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Casket by Andy Brown

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The Franks Casket (or Auzon Casket) is an 8th century Anglo-Saxon treasure chest, donated to the British Museum by a private owner from Auzon, France. Made from whalebone, the front, back, sides and lid of this small chest are decorated with runic inscriptions, some Latin text and images from various religious and mythical traditions.

Each rune has an equivalent letter in the Latin alphabet, allowing for Anglo-Saxon and modern English translations. Each rune also has a pictorial value: for example, in the runic ᚠᛁᛋᚳ(‘fisc’), f signifies ‘wealth’, i ‘ice’, s ‘sun’ and c ‘torch’, yielding a sequence of four images. To write the poems in this collection, I determined the sequence of images yielded by each runic word and then used these images, or variants of them, to write the poems.

Using this multilevel technique of ‘translation’, the following poems are an attempt to capture something of the layered histories, from ancient times to present, of the place where I now live: the River Teign and its surrounding area.

(Andy Brown)

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