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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Magnússflokkr — ÞjóðA MagnflII

Þjóðólfr Arnórsson

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Magnússflokkr’ 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. 61-87.

 

Vast, Ôleifs sonr, austan
eflðr á vatn it skeflða.
 
‘Óláfr’s son [= Magnús], you were powerfully launched from the east onto the heaped water.
Út rétt, allvaldr, skjóta
— ekin dúðisk rô — snekkju,
en þrítøgt skip þrautar
þann tíð í haf skríða.
Vægðit vendi sveigðum
veðr ótt of þér, dróttinn;
hlóðu hirðmenn prúðir
húnskript í Sigtúnum.
 
‘Mighty ruler, you launched [lit. did launch] a warship out, and [made] the thirty-benched ship glide at full stretch over the sea at that time; the driven sailyard shuddered. The raging wind did not spare the swayed mast above you, lord; splendid retainers took down the decorated cloth [SAIL] of the mast-top in Sigtuna (Sigtúnir).
Aur spornuðuð, arnar
ilrjóðr, af Svíþjóðu;
herr fylgði þér, harri,
hraustr í Nóreg austan.
Flýði Sveinn enn síðan
sannráðinn frá láði;
erlendis frák undan
Alfífu son drífa.
 
‘You trod the soil, sole-reddener of the eagle [WARRIOR], on the way from Sweden; a valiant army followed you, prince, from the east into Norway. Later again Sveinn fled, truly betrayed, from the land; I learned that Ælfgifu’s son [= Sveinn] dashed away abroad.
Djarft neyttir þú, dróttinn
dolgstrangr, skipa langra,
af þvít ýtar hǫfðu
austr sjau tøgu flausta.
Suðr gnauðuðu súðir;
segl hýnd við stag rýndu;
vík skar vandlangt eiki;
Visundr hneigði þrǫm sveigðan.
 
‘You used long ships boldly, battle-strong lord, as men steered seventy vessels eastwards. Strakes roared south; high-hoisted sails conversed with the forestay; the tall-masted oak sliced the sound; Visundr (‘Bison’) plunged its curved rail.
Sjalfr vas austr við Elfi
Ulfs mǫgr ok hét fǫgru;
þar réð Sveinn at sverja
sínar hendr at skríni.
Réð Ôleifs sonr eiðum,
— átt hafa þeira sáttir
skemmra aldr an skyldi —
Skônunga gramr, hônum.
 
‘Úlfr’s kinsman [= Sveinn Úlfsson] himself was east at the Götaälv (Elfr), and promised fine things; there Sveinn did pledge himself [lit. his hands] at the shrine. Óláfr’s son [= Magnús], the lord of the Skánungar [= Magnús], dictated oaths to him; their peace-agreements have had a shorter life than they ought.
Minn vá sigr fyr sunnan
snjallr Heiðabý spjalli;
nær frák skarpa skœru
Skotborgarô gotna.
Unði ótal Vinða
Ellu konr at fella;
hvar hafi gumnar gǫrva
geirhríð fregit meiri?
 
‘My valiant confidant won victory south of Hedeby (Heiðabýr); I learned of a bitter conflict of men near the Kongeå (Skotborgará). The descendant of Ella <legendary king> [= Magnús] relished cutting down countless Wends; where might men have heard of a greater spear-storm [BATTLE] being made?
Hykk í hundraðs flokki
Haralds bróðurson stóðu
— hrafn vissi sér hvassast
hungrbann — framast manna.
Vítt lá Vinða flótti;
varð, þars Magnús barðisk,
hǫggvinn valr at hylja
heiði rastar breiða.
 
‘I believe the brother’s son of Haraldr [= Magnús] stood foremost of the men in a force of a hundred; the raven knew there was the strictest ban on hunger. The Wends forced to flee lay far and wide; the felled slain came to cover the heath a league wide, where Magnús fought.
Lǫgðu (grœðis glóða)
gramr ok jarl fyr skǫmmu
(þar kom bitr á bǫrva
brandleikr) saman randir,
svát manþinga munðut
merkjendr Heðins serkjar
— herr náði gný gørva
geirs — orrostu meiri.
 
‘The king and the jarl clashed shields a short time ago; biting sword-sport [BATTLE] came there upon the trees of the embers of the ocean [GOLD > MEN], so that stainers of the shirt of the assembly of Heðinn’s <legendary hero’s> maiden [(lit. ‘of Heðinn’s maiden-assembly’) = Hildr > BATTLE > ARMOUR > WARRIORS] did not remember a greater battle; the army got to carry out tumult of the spear [BATTLE].
Skotit frák skeptiflettum
skjótt ok mǫrgu spjóti,
— brôð fekk hrafn — þars hôðum
hjaldr, á breiða skjǫldu.
Neyttu mest sem môttu
menn at vápna sennu,
baugs en barðir lôgu
bǫrvar, grjóts ok ǫrva.
 
‘I have learned that shafted javelins and many a spear were shot swiftly onto broad shields, where we joined battle; the raven got meat. Men made the best use they could of stones and arrows in the slander-match of weapons [BATTLE], and trees of the ring [MEN] lay beaten down.
Bôru bǫslar fleiri
bogmenn at hǫr tognum;
mundit þann dag Þrœndi
þreyta fyrr at skeytum.
Svá þykkt flugu síðan
snœridǫrr of skœru
— ótt vas ǫrdrif látit —
illa sátt á milli.
 
‘Bowmen placed more arrows on the drawn bowstring; that day the Þrœndir would not be the first to let up with their missiles. Then the thonged javelins flew over the fight so densely [that] you could hardly see between them; a raging arrow-drift was sent.
Mjǫk bað Magnús rekka
mannr rǫskliga annan
— hǫrð þrifusk boð, þars bǫrðusk —
bǫðský framar knýja.
 
‘Magnús urged heroes strongly, one man [urging] another boldly, to drive battle-clouds [SHIELDS] onwards; stern commands brought results where they fought.
Vǫrðr gekk meir at morði
Magnús kjalar vagna
— þat vas frægt — í fagran
framstafn varar Hrafni.
Gerðum þar, svát þverrði,
þengill, en óx fengi,
— skeiðr nam herr at hrjóða —
húskarla lið jarli.
 
‘The guardian of waggons of the keel [SHIPS > SEAFARER], Magnús, went further into the slaughter in the beautiful forestem of the Hrafn <horse> of the landing-stage [SHIP]; that was renowned. We brought it about there, prince, that the jarl’s troop of housecarls reduced, and booty increased; the army started to clear the warships.
Áðr svanfoldar seldi
sólrýrandi inn dýri
— jarls lá ferð á ferli —
fjǫrgrið stǫfum hjǫrva.
 
‘Before the excellent diminisher of the sun of the swan-land [(lit. ‘sun-diminisher of the swan-land’) SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] granted life-truce to the staves of swords [WARRIORS]; the jarl’s troop were on the move.
Rǫmm vas hildr, sús Hramma
harðéls viðir bǫrðusk,
— herr gekk snart at snerru —
sunnudags of unnin.
Flaut, þás feigir létu
fjǫr gnýstafir hjǫrva,
— þjóð sǫkk niðr at nauðum —
nár á hverri bôru.
 
‘A mighty battle was fought on a Sunday, which trees of the harsh storm of Hrammi <= Óðinn> [BATTLE > WARRIORS] waged; the army advanced keenly to the onslaught. A corpse floated on every wave, as the doomed staves of the din of swords [(lit. ‘din-staves of swords’) BATTLE > WARRIORS] gave up life; people sank down under duress.
Náði jarl at eyða
jǫfra setr á vetri;
lézt eigi þú lítla
landvǫrn af þér standa.
Máttir, Magnús, hætta,
mildr, í folk und skildi;
nefa Knúts vas þá nýtum
nær sem ráðinn væri.
 
‘The jarl succeeded in clearing the seat of princes in the winter; you caused no meagre defence of territory to issue from you. Generous Magnús, you were able to venture into battle behind a shield; for the capable nephew of Knútr [= Sveinn] it was then almost as though he were destroyed.
Rǫnn lézt, ræsir Þrœnda,
— reiðr þorðir bú meiða —
(hús namt hvert ok eisu)
hyrfeld (gefa eldi).
Grôu vildir þú gjalda,
gœðinga vinr, skœðar
— ǫrt renndu þeir undan —
jarls fylgjurum dylgjur.
 
‘You made buildings fire-razed, ruler of the Þrœndir [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús]; angry, you dared to damage homesteads; you proceeded to give every house to fire and embers. Friend of nobles [RULER], you wanted to pay back the followers of the jarl grimly for their noxious hostilities; they ran rapidly away.
Hizig laut, es heitir
Helganes, fyr kesjum
(sukku sárir rekkar)
Sveins ferð (bana verðir).
Mætr helt mǫrgu spjóti
Mœra gramr í snœri;
odd rauð aski studdan
ǫrr landreki dǫrrum.
 
‘Sveinn’s troop stooped before halberds there, where it is called Helgenæs; wounded champions sank down, deserving death. The excellent lord of the Mœrir [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús] held many a spear in its thong; the valiant land-ruler reddened with spears the point hafted [lit. supported] with ash.
Flýði jarl af auðu
ótvínn skipi sínu
morð, þars Magnús gerði
meinfœrt þaðan Sveini.
Réð herkonungr hrjóða
hneitis egg í sveita;
sprændi blóð á brýndan
brand; vá gramr til landa.
 
‘The unwavering jarl fled the killing, from his empty ship, where Magnús made it perilous for Sveinn to go from there. The army-king painted [lit. did paint] the sword’s edge in gore; blood spurted onto the sharpened sword; the prince fought for lands.
Háðisk heilli góðu
hildr, sem Magnús vildi;
selr of sigr at þylja
sóknstœrir mér fœri.
Brand rauð buðlungr Þrœnda;
berr íðula síðan
hann ept hervíg þrennin
hæra skjǫld at gjǫldum.
 
‘The battle was waged with good fortune, as Magnús wished; the onslaught-sweller [WARRIOR] gives me opportunity to recite about victory. The prince of the Þrœndir [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús] reddened the sword; after threefold pitched battle he carries the higher shield ever afterwards in repayment.
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