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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sexstefja — ÞjóðA SexII

Þjóðólfr Arnórsson

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja’ 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. 108-47.

 

Hvasst frák Haugi it næsta
hlífél á gram drífa,
en Bolgara brennir
brœðr sínum vel tœði.
Skilðisk hann, ok hulði
hjalmsetr gamall vetra
tyggi tolf ok þriggja,
trauðr við Ôleif dauðan.
 
‘I learned that a shield-storm [BATTLE] drove sharp against the ruler next to Haug, and the burner of Bulgars [= Haraldr] supported his brother well. He parted, reluctant, from the dead Óláfr, and the prince twelve and three years [lit. winters] old concealed his helmet-stand [HEAD].
Tøgu má tekna segja
(tandrauðs) á Serklandi
(ungr hætti sér) átta
(ormtorgs hǫtuðr) borga,
áðr herskorðuðr harðan
Hildar leik und skildi
Serkjum hættr í sléttri
Sikileyju gekk heyja.
 
‘One can say that eighty strongholds were captured in the land of the Saracens (Serkland)—the young hater of the flame-red dragon-square [GOLD > RULER] put himself in danger—, before the troop-supporter [WARRIOR], dangerous to the Saracens (Serkir), advanced to wage the harsh sport of Hildr <valkyrie> [BATTLE] behind his shield in level Sicily.
Dolgljóss, hefir dási
darrlatr staðit fjarri
endr, þás elju Rindar
ómynda tók skyndir.
Vasat Afríka jǫfri
Ánars mey fyr hônum
haglfaldinni at halda
hlýðisamt né lýðum.
 
‘The spear-lazy sluggard stood far away at that time, when the speeder of battle-light [SWORD > WARRIOR] seized the rival of Rindr <giantess> lacking bride-payment [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)]. It was not possible for the prince of Africans or his people to hold the hail-coifed maiden of Ánarr <dwarf> [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)] against him.
Lét, þás lypt vas spjótum,
liðs hǫfðingi kviðjat,
enn, þeirs undan runnu,
ulfs grôð, friðar bôðu.
Hann hefr fyr sæ sunnan
— svá finnask til minni —
opt með oddi keyptan
auð, þars leitt vas blauðum.
 
‘The commander of the host put a ban on the wolf’s hunger, as spears were raised up, and those who ran away begged for a truce. He has often purchased riches with his spear-point, south of the sea, where it was unpleasant for cowards; memorials of this are to be found.
Sás við lund á landi
Langbarða réð ganga.
 
‘He who advanced [lit. did advance] with purpose onto the land of the Langobards.
Þjóð veit, at hefr háðar
hvargrimmligar rimmur
(rofizk hafa opt fyr jǫfri)
átján Haraldr (sáttir).
Hǫss arnar rautt hvassar,
hróðigr konungr, blóði
— ímr gat krôs, hvars kómuð —
klœr, áðr hingat fœrir.
 
‘People know that Haraldr has fought eighteen most ferocious battles; peace has [lit. treaties have] often been slashed at the hands of the ruler. You reddened the sharp claws of the grey eagle with blood, triumphant king, before you travelled here [to Norway]; the dark wolf got a morsel wherever you went.
Stólþengils lét stinga
— styrjǫld vas þá byrjuð —
eyðir augu bæði
út heiðingja sútar.
Lagði allvaldr Egða
austr á bragning hraustan
gráligt mark, en Girkja
gǫtu illa fór stillir.
 
‘The destroyer of the care [GLADDENER] of the wolf [lit. heath-goer] [WARRIOR] had both eyes of the emperor stabbed out; war was under way then. The overlord of the Egðir [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr] placed a hostile mark on the daring prince in the east, and the ruler of the Greeks [= Michael] travelled a dire road.
Ok hertoga hneykir
herfingnum lét stinga
— leyfð berk hans — ór hǫfði
haugs skundaði augu.
 
‘And the confounder of war-leaders [RULER] had the eyes stabbed out of the head of the war-captured impeller of the mound [GENEROUS RULER]; I proffer a eulogy of him [Haraldr].
Reist eikikjǫlr austan
ǫrðigt vatn ór Gǫrðum;
Svíar tœðu þér síðan,
snjallr landreki, allir.
Gekk með golli miklu
— glygg fell ótt of tyggja —
hǫll á hléborð sollin
Haralds skeið und vef breiðum.
 
‘The oaken keel clove the mounting water from the east out of Russia (Garðar); all the Swedes supported you after that, valiant land-ruler. Haraldr’s waterlogged warship advanced with much gold, listing to the leeward under her broad sail; a raging storm fell upon the prince.
Vatn lézt, vísi, slitna,
víðkunnr, of skǫr þunnri,
(dýr klufu flóð) þars fóruð
(flaust) í Danmǫrk austan.
Bauð hǫlf við sik síðan
sonr Ôleifs þér (hôla
frændr, hykk, at þar fyndisk
fegnir) lǫnd ok þegna.
 
‘You caused the water to be parted, wide-famed leader, around the thin planking, as you travelled from the east into Denmark; the splendid ships clove the flood. Then Óláfr’s son [= Magnús] offered you half the lands and retainers with himself; I think that the kinsmen met there most joyfully.
Gegn skyli herr, sem hugnar,
hjaldrvitjaðar sitja,
dolgstœranda dýrum,
dróttinvandr ok standa.
Lýtr folkstara feiti
(fátt es til, nema játta
þat, sem þá vill gotnum)
þjóð ǫll (konungr bjóða).
 
‘The worthy troop of the battle-frequenter [WARRIOR] must sit and stand lord-loyal, as it pleases the excellent war-sweller [WARRIOR]. The whole people bends to the fattener of the war-starling [RAVEN > WARRIOR]; there is little option except to agree to what the king wants to command men at the time.
Frôn hefr sveit við Sveini
sinni skipt, til minna,
dôð ok dróttni góðum;
drengspell es þat lengi.
 
‘The splendid troop with Sveinn has exchanged its heroism and worthy lord for the lesser [choice]; that will be a blot on nobility for a long time.
Lét vingjafa veitir
varghollr dreka skolla
lystr fyr leiðangrs brjósti
— liðs oddr vas þat — miðju.
 
‘The eager, wolf-gracious bestower of friendly gifts [GENEROUS RULER] made the dragon-ship rock at the middle of the forefront of the expeditionary fleet; that was the spearhead of the host.
Fast bað fylking hrausta
friðvandr jǫfurr standa;
hamalt sýndisk mér hǫmlur
hildings vinir skilda.
Rammsyndan lauk rǫndum
ráðandi manndáða
nýtr fyr Nizi útan
naðr, svát hver tók aðra.
 
‘The peace-concerned ruler ordered the valiant troop to stand firm; I witnessed [lit. it appeared to me that] the friends of the commander setting shields at the rowing-positions, in a wedge-shape. The excellent performer of manly deeds [RULER] enclosed the strong-swimming serpent with shields off the Nissan, so that each one abutted the next.
Alm dró upplenzkr hilmir
alla nôtt inn snjalli;
hremsur lét á hvítar
hlífr landreki drífa.
Brynmǫnnum smó benjar
blóðugr oddr, þars stóðu
— flugr óx †fannings† vigra —
Finna gjǫld í skjǫldum.
 
‘The valiant Oppland king drew his elm-bow all night long; the land-ruler made shafts pelt onto white shields. The bloody point pierced wounds on the byrnie-men, where the tribute of the Saami [ARROWS] penetrated shields; the flight of †fanning’s† spears increased.
Flest vas hirð, sús hraustum
hrafns fœði vel tœði,
dauð, áðr dǫglingr næði,
døkks, á land at støkkva.
Skóp furðu þá skerði
skipun ǫll (vas þá) snjǫllum
hrings (til Heljar genginn
hverr fótr) konungs Jóta.
 
‘Most of the troop, who served the bold feeder of the dark raven [WARRIOR = Sveinn] well, was dead by the time the prince managed to leap ashore. The whole company of the king of the Jótar [DANISH KING = Sveinn] performed for the valiant damager of the ring [GENEROUS MAN] a marvel then; every foot had then marched off to death’s realm.
Sogns kvôðu gram gegnan
glæst sjau tøgu it fæsta
senn á svipstund einni
Sveins þjóðar skip hrjóða.
 
‘They said that the upright lord of Sogn [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr] cleared adorned ships of Sveinn’s people, at least seventy at once, in a single fleeting time.
Sveinn át sigr at launa
sex þeim, es hvǫt vexa,
innan eina gunni,
ǫrleiks, Dana jǫrlum.
Varð, sás vildit forða,
vígbjartr, snǫru hjarta,
í fylkingu fenginn
Fiðr Árnasonr miðri.
 
‘Sveinn does not have to reward those six jarls of the Danes for victory in one battle, in whom the incitement of munificence does not swell. Finnr Árnason, who did not want to save his valiant heart, was, battle-bright, captured in the midst of the troop.
Nús of verk, þaus vísi,
vandmælt, svát af standisk,
auðan plóg at eiga
Upplendingum kenndi.
Sér hefr svá langs tírar
svinns, at æ mun vinnask,
þríu missari þessi
þengils hǫfuð fengit.
 
‘Now it is difficult to speak, so that it is adequate, of the deeds by which the prince taught the Upplendingar to own a barren plough. The head of the prudent lord has won itself such enduring glory these three seasons that it will last for ever.
Létu lystir sleitu
landkarlar gram varla
— gerði ǫld á jǫrðu
ódœmi — lǫg sœma.
En, því ráði þjóðar,
þeim brutu troll, es ollu,
hæls í hleypikjóla
hrís andskotum vísa.
 
‘The landsmen, eager for strife, hardly allowed the king to honour the law; the people committed outrage in the land. But trolls broke brushwood in the speeding ships of the heel [SHOES] of those adversaries of the prince who directed that action of the people.
Tók Holmbúa hneykir
harðan taum við Rauma;
þar hykk fast ins frœkna
fylking Haralds gingu.
Eldr vas gǫrr at gjaldi;
gramr réð, en þá téði
hár í hóf at fœra
hrótgarmr búendr arma.
 
‘The confounder of the Island-dwellers [= Haraldr] took a hard rein against the Raumar; there I think the troop of the bold Haraldr advanced strongly. Fire was used in requital; the king had his way, and the towering roof-hound [FIRE] served then to bring the wretched farmers into moderation.
Gagn brann greypra þegna;
glóð varð fǫst í tróði;
laust hertoga hristir
Heina illum steini.
Lífs bôðu sér lýðir;
logi þingaði Hringum
nauðgan dóm, áðr næmisk
niðrfall Hôolfs galla.
 
‘The assets of bold retainers burned up; embers were lodged in the thatch; the shaker of war-leaders [RULER] struck the Heinir with a dire stone. The people begged for their lives; fire pronounced on the Hringar an enforced verdict, before the cessation of the destruction of Hálfr <legendary king> [FIRE] took place.
Fœrði fylkir Hǫrða
— friðr namsk ár it þriðja —
— rendr bitu stôl fyr strǫndu —
starf til króks at hvarfi.
 
‘The ruler of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr] brought the task to completion finally; peace took hold in the third year; steel weapons had bitten shields by the shore.
Áræðis naut eyðir
aldyggr Selundbyggva;
hugr ræðr hǫlfum sigri
— Haraldr sannar þat — manna.
 
‘The most excellent destroyer of Sjælland-dwellers [= Haraldr] deployed his valour; men’s courage determines half the victory; Haraldr is the proof of that.
Refsir reyndan ofsa
ráðgegn Haraldr þegnum;
hykk, at hilmis rekkar
haldi upp, þvís valda.
Sverðs hafa slíkar byrðar
— sanns nýtr hverr við annan —
— Haraldr skiptir svá heiptum —
hljótendr, es sér brjóta.
 
‘The purposeful Haraldr punishes his retainers for their proven arrogance; I think the prince’s warriors are paying for what they start. The possessors of the sword [WARRIORS] have such burdens as they break off for themselves; each gains what is right from the other; Haraldr deals out hostility in this way.
Mǫrk lét veitt fyr verka
vekjandi mér snekkju
(hann lætr hylli sinnar)
hjaldrs (tilgørðir valda).
 
‘The rouser of the warship’s battle [WARRIOR] had me presented with a mark for my poetry; he lets deserving actions determine his favour.
Ǫrð sær Yrsu burðar
inndrótt jǫfurr sinni
bjartplógaðan bauga
brattakr vǫluspakra.
Eyss landreki ljósu
lastvarr Kraka barri
á hlæmyldar holdi
hauks kǫlfur mér sjǫlfum.
 
‘The prince sows with the grain of the offspring of Yrsa [= Hrólfr kraki > GOLD] the bright-ploughed steep field of joint-calm rings [ARM] of his retinue. The fault-shunning land-ruler sprinkles bright barley of Kraki (‘Pole-ladder’) <legendary king> [GOLD] on my own territories of the hawk [ARMS], warmly soil-covered with flesh.
Lét hræteina hveiti
hrynja gramr ór brynju;
vill, at vexti belli
valbygg, Haraldr, Yggjar.
 
‘The king caused wheat of carrion-twigs [SPEARS] to pour out of his mail-coat; Haraldr wants the barley of the falcon of Yggr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’) RAVEN > CORPSES] to display increase.
Blóðorra lætr barri
bragningr ara fagna;
Gauts berr sigð á sveita
svans ǫrð konungr Hǫrða.
 
‘The sovereign lets the blood-grouse [RAVEN] rejoice in the eagle’s barley [CORPSES]; the king of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr] wields the sickle of Gautr <= Óðinn> [SWORD] on the corn of the swan of blood [RAVEN > CORPSES].
Geirs oddum lætr greddir
grunn hvert stika sunnar
hirð, þats hann skal varða,
hrægamms ara sævar.
 
‘The feeder of the corpse-vulture of the sea of the eagle [BLOOD > RAVEN > WARRIOR] has his retinue barricade with spear points, further south, every shallow [lit. ‘each shallow’] that he has to defend.
Gera vas gisting byrjuð
gnóg, en ulf* ór skógi
sonr á sôr at spenja
Sigvorðar kom norðan.
 
‘Plentiful hospitality was initiated for Geri <wolf>, and the son of Sigurðr [= Haraldr] came from the north to entice the wolf from the forest onto the wounds.
Hár skyli hirðar stjóri
hugreifr sonum leifa
arf ok óðaltorfu
— ósk mín es þat — sína.
 
‘The tall, mind-cheerful commander of the retinue [RULER] shall leave his sons his legacy and hereditary turf; that is my wish.
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