Winter bites. Not just around me in the snow and ice but here inside. My thoughts freeze; my heart aches with the fingertouch of frost. And I cannot write. Words desert me, they fly away like a skein of geese, high in the cloud-bound sky. Isigfethera. Icy-feathered. I sit and stare at the screen, my eyes glazing. Bitter in breosthord. Sad in soul. So I get up, swathe myself in blankets and gaze instead at the snowbound pages of my notebook. No joy. It’s a no win/wynn situation. Did you know that wynn means joy or bliss in Old English?
"Ƿenne bruceþ, ðe can ƿeana lyt
sares and sorge and him sylfa hæf
blæd and blysse and eac byrga geniht.
Who uses it knows no pain
sorrow nor anxiety, and he himself has
prosperity and bliss, and also enough shelter."
This time of year, this sense of mood, often sends me back to Anglo-Saxon poetry – to The Seafarer and The Wanderer in particular. The Seafarer most of all. Because Old English expresses cold (of bone, of body, of soul) so much better than modern English. Its words bite.
And, even if words don’t love me right now, I still love words. There is a wonderful blog on Tumblr called otherworldly which unearths, explores and adores words. And sometimes, when I can’t write, I go there and lose myself in language. Because so often what we cannot express in our own language can be expressed quite perfectly in another. And I love that it has a ‘random’ function, allowing you to use it as a quasi-oracle if you will. And you know how I love oracles.