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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Nizarvísur — Steinn NizvII

Steinn Herdísarson

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Steinn Herdísarson, Nizarvísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 359-66.

 

Sagði hitt, es hugði,
hauklyndr, vesa myndu;
þar kvað þengill eirar
þrotna vôn frá hônum.
Heldr kvað hvern várn skyldu
hilmir frægr an vægja
(menn brutu upp) of annan
(ǫll vôpn) þveran falla.
 
‘The hawk-minded one said what he thought might happen; the lord declared there was scant hope of mercy from him there. The famous ruler said each of us must fall crosswise on top of one another rather than yield; men readied all weapons.
Hætti hersa dróttinn
hugstrangr, skipa langra
hinns með halft beið annat
hundrað Dana fundar.
Næst vas, þats réð rísta
reiðr atseti Hleiðrar
þangs láð mǫrum þingat
þrimr hundruðum sunda.
 
‘The strong-minded lord of hersar [KING = Haraldr] put himself at risk, he who awaited the encounter with the Danes with a hundred and fifty long ships. Next it happened that the furious resident of Lejre [DANISH KING = Sveinn] cut the kelp’s land [SEA] thither with three hundred steeds of the sea [SHIPS].
Vann fyr móðu mynni
meinfœrt Haraldr Sveini;
varð, þvít vísi gerðit,
viðrnám, friðar biðja.
Herðu hjǫrvi gyrðir
Halland jǫfurs spjallar
(heit blés und) fyr útan
atróðr á sæ (blóði).
 
‘Haraldr made access difficult for Sveinn before the river’s mouth; there was resistance, because the ruler [= Sveinn] did not beg for peace. The prince’s confidants, girded with a sword, intensified the rowing on the sea off Halland; the hot wound spurted blood.
Nýtr bað skjǫldungr skjóta
— skammt vas liðs á miðli —
hlífar styggr ok hǫggva
hvárrtveggi lið seggja.
Bæði fló, þás blóði
brandr hrauð af sér rauðu,
— þat brá feigra flotna
fjǫrvi — grjót ok ǫrvar.
 
‘Each bountiful prince, shunning protection, told the troop of warriors to shoot and strike; there was a short distance between the troops. Both rocks and arrows flew when the blade shed red blood; that put an end to the life of doomed sailors.
Undrs, ef eigi reyndu
ǫrmóts viðir gǫrva
— bǫrðumk vér ok vǫrðum
víða grund — of síðir,
hvárt hugfylldir halda
— hrafn fekk gnótt í óttu
nás fyr Nizar ósi —
Norðmenn Harald þorðu.
 
‘It is a marvel if the trees of the arrow-meeting [BATTLE > WARRIORS] finally did not experience fully—we fought and defended the wide land—, whether the courage-filled Norwegians dared to protect Haraldr; the raven got plenty of carrion at dawn before the mouth of the Nissan.
Oss dugir hrafns ins hvassa
hungrdeyfi svá leyfa,
linns at lastim annan
látrs sveigjanda eigi.
Aldri kvǫddusk oddum
— annat hverjum manni
táls of tyggja at mæla —
tveir fullhugar meiri.
 
‘It is fitting for us [me] to praise the hunger-appeaser [FEEDER] of the fierce raven [WARRIOR = Haraldr] in such a way that we [I] do not belittle the other bender of the snake’s lair [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Sveinn]. Never did two more valiant ones greet each other with spear-points; it is treachery for any man to say something else about the lords.
Eigi myndi undan
allvaldr Dana halda
— oss dugir satt of snotran
sælinga kon mæla —,
ef menn fyr sæ sunnan,
— sverð reiddusk at ferðir —
þeirs herskildi heldu,
hrafnfœði vel tœði.
 
‘The mighty ruler of the Danes [= Sveinn] would not have fled—it is fitting for us [me] to speak the truth about the wise descendant of wealthy people—, if men south of the sea, who held the war-shield, had supported the raven-feeder [WARRIOR] well; troops swung swords at [each other].
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