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101015172435AA35HQP

Senior Member
Joined: 30.06.2016

Typing worma into the above dictionary brings up the entry for wurma: "A shell-fish from which a purple dye was obtained, a purple dye; also woad, a plant from which a dye is got". So maybe it's winter's darkness? Or winter's dark sky? Like the colour of the sky which would resemble these purple-blue dyes. Judging from the whole song and if my previous guess is correct I would assume "won" means "will". Maybe an older form of "wont" (without an apostrophe)?

whimsical chatterbox
Joined: 14.09.2013

Yep, I saw this Yahoo thread too, but the guys are not quite sure of the meaning.

I also found " Þonne won cymeð "was used by another band and translated as "then darkness comes".

Moderator of Romance Languages
Joined: 31.03.2012

The lines "Wintres wōma Þonne won cymeð / Norðan onsendð" come from an Old English poem called "The Wanderer":

Which translates as:
Wintres wōma, Þonne won cymeð >...the harbinger of winter; Then dark comes,
Norðan onsendð > from the north there comes

Except it skipped one line after "Þonne won cymeð" (in the song) which is "nīpeð nihtscūa" which translates to "nightshadows deepen". 1

There's another translation:
Wintres wōma Þonne won cymeð > the noise of winter, then the dark comes.
Norðan onsendð > sends from the north2

Then another:
Wintres wōma Þonne won cymeð > winter’s howling then comes darkly
Norðan onsendð > sends forth from the north3

There's a couple of others on here: http://research.uvu.edu/mcdonald/wanderweb/

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011

Checked an other source: The Cambridge Old English Reader.
And it re-directs from "won" to "wann", which does mean "dark" or "black", so you seem to be on the right track with that!

It also says that "wurman" can be another form of "wyrm". Not exactly the same as "worma", but close enough I guess.
Or it "wurma", i.e. dye. Seems rather specific, though.

So it's "Winter's serpent/purple dye, then dark comes".

EDIT: @phantasmagoria: You are right, just found it out myself without noticing your comment as I only got the notification for it now.

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011

Btw, that "worma" is spelt "wōma" in the Reader. That would have been much easier to find: http://www.bosworthtoller.com/036449

Moderator of Romance Languages
Joined: 31.03.2012

EDIT:

Sciera wrote:

Btw, that "worma" is spelt "wōma" in the Reader. That would have been much easier to find: http://www.bosworthtoller.com/036449

Yes, several parts are spelt differently throughout the whole thing:
http://i.imgur.com/aaJUeLV.png

I recognized the lines because I read up on it when I heard the song (Leaves' Eyes has always used Old English in parts of their songs). I forgot to add that it comes from this part in particular so you can see the context it's used in:

Eorlas fornōman
asca þrȳþe,
wǣpen wælgīfru,
wyrd sēo mǣre,
ond þās stānhleoþu
stormas cnyssað,
hrīð hrēosende
hrūsan bindeð,
wintres wōma,
þonne won cymeð,
nīpeð nihtscūa,
norþan onsendeð
hrēo hæglfare
hæleþum on andan.

Translation:
The warriors taken off
by the glory of spears,
the weapons greedy for slaughter,
the famous fate (turn of events),
and storms beat
these rocky cliffs,
falling frost
fetters the earth,
the harbinger of winter;
Then dark comes,
nightshadows deepen,
from the north there comes
a rough hailstorm
in malice against men.

whimsical chatterbox
Joined: 14.09.2013

Good. The mystery is nearly solved.

Only trouble is, the bit they use in the song seems to be cut mid-sentence. Would it still make sense as a standalone?

Moderator of Romance Languages
Joined: 31.03.2012
petit élève wrote:

Good. The mystery is nearly solved.

Only trouble is, the bit they use in the song seems to be cut mid-sentence. Would it still make sense as a standalone?

I would have probably translated those two lines to fit the next two:

After the noise1 of winter, darkness comes
sent from the north/(it) arrives from the north2
Blackness strangles the daybreak
Winter shouting with thunder

  • 1. since wōma just means 'noise/sound', or you can go the same way as one of the translations mentioned "howling".
  • 2. this line can't stand alone without the previous one unless it's worded like this, then it would make sense to think "darkness comes (it was) sent from the north".
Member
Joined: 13.04.2017

Brilliant! I've nothing to add save that in Old English texts, AFAIK, wōma usually means something like a distinct "voice" or "noise" produced intentionally by alive creatures (or something very close to the animate class of nouns), so that hearing it you can recognise the source. Considering this, the translation hence may be the following: Winter declares (or calls), -> and darkness comes [being sent] from the North. I'd prefer to use a verb to get a better description. Wink smile