The Meaning Behind ‘Vinland Saga’s’ ‘Carve It’ Poem Explained!

The Meaning Behind Vinland Saga's "Carve It" Poem Explained!
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The diversity of modern-day manga and anime is something that is a well-known fact, but some titles manage to stand out even among such harsh competition. Vinland Saga is one such title, as it stands out among the lot for its accurate depiction of historical events, the authenticity of the content, as well as the fact that it is focused on European rather than Asian (Japanese or Chinese) history. Now, while we have already discussed the historical accuracy of numerous Vinland Saga characters, we also have to discuss some important plot elements from the series that will eventually lead to your better understanding of the lore. One of them is the famous “Carve It” poem that we saw in the second season of the anime, and that also did appear in the original manga. In this article, we are going to explain the meaning behind this poem.

The “Carve It” poem has a deep symbolic meaning in the Vinland Saga series. It holds no narrative value but shows just how deeply some things have been carved into the characters and the places they visited and how important history is for the future. Our memories, the enemies we’ve faced, and the scars we are carrying all of them add up to us in the present and influence our future in one way on another. This is why the symbolic importance of this poem is so great and why the poem itself deserves an analysis, despite being less important from a narrative standpoint.

As you might presume, the rest of this article will be focused on the poem we heard in the second season of the Vinland Saga manga. The “Carve It” poem is not necessarily an important plot element, but it is an interesting one, and that is why we have decided to explore it here and analyze it here for you. We will give you the complete transcript of the poem and tell you its meaning and symbolic value for the plot of Vinland Saga. We must warn you that this article could contain minor spoilers.

The meaning of Vinland Saga‘s “Carve It” poem explained

Now, before we get to the actual explanation, allow us to first present the poem to you:

Icelandic version (anime)

rist Þú

ristu í líkamann

ristu í jörðu

ristu í sjó

ristu í bráð

ristu í Fjandmann

rist Þú

rist Þú

ristu minni í mig

Japanese original (manga)

刻め

身体に刻め

大地に刻め

海に刻め

敵に刻め

獲物に刻め

刻め

刻め

その温もりを私に刻め

English translation (manga)

Carve

Carve it into the body

Carve it into the ground

Carve it into the ocean

Carve it into your enemies

Carve it into your victims

Carve

Carve

Carve that warmth into me

Now, there are three versions of this poem, as you can see, and there are some notes we have to make before we actually explain its meaning. First of all, the “Nordic” version of the poem is actually in modern-day Icelandic, so it’s not in Norse; the languages are similar in their vocabularies and orthographies, but this is definitely modern Icelandic and not Old Norse.

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Secondly, the anime version and the original manga version are different, as the 5th and 6th lines are swapped in the official translation used in the anime. Also, there is the issue of the word “minni” used in the anime, which actually means memories, whereas “温もり” (nukumori) in Japanese means “warmth” and not memories.

Why the change was made is unknown, but it could be that the original Japanese text referred to the warmth of the memories, whereas the anime version was more precise. Be that as it may, thanks to Reddit users hyouganofukurou and EgNotaEkkiReddit for the translations and the linguistic remarks – we couldn’t have written this article without you guys!

Now to the poem. If you look back at the anime, you’ll remember that the words of the poem were accompanied by some specific scenes. The first line accompanies the scene in which Olmar works in the fields with the woman he once slept with. The second and third verses appear alongside a scene showing Fox, Badger, and another of Snake’s soldiers working the fields.

The fourth verse accompanies the scene showing Leif Ericson smiling while sailing and looking out at the water. The next two verses are accompanied by a scene of an angry Thorgil, who is shown to be walking on an unknown land, as well as slaves taken as spoils of raiding. The next phrases accompany a simple scene of plows hitting the soil. Ultimately, the final verse is actually accompanied by a scene of Einar and Thorfinn’s boat sailing onward.

So, what does all of this mean in the end? Well, the author has not provided us with an official explanation, and analyzing poems is always tricky because there are numerous interpretations out there, as everyone can read something different into it, but we think we’re on track with the explanation we are about to give you, as we’ve used the facts from the series to support our analysis.

Namely, the song’s words are as they are, but since some specific scenes follow them, we can give them some meaning that they might not have had without these scenes.

From what we can see, all of these scenes show something carved inside something, be it inside the body, the mind, or the soil. They speak of the characters’ pasts and what they carry with them. The traces of these memories are warm, as the final verse suggests, and they are carved inside the soil of Vinland, as well as the characters in the series.

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They might not always be pleasant, as some verses suggest; they are also unknown at times, but they are all a reference to the memories that built the present characters and that are going to build their future versions, which have these memories carved inside them. And that is, we think, what this poem actually wanted to tell us in the first place – the memories and experiences we’ve had shape us and help us step forward into the future.

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