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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eiríksdrápa — ÞKolb EirdrI

Þórðr Kolbeinsson

Jayne Carroll 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa’ 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. 487.

 

Ok sannliga sunnan
(sôusk vítt búendr ítrir)
(stríð) of stála meiða
(stór) hersǫgur fóru.
Súðlǫngum frá Sveiða
sunnr af dregnum hlunni
vangs á vatn of þrungit
viggmeiðr Dana skeiðum.
 
‘And in truth war-stories about trees of steel [WARRIORS] travelled from the south; excellent farmers widely feared great strife. The tree of the steed of the field of Sveiði <sea-king> [(lit. ‘steed-tree of the field of Sveiði’) SEA > SHIP > SEAFARER] heard that the long-planked warships of the Danes had been thrust onto the water from the worn launching-roller in the south.
Mjǫk lét margar snekkjur
(mærðarǫrr) sem knǫrru
(óðr vex skalds) ok skeiðar
skjaldhlynr á brim dynja,
þás ólítinn útan
oddherðir fór gerða
— mǫrg vas lind fyr landi —
lǫnd síns fǫður rǫndu.
 
‘The shield-maple [WARRIOR] made very many warships, as well as merchant ships and longships, resound on the surf — the praise-liberal poetry of the skald grows —, when the point-hardener [WARRIOR] advanced at full strength from offshore to enclose the lands of his father with the shield; many a linden-shield was before the land.
Setti jarl, sás atti,
ógnfróðr, á lǫg stóði
hrefnis, hôva stafna
hót Sigvalda at móti.
Margr skalf hlumr, en hvergi
huggendr bana uggðu,
þeirs gôtu sæ slíta,
sárgamms, blǫðum ára.
 
‘The battle-wise jarl, who urged the stud-horses of the strake [SHIPS] onto the sea, directed high stems somewhat against Sigvaldi. Many an oar-handle trembled, but the comforters of the wound-vulture [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIORS], who tore the sea with the blades of oars, feared death not at all.
Enn í gegn at gunni
glæheims skriðu mævar
— renndi langt með landi
leiðangr — Dana skeiðar,
þær, es jarl und ôrum
œrins golls á Mœri
— barms rak vigg und vǫrmum
valkesti — hrauð flestar.
 
‘And the slim warships of the Danes glided on the glistening world [sea] in opposition, to the battle — the fleet sped a long way along the coast —, most of which the jarl cleared under the envoys of plentiful gold [MEN] in Møre; the steed of the rim [SHIP] pushed on under a warm corpse-pile.
Jǫfrum varð, en urðu
allhvasst Danir falla,
blóðhelsingja bræðir,
brœðr Sigvarðar, œðri.
 
‘The feeder of blood-geese [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR] overcame princes, and the Danes had to fall most rapidly before the brother of Sigurðr [= Eiríkr].
Meinrennir, brá — manna
margs fýsa skǫp —, varga,
ljóða lítlu siðar
læ Hôkunar ævi.
Enn til lands, þess’s lindar
láðstafr vegit hafði
hraustr, þás herr fór vestan,
hykk kómu son Tryggva.
 
‘Harm-banisher [GLADDENER] of wolves [WARRIOR = Eiríkr], a little later the people’s treachery ended the life of Hákon; the fate of men urges much on. And I think the son of Tryggvi [= Óláfr] came to the land which the bold staff of the land of the linden spear [(lit. ‘bold land-staff of the linden spear’) SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon] had vanquished, when the army advanced from the west.
Hafði sér við særi
— slíks vas vôn at hônum —
auðs, an upp of kvæði,
Eirekr í hug meira.
Sótti reiðr at rôðum
— rann engi því manna —
— þrályndi gafsk Þrœndum —
þrœnzkr jarl konung sœnskan.
 
‘Eiríkr had more in mind for the wounder of wealth [GENEROUS MAN = Óláfr Tryggvason] than he declared; such was to be expected of him. The angry jarl of Trøndelag [Eiríkr] sought counsel from the Swedish king; no person obstructed that; obstinacy affected the Þrœndir.
Þar vas hjalmaðs herjar
Hropts við dreyrgar toptir


Orð fekk gótt, es gerði
grams vǫrn blôum hjǫrvi
(hǫll bilar hára fjalla,)
Hyrningr (áðr þat fyrnisk).
 
‘There was … of the helmeted host … against the bloody homesteads of Hroptr <= Óðinn> [SHIELDS] … Hyrningr, who defended the king with a dark sword, gained a good reputation; the hall of the high mountains [SKY] will break before that is forgotten.
Veitk, fyr Erling útan
ár at hersar vôru
(lofak fasta Tý) flestir
(farlands) vinir jarla.
Enn ept víg frá Veigu
— velk orð at styr — norðan
land eða lengra stundu
lagðisk suðr til Agða.
 
‘I know that most hersar, other than Erlingr, were previously friends of the jarls; I praise the Týr <god> of the fire of the vessel-land [SEA > GOLD > MAN = Eiríkr]. And after the battle the land was subjected from Vega in the north south as far as Agder or somewhat further; I choose words about the battle.
Allvalds nutu aldir;
una líkar vel slíku;
skyldr lézk hendi at halda
hann of Nóregs mǫnnum.
En Sveinn konungr sunnan
sagðr es dauðr, en auðir
— fátt bilar flestra ýta
fár — hans býir vôru.
 
‘Men benefited from the mighty ruler; it is most pleasing to be content with such a situation; he declared himself obliged to hold a hand over the people of Norway. But King Sveinn is reported from the south to be dead, and his dwellings to have been desolate; misfortune scarcely spares most men.
Enn hefsk leyfð, þars lofða
lofkennda frák sendu
at hjalmsǫmum hilmi
hjarls dróttna boð jarli,
at skyldligast skyldi
— skilk, hvat gramr lézk vilja —
endr at ástafundi
Eirekr koma þeira.
 
‘Again praise is beginning, where I have heard that praise-renowned men sent an invitation to the helmet-adorned ruler of the land of lords, to the jarl [Eiríkr], that Eiríkr should most dutifully come again to a friendly meeting with them; I understand what the king [Knútr] declared he wanted.
Ítr þrifusk jǫfra hleyti
eggveðrs í fǫr seggja;
skeið helt mǫrg í móðu
mislǫng, sem ek vissa.
Bládýrum helt bôru
brands svá náar landi
Ullr, at enska vǫllu,
áttstórr, séa knátti.
 
‘The glorious kinship of the princes prospered in the expedition of men to the edge-storm [BATTLE]; many warships of various lengths steered into the river, as I learned. The high-born Ullr <god> of the sword [WARRIOR] steered the dark animals of the wave [SHIPS] so near land that the English plains could be seen.
Enn at eyrar grunni
endr Skjǫldungr of renndi,
sás kjǫlslóðir kníði,
Knútr langskipum útan.
Varð, þars vildu fyrðar
varrláð koma báðir,
hjalmaðs jarls ok hilmis
hœgr fundr á því dœgri.
 
‘And the Skjǫldungr, Knútr, who pounded the keel-paths [SEA], again ran his longships ashore onto the shallows of the land-spit. The meeting of the helmeted jarl and the prince proved propitious on that day, when both men wished to cross the oarstroke-land [SEA].
Gollkennir lét gunni
(grœðis hests) fyr vestan
(Þundr vá leyfðr til landa)
Lundún saman bundit.
Fekk, — regn Þorins rekka
rann — of þingamǫnnum,
ýglig hǫgg, þars eggjar,
Ulfkell, bláar skulfu.
 
‘The gold-master [GENEROUS MAN = Eiríkr] joined battle west of London; the celebrated Þundr <= Óðinn> of the horse of the sea [SHIP > SEAFARER = Eiríkr] won lands by fighting. Ulfcytel received terrible blows, where dark blades shook over the þingamenn; the rain of the men of Þorinn <dwarf> [DWARFS > POETRY] streamed.
Hvatr vann Freyr á flotna
folkstafns, sás gaf hrafni
sollit hold né sjaldan,
sverðs eggja spor leggi.
Snjallr lét opt, ok olli,
Eirekr, bana þeira,
— rauð Hringmaraheiði
herr — Engla lið þverra.
 
‘The brave Freyr <god> of the battle-stem [SWORD > WARRIOR], who not seldom gave swollen flesh to the raven, made tracks of the edges of the sword [WOUNDS] on the limbs of men. Valiant Eiríkr often made the troop of the English diminish and caused their deaths; the army reddened Ringmere Heath.
Gengu upp, þeirs Englum,
ár hrafngefendr, vôru
langa stund á landi
leiðir, grund af skeiðum.
Eðr í gǫgn, þeirs gôðu
(glaum skers) bœi verja,
(galt hilmis lið hjalta)
herferð búendr gerðu.
 
‘The raven-benefactors [WARRIORS], who had been for a long time hateful to the English in the land, went up early onto land from the ships. But the farmers, who intended to defend the settlements, made a military expedition in return; the troop of the ruler dealt out the merriment of the skerry of the hilt [SWORD > BATTLE].
Óð, en œrnu náði
íms sveit Freka hveiti,
— Gera ǫlðra naut gylðir —
Gjalpar stóð í blóði.
 
‘The stud-horses of Gjǫlp <giantess> [WOLVES] waded in blood, and the company of the wolf [WOLVES] gained plentiful wheat of Freki <wolf> [CORPSES]; the wolf enjoyed the ales of Geri <wolf> [BLOOD].
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