Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Meter in the Voynich and Baltic Finnic Rune Songs

One thing that has mystified researchers of the Voynich manuscript is the profound lack of punctuation throughout its pages. There seem to be no sentence breaks or paragraph breaks. There doesn't even seem to be any coherent capitalization. This probably adds to the general perception that the work is simply gibberish.

In former posts, I've talked about rune songs in places like Estonia and Karelia, I've explored how they are made up of trochees, the proverbial witches' meter, and also spoken about how old they are.

Here is one below, set to its musical score.
This is the quintessential ancient Baltic-Finnic poetic metre, regivärss. It's pretty highly focused on getting in essentially trochees, eight syllables per line. It's more complex than that, but let's at least look for these fundamentals in the Voynich.
I picked a page that was a pretty good candidate for a rune song. How do I know? It says, "Jelksa, jelksa, jelom" over and over again. That's a Voynich hallelujah!--or some such celebratory phrase found on the depictions of processions and rites.
By now, I know most of the letters and quite a few of the words and can make out a vague cadence enough to make a guess within reason at the number of syllables per line on this page. The average? 16.8.

Of course I think each line on this page is two lines of a Baltic-Finnic rune song and that the rest of the Voynich, though not all of it, may be organized similarly. I would bet you that whoever wrote this was counting syllables or was so inured in this particular prosaic tradition that it just came naturally to write this way.

This stands to reason. The Voynich is of an oral tradition--a masterpiece of the folk.




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