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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vellekla — Eskál VellI

Einarr skálaglamm Helgason

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 280.

 

Hugstóran biðk heyra
— heyr, jarl, Kvasis dreyra —
foldar vǫrð á fyrða
fjarðleggjar brim dreggjar.
 
‘I bid the high-minded guardian of the land [RULER = Hákon jarl] listen to the surf of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS > POEM]; hear, jarl, the blood of Kvasir <mythical being> [POEM].
Nús, þats Boðnar bára
(berg-Saxa) tér vaxa
(gervi í hǫll ok hlýði
hljóð fley jǫfurs þjóðir).
 
‘Now it happens that the wave of Boðn <mythical vat> [POEM] grows; may the retinue of the ruler give a hearing in the hall and listen to the ship (líð ‘ale’) of the rock-Saxons [GIANTS > POEM].
Eisar vágr fyr vísa
(verk) Rǫgnis (mér hagna);
þýtr Óðrœris alda
ǫldrhafs við fles galdra.
 
‘The wave of Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> [POEM] roars before the ruler; the works are successful for me; the wave of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM] booms against the skerry of incantations [TEETH].
Ullar gengr of alla
asksǫgn, þess’s hvǫt magnar,
byrgis bǫðvar sorgar,
bergs grynnilô dverga.
 
‘The shoal-wave of the rock of dwarfs [POEM] passes over the entire ship’s crew of the Ullr <god> of the sorrow of the fence of battle [SHIELD > SWORD > WARRIOR = Hákon], who increases boldness.
Hljóta munk, né hlítik,
hertýs, of þat frýju,
fyr ǫrþeysi at ausa
austr vín-Gnóðar flausta.
 
‘It will fall to me to bale out the bilge-water of the Gnóð <ship> of the wine of the army-god [(lit. ‘bilge-water of the wine-Gnóð of the army-god’) = Óðinn > POEM > VAT > POEM] for the valiant racer of ships [SEAFARER = Hákon]; I will not endure a reproach on account of it.
Ok oddneytir úti
eiðvandr flota breiðan
glaðr í Gǫndlar veðrum
— gramr svafði bil — hafði.
Ok rauðmána reynir
rógsegl Heðins bóga
upp hóf jǫfra kappi
etjulund at setja.
 
‘And the oath-true arrow-user [WARRIOR], glad in the winds of Gǫndul <valkyrie> [BATTLES], had a great fleet out at sea; the ruler ended delay. And the tester of the red moon of the arm of Heðinn <legendary hero> [SHIELD > WARRIOR] raised the strife-sail [SHIELD] with the vigour of rulers to calm the spirit of aggression.
Vasat ofbyrjar ǫrva
odda vífs né drífu
sverða sverrifjarðar
svanglýjaði at frýja.
Brak-Rǫgnir skók bogna
(barg óþyrmir varga)
hagl ór Hlakkar segli
hjǫrs (rakkliga fjǫrvi).
 
‘One did not have to taunt the delighter of the swan of the seething fjord of swords [BLOOD > RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR] [into joining] the strong wind of arrows [BATTLE] nor the snow-storm of the woman of weapon-points [VALKYRIE > BATTLE]. The Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> of the noise of the sword [(lit. ‘noise-Rǫgnir of the sword’) BATTLE > WARRIOR] shook the hail of bows [ARROWS] out of the sail of Hlǫkk <valkyrie> [SHIELD]; the crusher of outlaws [RULER] bravely saved his life.
Mart varð él, áðr, Ála,
austr lǫnd at mun banda
randar lauks af ríki,
rœkilundr of tœki.
 
‘Many a storm of Áli <sea-king> [BATTLE] came about before the tending-tree of the leek of the shield [SWORD > WARRIOR] took the lands in the east by force at the will of the gods.
Berk fyr hefnð, þás Hrafna
(hljóm*) lof (togins skjóma
þann) nam vǫrðr at vinna
(vann) síns fǫður hranna.
 
‘I bear praise for the revenge that the guardian of the Hrafnar <horses> of the waves [SHIPS > SEAFARER] took for his father; [he] made the din of the drawn sword [BATTLE].
Rignði hjǫrs á hersa
hríðremmis fjǫr víða
— þrimlundr of jók Þundi
þegns gnótt — méilregni.
Ok hald-Viðurr haulda
haffaxa lét vaxa
Laufa veðr at lífi
lífkǫld Hôars drífu.
 
‘The arrow-rain [BATTLE] of the strengthener of the storm of the sword [(lit. ‘storm-strengthener of the sword’) BATTLE > WARRIOR] rained widely on the life of the hersar; the battle-minded one increased the abundance of retainers for Þundr <= Óðinn>. And the steering Viðurr <= Óðinn> of sea-horses [SHIPS > SEAFARER] let the life-cold storms of Laufi <sword> [BATTLES] grow against the life of men in the snow-storm of Hárr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE].
Hjalmgrápi vann hilmir
harðr (Lopts vinar) barða
(því kom vǫxtr í Vínu
vínheims) fíandr sína.
Ok forsnjallir fellu
fúrs í Þróttar skúrum
(þat fær þjóðar snytri)
þrír jarls synir (tírar).
 
‘The hardy ruler had his enemies pelted with helmet-hail [BATTLE]; therefore, growth came to the Vína <river> of the wine-world of the friend of Loptr <= Loki> [= Óðinn > VAT > POEM]. And three exceedingly brave sons of a jarl fell in the showers of the fire of Þróttr <= Óðinn> [SWORD > BATTLE]; that brings glory to the instructor of the people [RULER = Hákon jarl].
Hvarfat aptr, áðr erfðan,
óðstafr, fǫður hafði,
(herforðuðr réð Hǫrða)
hjǫrveðrs (konungs fjǫrvi).
Varðat Freyr, sás fœri,
folkskíðs, né mun síðan,
— því bregðr ǫld við aðra —
jarls ríki framm slíku.
 
‘The furious stave of the sword-storm [BATTLE > WARRIOR] did not return before he had done honour to his father’s memory; the army-protector [RULER] had power over the life of the king of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr gráfeldr]. There has not been a Freyr <god> of the battle-ski [SWORD > WARRIOR], nor will there be afterwards, who proceeded with such power of a jarl; so say the people to one another.
Sjau fylkjum kom silkis
(snúnaðr vas þat) brúna
geymir grundar síma
grandvarr und sik (landi).
 
‘The damage-wary keeper of the silken band of the land of the brows [HEAD > HEADBAND > RULER] brought seven fylki under himself; that was a change for the better for the land.
Ǫll lét senn inn svinni
sǫnn Einriða mǫnnum
herjum kunn of herjuð
hofs lǫnd ok vé banda,
áðr veg jǫtna vitni
valfalls of sæ allan
— þeim stýra goð — geira
garðs Hlórriði farði.
 
‘The wise one soon made all the harried lands of the temple of Einriði <= Þórr> and the sanctuaries of the gods, famous among the peoples, lawful for men, before the Hlórriði <= Þórr> of the fence of spears [SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] ferried evidence of slaughter to the path of the giants [MOUNTAINS = Norway?] across all the sea; the gods guide him.
Ok herþarfir hverfa
(Hlakkar móts) til blóta
(rauðbríkar fremsk rœkir
ríkr) ásmegir (slíku).
Nú grœr jǫrð sem áðan;
aptr geirbrúar hapta
auðrýrir lætr ôru
óhryggva vé byggva.
 
‘And the sons of the Æsir, beneficial to the people, turn to the sacrifices; the powerful keeper of the red board of the meeting of Hlǫkk <valkyrie> [BATTLE > SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] prospers from this. Now the earth flourishes as before; the wealth-diminisher [GENEROUS MAN] lets the messengers of the spear-bridge [SHIELD > WARRIORS] once again inhabit the sanctuaries of the gods without sorrow.
Nú liggr allt und jarli
(ímunborðs) fyr norðan
(veðrgœðis stendr víða)
Vík (Hôkunar ríki).
 
‘Now everything north of Viken lies under the jarl’s rule; the realm of Hákon, the increaser of the storm of the battle-board [(lit. ‘storm-increaser of the battle-board’) SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR], stretches far and wide.
Engi varð á jǫrðu
ættum góðr nema Fróði
gæti-Njǫrðr, sás gerði,
geirbríkar, frið slíkan.
 
‘No well-descended guarding-Njǫrðr <god> of the spear-board [SHIELD > WARRIOR] lived on earth who made such peace, except Fróði.
Enn reið ǫðru sinni
jarl borðmǫrum norðan;
sǫngherðir lét sverða
sótt Ragnfrøði at móti.
 
‘Yet a second time the jarl rode the gunwale-horses [SHIPS] from the north; the strengthener of the song of swords [(lit. ‘song-strengthener of swords’) BATTLE > RULER] advanced to an encounter with Ragnfrøðr.
Hóf und hyrjar kneyfi
— hraut unda fjǫl — Þundar
— þat sleit víg á vági —
vandar dýr at landi.
Né fjǫlsnerrinn fyrri
fégildandi vildi
— vægðit jarl fyr jǫfri —
Yggs niðr friðar biðja.
 
‘The beast of the mast [SHIP] was carried towards land under the destroyer of the fire of Þundr <= Óðinn> [SWORD > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl]; a multitude of wounds spurted; that broke off the battle on the sea. The war-seasoned generous descendant of Yggr <= Óðinn> [= Hákon jarl] did not want to be the first to ask for peace; the jarl did not yield to the prince.
Búinn lézk valdr, ef vildi
valmey konungr heyja,
haulda morðs at halda
— herr fell of gram — velli.
 
‘The controller of the killing of men [BATTLE > RULER = Hákon jarl] declared himself ready to hold the field, if the king [Ragnfrøðr] wanted to wage the maiden of the battle-slain [VALKYRIE = Hildr (hildr ‘battle’)]; the host fell around the ruler.
Hitt vas meir, at Mœra
morðfíkinn lét norðan
folkverjandi fyrva
fǫr til Sogns of gǫrva.
Ýtti Freyr af fjórum
folklǫndum — sá branda
Ullr stóð af því allri
yrþjóð — Heðins byrjar.
 
‘It also happened that the battle-eager people-defender of the Mœrir [NORWEGIAN RULER = Hákon jarl] had his men undertake a journey from the north to Sogn. The Freyr <god> of the wind of Heðinn <legendary hero> [BATTLE > WARRIOR] set out from four folklǫnd; that Ullr <god> of swords [WARRIOR] thereby helped the whole people.
Ok til móts á Meita
mjúkhurðum framm þurðu
með svǫrgœli Sǫrva
sjau landrekar randa.
Glumði allr, þás Ullar
eggþings Heðins veggjar
— gnótt flaut nás fyr nesjum —
Nóregr, saman fóru.
 
‘And seven commanders rushed onwards aboard the pliant doors of Meiti <sea-king> [SHIPS] to the meeting of shields [BATTLE] with the gladdener of the bird of Sǫrvi <sea-king> [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]. All of Norway resounded, when the Ullar <gods> of the wall of Heðinn <legendary hero> [SHIELD > WARRIORS] crashed together in the blade-assembly [BATTLE]; an abundance of corpses was floating off the headlands.
Varð fyr Vinða myrði
víðfrægt, en gramr síðan
gerðisk mest at morði,
mannfall við styr annan.
Hlym-Narfi bað hverfa
hlífar flagðs ok lagði
Jalks við ǫndurt fylki
ǫndur †fꜹrf† at landi.
 
‘There was a widely renowned slaughter before the killer of the Wends [= Hákon jarl] in the second battle, and then the ruler eagerly set out for battle. The Narfi <supernatural being> of the din of the troll-woman of the shield [(lit. ‘din-Narfi of the troll-woman of the shield’) AXE > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Ragnfrøðr?] ordered the ski of Jálkr <sea-king> [SHIP] to be turned … towards land and pulled up alongside the front of the host.
Strǫng varð gunnr, áðr gunnar
gammi nás und hramma
þrøngvimeiðr of þryngvi
þrimr hundruðum lunda.
Knátti hafs at hǫfðum
— hagnaðr vas þat — bragna
folkeflandi fylkir
fangsæll þaðan ganga.
 
‘The battle became intense before the oppressing-pole of trees of battle [WARRIORS > WARRIOR] pressed three hundred [men] under the claws of the vulture of the corpse [RAVEN/EAGLE]. The plunder-rich battle-supporting ruler was able to walk from there to the sea over the heads of men; that was an advantage.
Hitt vas auk, at eykir
aurborðs á vit norðan
und sigrunni svinnum
sunnr Danmarkar runnu.
Ok holmfjǫturs hjalmi
Hǫrða valdr of faldinn
Dofra danskra jǫfra
dróttinn fund of sótti.
 
‘It also happened that the draught-animals of the plank [SHIPS] ran from the north under the wise victory-tree [WARRIOR] south towards Denmark. And the ruler of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN RULER = Hákon jarl], the lord of the Dofrar [NORWEGIAN RULER = Hákon jarl], wearing the helmet of the island-fetter [= Miðgarðsormr], sought a meeting with the Danish rulers.
Ok við frost at freista
fémildr konungr vildi
myrk- Hlóðynjar -markar
morðalfs, þess’s kom norðan,
þás valserkjar virki
veðrhirði bað stirðan
fyr hlym-Njǫrðum hurða
Hagbarða gramr varða.
 
‘And the generous king of the Hlóðyn = Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’) of the dark forest <= Myrkviðr> [JUTLAND > DANISH KING = Haraldr blátǫnn] wanted at the time of the frost to test the battle-elf [WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] who came from the north, as the ruler bade the unbending keeper of the weather of the shirt of the slain [(lit. ‘weather-keeper of the slain-shirt’) MAIL-SHIRT > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] to defend the rampart against the Nirðir <gods> of the din of the doors of Hagbarði <legendary hero> [(lit. ‘din-Nirðir of the doors of Hagbarði’) SHIELDS > BATTLE > WARRIORS].
Vasat í gǫgn, þótt gerði
garð-Rǫgnir styr harðan,
gengiligt at ganga,
geirrásar, her þeira,
þás með fylki Frísa
fór gunn-Viðurr sunnan
(kvaddi vígs) ok Vinða
(vágs blakkriði) Frakka.
 
‘It was not easy to go against their army, although the Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> of the fence of the spear-onslaught [(lit. ‘fence-Rǫgnir of the spear-onslaught’) BATTLE > SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] made a hard attack, when the battle-Viðurr <= Óðinn> [WARRIOR = Otto II] came from the south with a host of Frisians, Franks and Wends; the rider of the horse of the wave [(lit. ‘horse-rider of the wave’) SHIP > SEAFARER = Hákon jarl] called for battle.
Þrymr varð logs, þars lǫgðu
leikmiðjungar, Þriðja,
(arngreddir varð) odda
(andvígr) saman randir.
Sundfaxa kom Sǫxum
sœki-Þróttr á flótta,
þars svát gramr með gumnum
garð yrþjóðum varði.
 
‘The din of the fire of Þriði <= Óðinn> [SWORD > BATTLE] came about, where the miðjungar of the game of arrow-points [(lit. ‘game-miðjungar of arrow-points’) BATTLE > WARRIORS] set their shields together; the eagle-feeder [WARRIOR] became aggressive. The attacking-Þróttr <= Óðinn> of the channel-horses [SHIPS > SEA-WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] drove the Saxons to flight, where the ruler with his men defended the palisade against the troops.
Flótta gekk til fréttar
felli-Njǫrðr á velli;
draugr gat dolga Sôgu
dagráð Heðins váða.
Ok haldboði hildar
hrægamma sá ramma;
Týr vildi þá týna
teinlautar fjǫr Gauta.
 
‘The slaying-Njǫrðr <god> of the fleeing ones [WARRIOR] sought an augury on the field; the log of the clothes of Heðinn <legendary hero> [ARMOUR > WARRIOR] got advice about a favourable day for the Sága <goddess> of enmity [VALKYRIE = Hildr (hildr ‘battle’)]. And the provider of battle [WARRIOR] saw powerful corpse-birds [RAVENS/EAGLES]; the Týr <god> of the sword-dale [SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] wanted to destroy the life of the Gautar then.
Háði jarl, þars áðan
engi mannr und ranni,
hyrjar þing, at herja,
hjǫrlautar, kom Sǫrla.
Bara maðr lyngs enn lengra
loptvarðaðar barða
— allt vann gramr of gengit
Gautland — frá sæ randir.
 
‘The jarl held an assembly of the fire of the sword-dale [SHIELD > SWORD > BATTLE], where no man carrying a house of Sǫrli <legendary hero> [SHIELD] had come to harry before. No one carried shields, adorned with the loft of the whale of the heath [SNAKE > GOLD] any further from the sea; the ruler managed to march through all of Götaland.
Valfǫllum hlóð vǫllu
(varð ragna konr gagni)
hríðar ôss (at hrósa)
— hlaut Óðinn val — Fróða.
Hver sé if, nema jǫfra
ættrýri goð stýra?
Rammaukin kveðk ríki
rǫgn Hôkunar magna.
 
‘The god of the storm of Fróði <sea-king> [BATTLE > WARRIOR] piled up the fields with the slain; the descendant of the gods [= Hákon jarl] could boast of victory; Óðinn was allotted the slain. What doubt might there be that the gods guide the destroyer of the kin of princes [(lit. ‘kin-destroyer of princes’) PRINCES > RULER = Hákon jarl]? I declare that the exceedingly powerful gods increase the might of Hákon.
Hvar viti ǫld und einum
jarðbyggvi svá liggja
— þat skyli herr of hugsa —
hjarl sextían jarla?
Þess ríðr fúrs með fjórum
folkleikr Heðins reikar
logskundaðar lindar
lofkenndr himins endum.
 
‘Where would people know of the territory of sixteen jarls lying in such a way under one land-owner [RULER]? The army ought to consider that. The renowned army-game [BATTLE] of the fire of the hair-parting of Heðinn <legendary hero> [SWORD] of that impeller of the fire of the spring [(lit. ‘fire-impeller of the spring’) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] spreads along the four ends of the sky.
Hjalmeldum bauð hildi
hjaldrǫrr, með Sigvalda
hinns fór í gný Gunnar,
gunndjarfr Búi, sunnan.
 
‘The fight-eager, battle-daring Búi, the one who travelled from the south with Sigvaldi to the din of Gunnr <valkyrie> [BATTLE], offered battle with helmet-fires [SWORDS].
Né sigbjarka serkir
sómmiðjungum rómu
Hôars við Hǫgna skúrir
hléðut fast of séðir.
 
‘Nor did the firmly sewn shirts of the battle-birches [WARRIORS > ARMOUR] protect the bow-miðjungar [WARRIORS] against the showers of Hǫgni <legendary hero> [ARROWS] in the noise of Hárr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE].
Fjallvǫnðum gaf fylli,
(fullr varð) en spjǫr gullu,
herstefnandi hrǫfnum
(hrafn á ylgjar tafni).
 
‘The army-summoner [RULER] gave the mountain-accustomed ravens their fill, and spears resounded; the raven was sated on the prey of the she-wolf [CORPSE].
Gollsendir lætr grundar
— glaðar þengill her drengja —
— hans mæti knák hljóta —
hljót Yggs mjaðar njóta.
 
‘The gold-distributor [GENEROUS MAN = Einarr, I] lets the recipient of land [RULER] enjoy the mead of Yggr <= Óðinn> [POEM]; the ruler gladdens the host of warriors; I can receive his precious gifts.
Þvít fjǫlkostigr flestu
flestr ræðr við son Bestlu
— tekit hefk morðs til mærðar —
mæringr an þú færa.
 
‘For most many-virtued famous men control much less than you with the son of Bestla <giantess> [= Óðinn]; I have begun the praise of the battle.
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