How to Write a Kenning Poem

The word ‘kenning’ comes from the Old Norse verb ‘kenna’, which means ‘to describe’ or ‘to understand’. Kennings were originally written in Old English or Old Norse. A kenning describes something familiar in an unusual way, without using its name. Kennings are often used in poetry for effect.

A kenning uses a two-word phrase (usually a noun and a verb) in place of a one-word noun. For example, a kenning describing a dog can describe it as a ‘tail-wagger’ or ‘bone-chewer’. Thus, a kenning describes something without actually naming it. A poem with kennings is generally in th
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