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A Wheel of Ravens: Alliterative Verse in the Old English Style


Image of A Wheel of Ravens: Alliterative Verse in the Old English Style
  • Image of A Wheel of Ravens: Alliterative Verse in the Old English Style
  • Image of A Wheel of Ravens: Alliterative Verse in the Old English Style
  • Image of A Wheel of Ravens: Alliterative Verse in the Old English Style
  • Image of A Wheel of Ravens: Alliterative Verse in the Old English Style


A wheel of ravens       revelled loudly
Over a bitter battle       of bold fighters
Who lost their lives       and lay in mud,
A feast of flesh       for the frenzied birds...

From Adam Bolivar, balladeer extraordinaire and author of The Ettinfell of Beacon Hill, comes a landmark volume of poetry that harkens back to the adventurous myths of the Anglo-Saxons and the Dark Ages...

Alliterative verse was the traditional poetic form used in Old English poems such as Beowulf and The Wanderer, as well as in Old Norse sagas and the Poetic Edda of the Icelanders. Outlawed by the Normans as a symbol of nativist rebellion after their conquest of England in the year 1066, this ancient form is now all but forgotten. A Wheel of Ravens is the first ever collection of original verse written in the Old English alliterative style. Braiding together threads of early English paganism, folkloric elements-including a speculative pre-history of the storytelling tradition of Jack Tales-and the dream-cycle of H. P. Lovecraft, Adam Bolivar offers an intricate poetic tapestry bursting with myth and story, as unique as it is remarkable.

This groundbreaking work will surely be of great interest to fans of Seamus Heaney's Beowulf: A New Verse Translation and Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology. With a foreword by Dennis Wilson Wise (a noted authority on Tolkien and epic fantasy), an introduction by the author, and a useful glossary. Richly illustrated with images of Anglo-Saxon artifacts, artwork and more.

130 pages - 6x9 trade paperback - Illustrated

“This is the work of a master craftsman, the owner of a true word hoard which he freely unlocks. We are led as a result into a world that is very much that of the Old North, in which the landscapes are of fjord and fen, mountain and moor, wood and wold. The winters are long and fierce, the summers fleeting and golden as youth. Upon this canvas move the full cast of primeval Germanic figures, human and divine, monstrous and alluring, remote and all too intrusive. The verse in which they interact is wrought as finely as a Dark Age sword, made for action and performance and not merely for the glass case of a page. I have chosen already the selections that I shall recite myself around seasonal campfires. This living, glittering poetry is a true gift to the modern age.” —RONALD HUTTON, Author of Pagan Britain

“Adam Bolivar's A Wheel of Ravens, containing his recent poems written in Old English alliterative verse, is a revelation. The skill and panache with which Bolivar has adapted this ancient verse form to the weird mode is exhilarating. We are thrust back into the Dark Ages of pagan gods and doughty warriors—but in their midst are witches, minstrels, dragons, and other baleful creatures. With every poem Bolivar casts a mystic rune that lures the reader into his primitive but fascinating world.” —S. T. JOSHI, Editor of Spectral Realms

“This book must be one of the single most original books that I have read..... How far are we from the Olympus created by the Mediterranean Sea and its culture. Welcome, dear reader, to a novel world!” —DONALD SIDNEY-FRYER, Author of The Atlantis Fragments



1. The Song of the Sword
2. The Wyrd Sisters
3. A Vampyre of the Fens
4. Darkness Fell
5. The Black Herald
6. Fairest Fríg
7. The Wild Hunt
8. Hréam’s Reward
9. Dréamwulf
10. Mothers’ Night
11. Heolstor
12. On Winterfylleth
13 Hel Unloosed
14. My Name is Known
15. Cyndraca and the Wyrm
17. Awful Eormenwyrm
16. Gnarled and Knotted
18. The Silver Key
19. The Wanderers
20. Emerald Éarendel
21. To Sing of the Gods
22. Wódnesmeolc
23. Earth-stepping Ælfflæd
24. A Lurid Lair
25. A Dragon Dreamt
26. The Queen of Ælfham
27. The Crow
28. The Cuckoo
29. The King of Cats
30. The King of Nod
31. The First Riddle
32. The Second Riddle
33. The Third Riddle
34. The Fourth Riddle
35. The Fifth Riddle
36. The Sixth Riddle
37. The Seventh Riddle
38. The Eighth Riddle
39. The Ninth Riddle
40. Mad Myrddin
41. The Two Sisters
42. Birthed by a Briton
43. Hel Lamented
44. Lúca’s Scolding
45. Sorrowful Sigewine
46. Randwulf’s Return
47. Dréamwulf Adrift
48. Æon-aged Ælfflæd
49. Cyndraca’s Wyrd
50. A Wheel of Ravens
51. The Lay of Géac Ettinfell

Riddle Answers
An Analysis of “The Cuckoo”
A Note on the Numbering of the Poems
Image Credits


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