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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Óláfsdrápa — Steinn ÓldrII

Steinn Herdísarson

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Steinn Herdísarson, Óláfsdrápa’ 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. 367-81.

 

Þjóð fórsk mǫrg í móðu;
menn drukknuðu sukknir;
drengr lá ár of ungan
ófár Mǫrukára.
Fila dróttinn rak flótta
framr; tók herr á ramri
rôs fyr rǫskum vísa.
Ríklundaðr veit undir.
 
‘Many people died in the river; submerged men drowned; not a few warriors soon lay [dead] around young Morcere. The outstanding lord of the Filir [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr] pursued those who fled; the army broke into a frantic run before the bold ruler. Proud-minded knows beneath [the sun]….
Ungr vísi, lézt Úsu
allnær búendr falla;
sótti herr, þars hætti
hlíftrauðr konungr lífi.
Þess mun þangatkváma
þengils vesa Englum,
enn sem eptir renni,
iflaust, es þá lifðu.
 
‘Young ruler, you caused farmers to fall very close to the River Ouse; the army attacked where the protection-shy king risked his life. The arrival of that lord must undoubtedly appear to the English, who were then left alive, as if they are still being pursued.
Fellu vítt of vǫllu
— vargr náði þar bjargask —
benja regn, en bragna
blóð víkingar óðu.
 
‘Rain-showers of wounds [BLOOD] fell far and wide on the fields, and vikings waded through warriors’ blood; the wolf could sustain itself there.
Fylkir lét in fljótu
flaust, es leið at hausti;
skaut í haf, þars heitir
Hrafnseyrr, konungr stafni.
Trôðu borðveg breiðan;
brimsgangr skipa langra
óðr fell sær of súðir.
Sik beztan gram miklu.
 
‘The lord set the swift ships in motion when it drew close to autumn; the king pushed the prow out to sea at the place called Ravenseer. [The ships] trod on the broad gunwale-road [SEA]; the rough sea, the raging ocean, poured over the sides of the long ships. …Himself [to be] the very best ruler….
Austr helt Engla þrýstir
ótvínn liði sínu
— stóran braut of stýri
straum — sækonungr Rauma.
Glaðr tók herr, þás heðra
hringlestir kom vestan,
allr við ǫflgum stilli.
Óláfr borinn sólu.
 
‘The unwavering oppressor of the English [= Óláfr], the sea-king of the Raumar [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr], steered his force to the east; the heavy current broke around the helm. All inhabitants received the mighty ruler warmly when the ring-damager [GENEROUS RULER] arrived here from the west. …Óláfr born [beneath] the sun.
Heldr, síz hári foldu
heiptbráðr jǫfurr náði,
— ætt þreifsk Egða dróttins —
ólaust konungr stóli.
Mætr hilmir verr malmi
— mank skjǫldungs lof — kǫldum
Rauma grund ok rǫndu.
Ríklundaðr veit undir.
 
‘The king holds the throne unwaveringly since the quick-tempered prince took possession of the lofty land; the family of the lord of the Egðir [NORWEGIAN KING = S. Óláfr] has prospered. The esteemed ruler defends the land of the Raumar [= Norway] with the cold metal and the shield; I recall the hero’s reputation. Proud-minded knows beneath [the sun]….
Sín óðǫl mun Sveini
sóknstrangr í Kaupangi,
þars heilagr gramr hvílir,
— hanns ríkr jǫfurr — banna.
Ætt sinni mun unna
Ôláfr konungr hôla
(Ulfs þarfat þar arfi)
alls Nóregs (til kalla).
 
‘The battle-strong one in Trondheim, where the holy ruler rests, will refuse Sveinn his [Óláfr’s] ancestral properties; he is a mighty prince. King Óláfr will certainly grant his kin all Norway; Úlfr’s heir [= Sveinn] need not make a claim there.
Ǫll biðr Egða stillir
eggdjarfra lið seggja
sund fyr sínu landi
sóknǫrr stika dǫrrum.
Jǫrð mun eigi verða
auðsótt Fila dróttins
sǫngherðǫndum sverða.
Sik beztan gram miklu.
 
‘The battle-generous ruler of the Egðir [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr] bids the band of edge-fierce warriors barricade all inlets along his country with spears; the land of the lord of the Filir [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr] will not be easy to conquer for the strengtheners of swords’ song [(lit. ‘swords’ song-strengtheners’) BATTLE > WARRIORS]. …Himself [to be] the very best ruler….
Veitk, hvar Óláfr úti
óslækinn rauð mæki
— deilask mér til mála
minni — fyrsta sinni.
Hlaut til hafs fyr útan
Halland konungr branda
— fǫgr sverð ruðu fyrðar —
fjǫlgóðr litat blóði.
 
‘I know, where tireless Óláfr reddened the sword at sea for the first time; the memories give me material for tales. The very good king had blades coloured in blood on the ocean off Halland; men reddened fair swords.
Gengu danskir drengir
(dynr varð gǫrr) með brynjur
útanborðs til jarðar
(úrigs malms) ok hjalma.
Sukku sárir rekkar
sunnan hafs til grunna;
hár varp hausum þeira
hranngarðr á þrǫm jarðar.
 
‘Danish warriors went overboard [and sank] to the bottom with byrnies and helmets; the din of wet metal [BATTLE] was over. Wounded champions sank to the shallows south of the sea; the high wave-enclosure [SEA] threw their skulls onto the edge of the earth.
Enn at gǫrva gunni
gramr bjósk við styr ramman;
herskildi bað halda
hraustgeðr konungr austan.
Út fœrðu lið lítlu
lǫng borð fyr Stað norðan
— trôðu túnvǫll reyðar
tveir dǫglingar — meira.
 
‘But the prince prepared for fierce fighting after the finished battle; the brave-minded king commanded that the war-shield be brought from the east. The long ships brought more troops out [to sea] a little north of Stadlandet; two noblemen set foot on the farm-yard of the whale [SEA].
Lǫnd vill þengill Þrœnda
— þat líkar vel skǫtnum —
ǫll við œrna snilli
eggdjarfr í frið leggja.
Hugnar þjóð, þats þegna
þrályndr til friðmála
kúgar Engla œgir.
Óláfr borinn sólu.
 
‘The blade-daring lord of the Þrœndir [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr] wants to establish peace in all lands with great wisdom; that really pleases people. Men like it, that the obstinate-minded intimidator of the English [= Óláfr] forces people to peace-talks. …Óláfr born [beneath] the sun.
Gefr áttstuðill jǫfra
ǫrr ok steinda knǫrru
(hann vill hnøggvi sinnar)
hábrynjuð skip (synja).
Þjóð nýtr Óláfs auðar;
annarr konungr mǫnnum,
seðu, hverr slíkt fé reiðir!
Sik beztan gram miklu.
 
‘The generous lineage-pillar of princes [KING = Óláfr] gives out armoured ships and painted merchantmen; he wishes to deny his parsimony. People enjoy Óláfr’s wealth; look, what other king gives men such riches! …Himself [to be] the very best ruler….
Herþengill gleðr hringum
hoddǫrr, sás rýðr odda,
bekksagnir; lætr bragna
bragningr gjǫfum fagna.
Norðmǫnnum gefr nenninn
Nóregs konungr stórum;
ǫrr es Engla þverrir.
Óláfr borinn sólu.
 
‘The hoard-generous host-leader, who reddens spear-points, gladdens his benchmates with rings; the monarch lets his men rejoice in the gifts. The enterprising king of Norway [= Óláfr] gives lavishly to the Norwegians; the diminisher of the English [= Óláfr] is generous. Óláfr born [beneath] the sun….
Hilmir gefr ok hjalma,
(hirð) svát enskis virðir,
(konungs prýða þau klæði)
kynstórr firum brynjur.
Dyggr lætr þungar þiggja
þengill af sér drengi
— vás launar svá vísi
verðung — Hôars gerðar.
 
‘The highborn ruler gives men byrnies and helmets without holding back; those clothes adorn the king’s retinue. The loyal lord lets his warriors receive from him the heavy garments of Hárr <= Óðinn> [BYRNIES]; thus the leader repays his troop for hardship.
Óláfr gefr, svát jǫfra
alls engi má snjallra,
hǫggvit gull til hylli
hildinga konr mildi.
Grams es heiðum himni
— hanns fremstr konungmanna —
— spyr, hverr glíkt mun gerva —
gjǫflund borin* undir.
 
‘Óláfr, the generous kinsman of lords [KING], gives cut gold in exchange for loyalty, as absolutely none of [the other] undaunted princes can. The ruler’s munificent disposition is carried beneath the clear sky; he is the foremost of kings; [just] ask, who else might act in such a way.
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