black text = note on Old English text
red text = gloss of kennings

blue text = explanatory commentary on a section

[i] feverfew (tanacetum parthenium ) - Pollington claims that the plant now usually known as feverfew is actually chrysanthemum parthenium(also known as 'bachelors button'). 'True' feverfew is a bitter-flavoured herb. It has historically been used as a tonic and to treat indigestion, but is currently popular as a treatment for migraine. The leaves are made into pain-soothing poultices for limb and joint aches, and whole flowering stems are used as an insect repellent, keeping moths away from clothing. [click here for an image of Feverfew]

[ii] red nettle is most likely the plant known as the 'purple dead nettle' (lamium purpureum) which is actually not a true nettle at all; it has no sting. It is a culinary herb and its leaves can be applied to staunch bleeding. [click here for an image of Red Nettle]

[iii] waybread (plantago maior), greater plantain or dock, called 'way-broad' in Old English for its wide leaves and tendency to grow near roadsides. This plant's durability may be the source of the idea that it may confer resilience in medico-magical applications. Waybread was believed to be effective against headache and sore throat. This plant, when pulverised, is effective as an anti-bacteria agent, but it must be used only when fresh as it is chemically unstable. [click here for an image of Waybread]

[1] Of this reference to 'mighty women' (see l. 6) riding over barrows, North (pg. 105-6) says: 'Though it is not clear what the poet takes these women to be, their female sex, riding in flight and throwing spears suggest that they were imagined in England as female beings analogous to the late Norse valkyrjur [='valkyrie', OE wcyrie (see Wulfstan's Sermo Lupi ad Anglos)]

[9] MS flan (with a macron over the n) - em. from Rieger

[10] MS lyte with loss(?) at edge

[12] Rieger emends to wund{rum} , reading iserna <wraost> or <weard> iserna for 12a

[16] MS isenes

[19] does not appear in the MS; supplied by Grimm to complete both verse-line and formula

[21] OE esa gescot ('"gods'" shot), OE esa appears to be the genitive plural of the word os which appears as a personal name (Oshere) on the Coppergate Helmet [click here for more photos/info on the Coppergate Helmet] Os also appears as the name of the one of the runes in the Old English Rune Poem, ll.10-12:

[Os] by ordfruma lcre sprce,
wisdomes wrau and witena frofur,
and eorla gehwam eadnys and tohiht.

(='Mouth/God (?Woden) is the source of every statement,
Wisdom's support and a comfort to the wise,
And the joy and delight of the nobleman.')

Where it appears to be a play on OE os and Latin os ('mouth'). Os is cognate with Old Icelandic ss ('god'), cf. ON. sir . Its root appears to be Proto-Germanic *ansuz, usually translated as 'breath' or 'spirit'.

[25a] MS fled ; em. Holthausen (1920)

[25b] MS fyren hfde ; em. Ettmller (1850)