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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Svartr á Hofstöðum (Svart)

volume 8; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

VIII. Skaufhala bálkr (Skauf) - 42

not in Skj

Svartr (desyllabified Svartur) á Hofstöðum (Svart) is named in a first-person epilogue to Skaufhala bálkrBálkr about Tassel-tail’ (Svart Skauf 42/4) but his identity is uncertain. The internal evidence of the language and metre of Skauf, together with circumstantial evidence and an evaluation of the sources, point to Svartr Þorleifsson (d. 1392) from Hofstaðir, Reykhólar, Þorskafjörður, north-western Iceland, as the most likely candidate, though two other members of his family were also named Svartr and associated with Hofstaðir and there are two further traditions about authorship (see Introduction to Skauf). Very little is known about Svartr’s life. He appears to have been severely wounded during a fight at the alþingi in 1361, and the year before he died (1391) he went to Norway (see Storm 1888, 367, 407, 420). He apparently had two sons, Páll and Gísli (Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 222).

Skaufhala bálkr — Svart SkaufVIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Svartr á Hofstöðum, Skaufhala bálkr’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 948.

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SkP info: VIII, 948

notes: Kari 26/5/8: The entry is 'Skaufhala bálkur', which is printed in Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 229-35. The mss given are AM 603 4to and Rask 87 8to

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Hefir í grenjum
gamall skaufhali
leingi búið
hjá langhölu.
Átt hafa þau sier
als upp talda
átján sonu
og eina dóttur.
Old Tassel-tail has lived long in lairs with Long-tail. All told, they have had eighteen sons and one daughter.
2 Því voru nítján
niðjar skaufhala
hunds jafningja
heldr en tuttugu,
— þar sannaðiz forn
fyrða mæli —
að oft verðr örgum
eins vant á tög.
It was for that reason that there were nineteen offspring of Tassel-tail, a dog’s equal, rather than twenty because the wicked one often lacks one from ten; there the old saying of men came true.
3 Þá voru burtu
börn skaufhala
flestöll farin
ór föðurgarði.
Þó voru eftir
þeim til fylgdar
þrír yrmlingar
og þeira dóttir.
Then almost all of Tassel-tail’s children had gone away from their father’s dwelling. Yet three small vermin and their daughter were left as company for them.
4 Mælti gortanni
við grenlægju:
‘Hvað skulum vinna
vier til þarfa?
Við erum orðin
veiklunduð mjög
hryggsnauð harla
en halar rotnaðir.’
Filth-tooth spoke to the lair-lier [VIXEN]: ‘What should we do for our sustenance? We have become very weak-minded, exceedingly bare on our backs, and our tails have shed their hair.’
5 Svarar grenlægja
gömul á móti:
‘Nú eru á burtu
börn okkur roskin,
en þau ung,
sem eftir sitja,
og enn ekki
á legg komin.
The old lair-lier [VIXEN] answers in return: ‘Now our grown children have left, and those who remain [are] young and [have] not yet reached adulthood.
6 ‘Lítill er missir
í mínum ungum;
atvinna brestr
okkur bæði.
Hafðir þú áður
hæri útvegu*;
nægtir voru þá
og nógar vistir.
‘There is little lacking in my young ones; sustenance fails for us both. Earlier you had better remedies; there was abundance then and plentiful provisions.
7 ‘Sannaz má það,
að sýniz þú gamall
og stirðfættur
að strjúka heiman
og matvæli
mier að afla
niðjum okkar
til nauðþurftar.
‘It will prove true that you seem [too] old and stiff-legged to dash off from home and provide me with food supplies for the desperate need of our offspring.
8 ‘Þú munt heiman
halda verða
og afla bráða
til bús okkars.
Væri það skára
í venju að leggja,
sem virðum má
vest gegna.’
‘You’ll have to go away from home and provide meat for our household. It would be better to make a habit of whatever will serve humans the worst.’
9 Mælti þanninn
móðir dratthala:
‘Matr er ei meiri
mier í höndum:
hál rófubein
og hryggr ór lambi,
bógleggir þrír
og banakringla’.
The mother spoke to Dragging-tail in this way: ‘There is no more food at my disposal: slippery tailbones and a backbone of lamb, three shoulder bones and an upper neck bone.’
10 ‘Svó er nú liðið,’
segir lágfæta,
‘loðbakur minn,
langt á tíma.
Vón er upp hieðan
veðra harðra,
en að höndum kominn
haustþústr mikill.
‘Now the year is already so far advanced, my Woolly-back,’ says Short-legs. ‘There is expectation of hard storms from now on, and a great autumn gale has arrived here.
11 ‘Betra er nú
bráða að leita,
en þá fyrðar
fie sitt geyma.
Liggja með brúnum
lömb hvervetna
en á fjalli
feitir sauðir.’
‘It is better to look for meat now than when men are watching their livestock. Lambs lie everywhere along the ridges and fat sheep in the mountains.’
12 ‘Sá er nú tími,’
segir rebbhali,
‘sem seggir munu
að sauðum ganga.
Víst er alstaðar
vón upp hieðan,
mun á fjöllum
mannferð mikil.’
‘Now is the time,’ says Foxtail, ‘when men will search for the sheep. There’s certainly the expectation everywhere from now on [that] a great commotion of men will [be] in the mountains.’
13 ‘Vissa eg eigi
víst,’ segir tófa,
‘að þú huglaust
hjarta bærir.
Þú vilt bölvaður
til bana svelta
afkvæmi þitt
og okkr bæði.’
‘Didn’t I know indeed,’ says the vixen, ‘that you had a cowardly heart. Cursed, you wish to starve your offspring and both of us to death.’
14 ‘Þú skalt ráða,’
segir rebbhali,
‘við mun eg leita
vista að afla.
Þó hafa nornir
þess um mig spáð,
að mier gömlum
glæpaz mundi.’
‘You shall have your way,’ says Foxtail, ‘I’ll try to procure provisions. Yet the norns have predicted this about me, that I, the old one, would be enticed into trouble.’
15 Fór heiman þá
fljótt dratthali
og ætlar sier
afla að fanga.
Fann skjótliga
fimtán sauði
og einn af þeim
allvel feitan.
Then Dragging-tail quickly set off from home and intends to procure provisions for himself. He soon found fifteen sheep and one of them [was] wonderfully fat.
16 Það var geldingr
gambrliga stórr
grákollóttur
gamall að aldri.
Vendir skolli
víst að hónum
og með tönnum
tók í lagða.
That was a braggingly big castrated ram, grey, without horns, old in age. The fox indeed turns at him and grabbed the woolly tufts with his teeth.
17 Svó lauk skiftum
skolla og sauðar,
að grákollur
giekk frá lífi.
Bjóz dratthali
burt* heim þaðan;
hafði sauð feingið
sier til vista.
The dealings of the fox and the sheep ended in such a way that grey-skull departed from life. Dragging-tail prepared to set off home from there; he had obtained a sheep for his provisions.
18 Nú skal segja
nökkuð fleira
frá ferðum hans
fyst að sinni.
Heim kom síðla
sauðbítr gamall
svangr og sofinn
svó til grenja.
Now I’ll for the first time say something more about his travels. The old sheep-biter [FOX] came home late, hungry and sleepy, thus to the lairs.
19 Kallar kámleitr
á konu sína
heldr hvasseygður
hunds jafningi:
‘Má eg segja þier
frá mínum ferðum
heldr hrakliga,
sem mier hugr sagði.
The dark-coloured one calls to his wife, rather keen-eyed, a dog’s equal: ‘I can tell you about my travels, rather ignominiously, as my mind told me.
20 ‘Það var í morgin,
þá eg heiman fór;
hafða eg feingið mier
feitar bráðir,
bundið bagga
og á bak mier lagðan;
hugðumz heim flytja
hann til bygða.
‘It happened this morning, when I was out; I had obtained fat meat for myself, tied up a bag and put it on my back; I intended to bring it home to the settlements.
21 ‘Þá varð mier litið
í lág eina,
hvar að háfættr maðr
hljóp kallandi.
Fór með hónum
ferlíki mikið
kolsvart að lit;
kenda eg hunza.
‘Then I happened to see from a fallen tree where a long-legged man was running shouting. A large monstrous thing, coal-black in colour, ran with him; I recognised the dog.
22 ‘Rietti hann trýni,
rak upp sjónir,
og kendi þegar,
hvar eg keifaða.
Mier kom heldr í hug,
hvað hann vildi;
vatt eg af mier
vænni byrði.
‘He stretched out his snout, turned up his eyes and discovered at once where I was struggling along. It rather came into my mind what he wanted; I threw the handsome burden off me.
23 ‘Hann tók á skeiði
skjótt eftir mier;
skundar hvatliga,
og skrefaði stórum.
Hljóp eg fráliga
heldur undan;
leitaða eg við
lífi að forða.
‘He quickly began to run after me; he hurries swiftly and strode with long steps. I rushed rather rapidly away; I tried to save my life.
24 ‘Fóru við leingi
um fjallshlíð eina
upp og ofan,
svó undrum gegndi.
Hitta eg hamarskarð
og holu eina;
hlaut eg inn þangað
hræddr að smjúga.
‘We ran for a long time along one mountain slope, up and down, so it was a marvel. I found a crag-cleft and a hole; terrified, I managed to slip in there.
25 ‘Var gren þetta
grjóti um hvorfið;
mátti hundur þar
hvergi inn komaz.
Gó hann grimmliga,
þá hann gat ekki
garpr ginmikill
gripið mig tönnum.
‘This den was surrounded by stones; the dog could not get in anywhere there. He howled horribly when he was not able to catch me with his teeth, the jaw-mighty fellow.
26 ‘Þar húkta eg,
þó mier ilt þætta,
heldr hundeygður,
og hræddumz dauða.
Hljóp hinn háfætti
fyrir holu munna;
hafði staf stóran;
stakk inn til mín.
‘There I cowered, though I thought it bad for me, rather dog-eyed, and feared death. The long-legged one ran before the mouths of the hole; he had a large stick; he jabbed [it] in at me.
27 ‘Mier kom á síðu
mikill stafs endi;
mátta eg hvergi
undan hlaupa.
Þá brotnuðu
þrjóts fyrir skafti
um þvert þungliga
þrjú rifin í mier.
‘The large end of the stick hit my side; I couldn’t escape anywhere. Then three ribs broke right across inside me, painfully, because of the shaft of the stubborn one.
28 ‘Víða er eg þó
vorðinn mjög sárr
stráks af stingjum
og stafs enda.
Hier kom þó að lyktum,
að hann heim leitaði,
og hafði bagga minn
burt gjörvallan.
‘All the same, I’ve been badly wounded in many places from the stabs of the tramp and the end of the staff. All the same, the end of it was that he headed home and took away my entire bag.
29 ‘Svó hafa aldri,
síz eg leitaða við,
mier svó tekiz
mínar ferðir.
Það er hugboð mitt,
að hieðan mun eg eiga
skjótt skapliga
skamt ólifað.
‘Thus my travels have never, since I embarked on them, turned out like that for me. It is my premonition, that henceforth I’ll soon [and] deservedly have a short time to live.
30 Hef eg margan heldr
hála feitan
sauð snarliga
sviftan lífi,
tínt kiðlinga,
en týnt lambgymbrum,
gripið geldinga
og gamalrollur.
‘I’ve rather swiftly deprived many a splendidly fat sheep of its life, picked lambs and killed young ewes, seized castrated rams and old feeble ewes.
31 ‘Hef eg með ströndu
strokið jafnliga
og heima jafnan
um hauga snuðrað.
Bitið hef eg álar,
belt klyppingum,
rifið af þönum
riett húð hverja.
‘I’ve regularly rushed along the beach and always sniffed around the hillocks of the homesteads. I’ve bitten leather thongs, destroyed shorn sheepskins, ripped every hide right off the racks.
32 ‘Hef eg oftliga
óþarfr verið
bændafólki
í bygð þessi,
skoðað jafnliga
skreið í hjöllum,
riklinga rár
og rafabelti.
‘I’ve frequently been destructive to the farming population in this settlement, regularly eyed stockfish in the racks, the stakes with dried flesh of halibut and their fattest strips.
33 ‘Hef eg íhentað mier
hákallslykkjur
og höggið mier
hvinna snepla.
Eiga mier allir,
ef eg einskis dyl,
ýtar oftliga
ilt að launa.
‘I’ve fetched myself shark-loops and cut myself thieves’ snippets. All people often have bad deeds to repay me, if I deny nothing.
34 ‘Forðaz vissa eg
vielar gjörvallar,
þó að fyrðar þær
fyrir mig setti.
Þurfti eingi
þess að leita,
því að eg vissa
vielar gjörvallar.
‘I knew how to escape every single trap, though people set them for me. No one needed to try that, because I knew all traps.
35 ‘Fannz sá eingi
fyrr nie síðar
hundr háfættur
eða hestr í bygðum,
að mig á hlaupi
hefði uppi;
var eg frára dýr
en flestöll önnur.
‘No long-legged dog or horse that could catch me in a chase was found in the settlements, early or late; I was a swifter animal than almost all others.
36 ‘Nú tekr elli
að mier sækja;
má eg alls ekki
á mig treysta:
farinn fráleikur,
fitskór troðnir,
tenn sljófgaðar
en toppr ór enni.
‘Now old age begins to attack me; I cannot trust in myself at all: swiftness gone, skin-shoes downtrodden, teeth dulled and the tuft [fallen] from my forehead.
37 ‘Mun eg til rekkju
reika verða;
mier tekr verkur
að vaxa í síðu.
Svó hef eg ætlað:
sjá mun dagr koma
mier yfir höfuð
minn inn síðasti.
‘I’ll have to stagger to bed; the pain begins to increase in my side. This is what I’ve expected: this day, my last one, will come upon me.
38 ‘Það hlægir mig:
þó mun hier koma
ór ætt minni
annarr verri.
Hann mun mann gjöra
margan sauðlausan
og aldri upp giefa
ilt að vinna.
‘This cheers me: another, worse, will nonetheless emerge here out of my family. He’ll make many a man sheepless and never desist from doing harm.
39 ‘Hann mun óþarfr
ýtum verða
bændum og búum
um bygðir allar,
stela og ræna
stórum fie manna,
morðvargr meiri,
en man eg í sveitum.
‘He’ll become destructive to people, to farmers and farmsteads throughout all settlements, steal and rob men’s livestock exceedingly, a greater outlawed murderer than I remember in the districts.
40 ‘Mun eg nú linna
og láta af þessu;
vill hel sækja
hvern um síðir.
Fer mier svó
sem flestum öðrum,
að dauði drepr
drótt og kindur.’
‘Now I’ll cease and leave off this; death will seek out everyone in the end. It shall happen to me as to most others, that death strikes people and offspring.’
41 Bjóz þá skolli
í ból sitt fara;
beit hann helstingi
hart til bana.
Þar mun hann verða
þjófr afgamall
líf að láta;
lokið er kvæði.
Then the fox prepared to go into his den; mortal pain bit him hard to death. There he has to end his life, the ancient thief; the poem is finished.
42 Hefir bálk þennan
og barngælur
sett og samið
Svartr á Hofstöðum
mier til gamans
en meinþurðar
meingi ófróðu;
mun eg nú þagna.
Svartr from Hofstaðir has composed and put together this poem and nursery rhymes for the pleasure of myself and [for] the entertainment of an uneducated multitude; now I shall be silent.
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