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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Merlínusspá I — GunnLeif Merl IVIII (Bret)

Gunnlaugr Leifsson

Russell Poole 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 38.

 

Nú skalk flotnum,         þats forðum vas,
— hlýði fróðir mér         fyrðar — segja,
at buðlungr sat         Bretlandi at;
hét vellskati         Vortígernus.
 
‘Listen to me, wise men; now I shall tell men what once was, that a king resided in Britain; the generous man was called Vortigern.
Jǫrð vas forðum         fyrr kend Bretum,
sús Englum es         eignuð síðan,
þvíat in enska þjóð         áðan vélti
breks ósama         brezka lýði.
 
‘The land, which has since been assigned to the English, was previously called after the Britons in former days, for the English people beforehand deceived the British people, [who were] averse to the extortion of land.
Ok láð þeira         með liði miklu
sjǫlf eignaðisk         í sǫgum fornum.
Ok, þars kristnir         kœnir byggja,
áðr tók heiðin þjóð         hallir smíða.
 
‘And according to the ancient stories, they themselves took possession of their land with a great army. And where wise Christians settle, heathen people had previously taken to constructing halls.
Es áttbogi         enskrar þjóðar
saxneskr sagaðr         í sǫgum fornum.
Þaðan eflðusk þeir         til þrimu geira
landi at ræna         lofðung Breta.
 
‘The lineage of the English people is said in ancient stories to be Saxon. From there they strengthened themselves for the clash of spears [BATTLE] to deprive the king of the Britons of the land.
En hers jaðarr         halda máttit
brezkri jǫrðu         né bauga fjǫlð.
Alt fór inn heiðni         herr it eystra
eldi ok jarni         eylands jaðar.
 
‘And the leader of the army [RULER = Vortigern] could not hold the British land nor the mass of treasures. The heathen army overran the edge of the island, all the east, with fire and iron.
En hertogi         hœlis leitar;
gerisk traustan turn         tyggi at smíða.
Ok þangat til         þeirar gerðar
samnar mǫrgum         mildingr smiðum.
 
‘But the duke searches for a stronghold; the lord sets about building a trusty tower. And the king assembles many craftsmen there for that work.
Kómu til smíðar         spakir vǫlundar
— þats ýtum sagt —         uppi í fjalli.
En, þats drengir         á degi gerðu,
sá þess engan stað         annan morgin.
 
‘Skilful builders came to the work up on the mountain; that is told to men. But what the men achieved by day, nowhere was it to be seen the next morning.
Kalla lét fylkir         fróða seggi;
frá gunnþorinn         gramr hvat olli,
es gǫrla hvarf         grundvǫllr sá brott,
se*m grund gǫmul         gleypði steina
eða †hamloðin         harmin seldi†.
 
‘The king had wise men summoned; the battle-bold lord inquired what was the cause, when that foundation completely vanished, as if the ancient earth swallowed stones or … .
Einn vas maðr sá,         es myrkva frétt
fyr skata skýrum         skynja kunni.
Hét yngva vinr         Ambrósíus,
en inn ágæti         ǫðru nafni
Merlínus sá         maðr kallaðisk.
 
‘That man was [the] only [one], who could explain the obscure portent to the wise king. The friend of the king was called Ambrosius but that excellent man was known by another name, Merlin.
Þat kvað valda         verdags hǫtuðr,
at þar undir vas         ólítit vatn.
Bauð grund grafa         gumna stjóri;
reynisk spaklig         spámanns saga.
 
‘The hater of the sea-day [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Merlin] said the cause was that a not small lake lay underneath. The commander of men [RULER = Vortigern] ordered the ground to be dug up; the prophet’s account turns out to be percipient.
Ok inn fróði halr         frétti lofða,
hvat und vatni         væri niðri.
Ok, es engi þat         annarr vissi,
sagði fylki         fleinþollr spǫkum:
 
‘And the wise man asked people what was further down beneath the lake. And, when nobody else knew that, the spear-fir [WARRIOR = Merlin] said to the sagacious king:
‘Sofa þar í dimmu         djúpi niðri
tvennir ormar         tveim hellum í.
Þeir eru lindar         lands ólíkir;
sék rauða seil         rás ok hvíta.
 
‘‘Two snakes sleep there in the dark depth down in two caves. Those girdles of the land [SNAKES] are unlike [one another]; I see a red and a white rope of the earth [SNAKE].
‘Lát grund grafa,         gera skorninga,’
sagði Merlínus         menja deili.
‘Veitið vatni,         ok vitið síðan,
hvat spát hafi         spillir bauga,
— þat es nýlunda —         niðr ór fjalli.’
 
‘‘Have the earth dug, form channels,’ Merlin said to the sharer of neck-rings [GENEROUS MAN = Vortigern]. ‘Drain the lake down from the mountain and then find out what the despoiler of rings [GENEROUS MAN = Merlin] has prophesied; that is a novelty.’
Gerðu greppar,         þats gumnum bauð;
varð vatni niðr         veitt ór fjalli.
Ok seimgefendr         snáka þekðu
tryggðarlausa,         sem Týr firum
hafði Hristar         hugspár sagat.
 
‘Men did as he ordered them; the lake was drained down from the mountain. And the givers of treasure [GENEROUS MEN] could see the treacherous snakes, just as the prophetic-minded Týr <god> of Hrist <valkyrie> [WARRIOR = Merlin] had said to men.
Ok drjúgligir         drekar vǫknuðu;
gerðusk báðir         brott úr rúmi.
Rennask síðan         snart at móti
fróns fásýnir         frœknir baugar.
 
‘And the mighty serpents woke; both moved away from their resting-places. The rarely-seen ferocious rings of the earth [SNAKES] then swiftly run towards each other.
Gerisk sókn mikil         snáka tveggja;
gapa grimmliga         grundar belti.
Hǫggvask hœknir         hauðrs gyrðingar,
blásask eitri á         ok blôm eldi.
 
‘A great fight commences between the two snakes; the belts of the ground [SNAKES] gape savagely. The vicious girdles of the earth [SNAKES] strike each other, blow venom and blue fire on each other.
Forflótti vas         fránn inn rauði;
bar inn ljósi hann         liðr at bakka.
En hann hagliga         hrøkkr at móti;
elti hann inn hvíta         hugtrúr dreka.
 
‘The red serpent took flight, the white snake drove it to the bank. But it [the red snake] nimbly twists to resist; valiant, it pursued the white serpent.
Þeir víg gera         vatns farveg í,
ok lengi hvatt         linnar berjask.
Mega ormar þar         ýmsir meira
ok ýmsir þar         undan leggja.
 
‘They wage battle in the lake’s outlet and the snakes fight each other fiercely for a long time. Now one snake, now the other has the advantage there; now one, now the other takes refuge there.
‘Seg, Merlínus,’         kvað menbroti,
‘— est þú fróðari         fyrðum ǫðrum —,
hvat tákna mun         tveggja orma
ógurligt víg         aldar bǫrnum.’
 
‘‘Say, Merlin,’ said the neck-ring breaker [GENEROUS MAN = Vortigern], ‘— you are wiser than other men —, what the fearsome battle of the two snakes will mean for the children of men.’
Grét gumna vinr,         es hann greiða bað
þengill gǫfugr         þessa hegju.
Ok eptir þat         aldar snytrir
rǫkstælta spá         rekkum sagði.
 
‘The friend of men wept when the noble king bade him explain this happening. And after that the teacher of the people [PROPHET = Merlin] spoke well-grounded prophecy to the men.
‘Táknar inn rauði         rás fagrsili,’
kvað bjóðr bragar,         ‘brezka lýði,
en inn hvíti naðr         ina heiðnu þjóð,
es byggja mun         brezkar jarðir.
 
‘‘The red fine rope of the earth [SNAKE],’ said the offerer of poetry [POET = Merlin], ‘stands for the British people, and the white snake for the heathen folk who will settle the British lands.
‘Es harmr mikill         hǫlðum at segja;
segik sigr hafa         snák inn hvíta.
Láð mun leggjask         ok lýða fjǫlð;
munu dreyrgar ár         ór dǫlum falla.
 
‘‘A great sorrow is to be told to men; I say the white snake has the victory. The land and the multitude of people will be subjugated; blood-stained rivers will fall from the valleys.
‘Farask mun krístni,         kirkjur falla;
sás harmr hǫfugr;         herr es í landi.
Þá mun enn eflask         in auma þjóð;
áðr es harðla hnekt         hennar kosti.
 
‘‘Christianity will vanish, churches collapse; that is a grievous sorrow; the [invading] army is in the land. Then the miserable people will gain strength once more; prior to that their welfare is sorely checked.
‘Mun þar í líki         lofðungr koma
— sás vegligastr —         villigaltar.
Hann fulltingir         fárôðum her
ok und fótum trøðr         ferðir Saxa.
 
‘‘A king will come there in the likeness of a wild boar; he is the most glorious. He will help the bewildered army and will tread the armies of the Saxons underfoot.
‘Fersk undir hann         foldu grœnni
ok eyja fjǫlð         í úthafi,
Íra ok Engla         ok Út-Skota,
víðum lǫndum         valskra þjóða,
Nóregs síðu         ok Norðr-Dana.
 
‘‘Under him is brought the green land and a multitude of islands in the outer ocean, of the Irish and the English and the outlying Scots, extensive territories of the French people, the coast of Norway and [lands] of the northern Danes.
‘Ok Rúmverjar         ræsi ugga;
megut reisa þeir         rǫnd við stilli.
Mart veitk annat         of menbrota,
en óglǫgt sék         ørlǫg konungs.
 
‘‘And the Romans will fear the king; they will not be able to raise a shield against the lord. I know much else about the breaker of ring [GENEROUS MAN = Arthur], but the fate of the king I see indistinctly.
‘Hann munu tígna         tungur lýða;
sá mun gramr vera         gumnum tíðastr.
Ey mun uppi         ǫðlings frami
ok hans hróðr fara         með himinskautum.
 
‘‘The tongues of men will honour him; that king will be the most renowned among men. The lord’s prowess will always be remembered and his glory will travel to the corners of heaven.
‘Ok ôttungar         ins ítra grams
laða at lofðungi         landi ok þegnum.
En eptir þat         orms ins hvíta
verðr meira vald         en verit hafði.
 
‘‘And the descendants of the illustrious king will attract land and subjects to the ruler. But after that the power of the white snake will become greater than it had been.
‘Honum fulltingir         Fenrir sjóvar,
þeims Affríkar         útan fylgja.
Verðr kristnibrot         of kyni þjóðar;
þó munu sjalfir         síðar nøkkvi
enskir lýðir         allir skírask.
 
‘‘The Fenrir <mythical wolf> of the sea, which Africans follow from overseas, will help it. There will be a breakdown of Christianity among the kindred of the people; yet the English people will themselves all be baptised somewhat later.
‘Líðr byskups stóll         Lundúnum ór
í ina breiðu         borg Kantara.
Ok langa tígn         Légíónum
taka mun in mæta         Menelógía.
 
‘‘The bishop’s seat will move from London to the broad Canterbury. And the splendid Menelogia will take over the long-held distinction of Caerleon.
‘Stór verða rǫk,         rignir blóði,
hár snarpr at þat         sultr mannkyni.
En inn rauði snákr         eflisk síðan;
fær hann af miklu         mátt erfiði.
 
‘‘Great wonders will occur, it will rain with blood, acute famine will thereupon afflict mankind. But the red snake gathers strength afterwards; he will acquire power from great exertion.
‘Líðr nauðr yfir         naðr inn hvíta;
es hans kyn kvalit         ok konur ristnar.
Ræntr es hann borgum         ok búi mǫrgu,
fé hvers konar,         foldu grœnni;
eru grimmliga         gumnar drepnir.
 
‘‘Hardship will overwhelm the white snake; his kindred will be tormented and his women lacerated. He will be robbed of cities and many an estate, property of every kind, the green land; men will be slaughtered savagely.
‘Hníga fyr brezkum         bragninga kon
siklingar sjau,         sigri numnir.
Ok heilagr verðr         herja deilir
einn af enskum         ǫðlingum sjau.
 
‘‘Seven kings, deprived of victory, will fall before the British scion of kings [KING = Caduallo]. And the commander of armies [LEADER = S. Oswald], one of the seven English lords, will become a saint.
‘Sá, es slíkt gerir,         mun sjalfr taka
eirmann á sik,         aldar stjóri;
ok of hô hliði         hilmir síðan
eirhesti á         ítarligr sitr.
Gætir Lundúna         lofsæll konungr.
 
‘‘That ruler of the people [KING = Caduallo] who does this will take a copper form upon himself, and thenceforward the ruler will sit in splendour on a copper horse above the high gate. The renowned king will watch over London.
‘Þá gerisk þat         of þjóð Breta,
es þeim enn hefir         áðr of grandat,
at þeir sjalfir sízt         sáttir verða.
Deila þeir of veldi         ok of víða fold;
eru kappsamar         kindir brezkar.
 
‘‘Then it will come about for the British people, as has also harmed them in the past, that they themselves will not at all be in harmony. They will compete for power and for the wide territory; the British peoples will be in rivalry.
‘Kemr bardagi         buðlungs himins
ákafr of her,         ári steypir.
Kvelr inn harði         helverkr fira;
megut dauðan her         dróttir hylja.
Líðr sultr ok sótt         at sigrviðum
— missir manna —         mǫrg stríð hǫfug.
 
‘‘The violent scourge of the king of heaven [= God] will come over the people, will ruin the harvest. The harsh torment of Hell will afflict men; men will not be able to bury the dead people. Hunger and sickness will advance on victory-trees [WARRIORS], [and] many grievous hardships; there is loss of men.
‘Láð munu láta         þeirs lifa eptir;
ferr in þingdjarfa         þjóð ór landi.
Býr blezaðr gramr         — sás brezkr jǫfurr —
skip sín á brott,         ok hann skjótla verðr
taliðr tírgǫfugr         í tolfta hǫll
sæll með sælum         settr guðs vinum.
 
‘‘Those who survive will abandon the land; the battle-daring people will go from the territory. A blessed king — he is the British leader — prepares his ships for departure and he will soon become reckoned glorious, seated in the twelfth hall, blessed among the blessed friends of God.
‘Svá tœmir láð         lýða bǫrnum,
— drífr hryggr heðan         herr ór landi —
at skógar þar         skjótla vaxa,
es ársamir         akrar vôru
fyrr með fyrðum         á fold Breta.
 
‘‘Thus the land will be emptied of the children of men [MANKIND] — the grieving people will stream from here out of the land — so that the forests will quickly grow there where previously among men there were fertile fields in the land of the Britons.
‘Þá mun inn hvíti         hjarlþvengr fara
snót saxneska         snarráðr laða.
Ok með miklum         mannfjǫlða kemr
fjarðbyggs Skǫgul         fold at byggja.
 
‘‘Then the white thong of the earth [SNAKE] will travel, with swift resolution, to invite the Saxon woman. And the Skǫgul <valkyrie> of fjord-barley [JEWEL (steinn ‘stone’) > WOMAN] will come with a great multitude of men to settle the land.
‘Mun sáð koma         sinni ǫðru
útlent yfir         óra garða.
En samt yfir         á svǫlum barmi
eylands þrumir         ormr inn rauði;
fær hann lítit         af landinu.
 
‘‘Foreign seed will come a second time over our precincts. And still the red snake remains on the cool fringe of the island; he will gain little from the land.

Þá kórónask         kapps hvítdreki,
ok saxneskir         seggir ríkja.
En eirjǫfurr         ofan at stíga
verðr af brǫttum         borgararmi.
 
‘Then the white serpent of belligerence will be crowned and Saxon men will rule. And the copper lord has to climb down from the sheer city wall.
‘Eru laufviðar         ljósum fjǫtri
takmǫrk gefin         í tali ára.
Munat hann ríkja         of in rǫmmu skǫp
né því inu fagra         fróni ráða.
 
‘‘Limits are set to the white fetter of the leafy tree [SNAKE] as to number of years. He will not govern the mighty fates nor rule that fair land.
‘Vera mun* ára         í aga miklum
fimtán tigi         foldar belti.
En tírœð         tíri gǫfgaðr
hundruð þrjú         hann mun sitja
Lundúnum at         ok lýða fjǫlð.
 
‘‘The belt of the earth [SNAKE] will be in great strife for fifteen decades. But for three hundred years, counted decimally, he will reign in London, endued with glory, and a multitude of people [with him].
‘Þá mun grimmum         ganga at móti
landnyrðingr hvass         lundar fjǫtri
ok blóma þá         á brott reka,
es vestrœnir         vindar grœddu.
 
‘‘Then a sharp northeast wind will come against the savage fetter of the grove [SNAKE], and drive away the flowers that the westerly winds fostered.
‘Mun gull glóa         guðs húsum á,
en lǫgðis veðr         lægir þeygi.
Mun trautt taka         tálsamr dreki
híð sín mega,         þvíat honum nálgask
víti fyr vélar,         þats hann verðr bera.
 
‘‘Gold will shine in God’s houses, but the storm of the sword [BATTLE] will not cease. The treacherous dragon will scarcely manage to reach its lairs, since retributions for its machinations will come upon it, that it will have to endure.
‘Fá mun hann uppgang         afarlitla stund;
hnekkir hônum         hringserkjat lið.
Kømr sunnan sú         sveit of ægi,
es hann ríki mun         ræna miklu.
 
‘‘He will obtain success for a very short time; the mail-shirted army will check him. That band will come from the south across the sea, which will rob him of his great kingdom.
‘Sá mun lofðungr,         es liði stýrir,
brátt brezkum her         byggva jarðir.
Mun sáð tekit         snáks ins hvíta
endr ór órum         aldingǫrðum.
 
‘‘The lord who leads the army will swiftly settle the lands with British people. The white snake’s seed will be taken once more out of our orchards.
‘Þá mun hann gjalda         grimmra ráða;
es hans tíundat         tálaukit kyn.
Verðr hann grœna         grund at vinna,
ok hann upp frá því         aldri ríkir.
Tekr hann svá fyr svik         sárar hefnðir.
 
‘‘Then he will pay for his savage actions; his treacherous kindred will be decimated. He will have to work the green earth and from that time onwards he will reign no more. Thus he will incur grievous retributions for his treachery.
‘Ríkir enn at þat         ormar tvennir;
missir annarr þar         aldrs fyr skeyti,
en annarr mun         aptr of hverfa
und skugga nafns         at skǫpum vinna.
 
‘‘After that two more snakes will rule; one will lose his life there to an arrow, but the other will return under the cover of a name to contend against the fates.
‘Þá mun ríkja         réttlætis dýr,
þats eyverskir         ormar hræðask.
Ok fyr sunnan sæ         sjalfir ugga
víz rammligir         valskir turnar.
 
‘‘Then the beast of justice will rule, which the island-dwelling serpents will dread. And south across the sea the French towers themselves, redoubtable on every side, will be fearful.
‘Þá mun gull snarat         af grasi mǫrgu;
flýtr ór klaufum         kalfs ættar silfr.
Eru fagrbúin         fljóð í landi;
verðrat snótum         siðbót at því.
 
‘‘Then gold will be wrung from many a herb; silver will flow from the hooves of the kindred of the calf [CATTLE]. There will be finely dressed women in the land; there will not be moral reform for the ladies on account of that.
‘Sprett es í miðju         mótpenningum;
mun gǫrst gleðu         glatask ránsemi.
Tennr munu gylðis         trausti numnar,
ok léons vargar         verða at fiskum
hvassir hvelpar         hvaltúnum í.
 
‘‘There will be a split down the middle of stamped pennies; the thieving ways of the kite will completely come to a stop. The wolf’s teeth will be deprived of their strength, and the lion’s wolves, keen cubs, will become fish in the whale-enclosures [SEA].
‘Verðr meinliga         mæki brugðit;
sék blóði ben         blása móður;
líðr mart hǫfugt         of lýða kyn.
Rýðr varðar blóð         Venedócíam,
ok síðan sex         snarpir lifra
kynsmenn drepa         Kórínéus.
 
‘‘The sword will be drawn with ill intent; I see the wound spurt with the mother’s blood. Much hardship will come over the race of men. The blood of the woman will redden Venedotia and then bold kinsmen of Corineus will slay six brothers.
‘Þá munu gumnar         gráta á nóttum
ok þjóð gera         þægjar bœnir.
Þá munu hǫlðar         til himins kosta;
fá it langa líf         lǫfðar nýtir.
 
‘‘Then men will weep at night and people will say acceptable prayers. Then men will strive after heaven; worthy men will obtain the long life.
‘Enn munu í skógi         skœðir síðan
vargar vakna         veiða í borgum.
Þeir munu sína         sjalfir dolga
fella eða fjǫtra;         fáir munu verða,
þeirs treystask þeim         telja at móti.
 
‘‘Then once more will vicious wolves awaken in the forest, hunt in the cities. They will themselves kill or shackle their foes; few will there be, who have confidence to complain against them.
‘Einn sitr nýtastr         Néústríe
Englandi at         auðar skelfir.
Þó ’ro siklingar         sunnan komnir
fimm eða fleiri         foldu at ráða.
 
‘‘The one worthiest shaker of riches [GENEROUS MAN] of Neustria will preside over England. Yet five kings or more have come from the south to rule the land.
‘Sá bjartar brýtr         borgir Íra
ok foldar til         fellir skóga.
Gerir ræsir eitt         ríki margra;
tekr léónis         lávarðr hǫfuð.
 
‘‘He will destroy the splendid cities of the Irish and fell the forests to the ground. The leader will create one kingdom out of many; the lord will take on the head of a lion.
‘Es í reiðingu         ráð þjóðkonungs
inn fyrra hlut         fylkis ævi.
En inn øfri aldr         auðvarpaðar
líkar helgum         himinstilli vel.
 
‘‘The behaviour of the mighty king will waver for the first part of the leader’s life. But the later life of the wealth-flinger [GENEROUS MAN] will please the holy ruler of heaven [= God] well.
‘Mun hann byskupa         borgum skrýða
ok helgan stað         hefja margan.
Tígnar borgir         tvær pallío;
gefr hann þýjum Krists         þægjar hnossir.
 
‘‘He will endue bishops with cities and elevate many a holy place. He will honour two cities with the pallium; he will give acceptable treasures to the servant-women of Christ.
‘Verðr af slíku         sverðéls hǫtuðr
himna ferðar         hugþekkr grami.
Ok at þetta líf         þingdjarfr konungr
taliðr es tyggja         tungls með englum.
 
‘‘The hater of the sword-storm [BATTLE > HOLY MAN] will be dear to the lord of the host of the heavens [ANGELS > = God] because of such [deeds]. And the king bold in encounters will be counted after this life with the angels of the lord of the moon [= God].
‘Glíkt mun gaupu         grams jóð vesa;
vill þat sinni þjóð         sjalfri steypa.
En af þeim sǫkum         þermlask bæði
Íra ok Engla         auðgrar jarðar
Néústría         ok numin tígnum.
 
‘‘The king’s son will resemble a lynx; it will wish to destroy its own people. And for those reasons Neustria will be stripped of the rich land of both the Irish and the English and deprived of honours.
‘En eptir þat         óðals á vit
fara fráliga         fyrðar brezkir.
Þó es illa áðr         ært í landi;
eru ósáttar         enskar þjóðir.
 
‘‘But the British people will go back swiftly after that to their ancestral land. Yet there has been a poor harvest previously in the land; the English peoples will be at odds with one another.
‘Ríðr inn prúði         til Peritónis ár
hvítum hesti         hvatr ǫldurmaðr.
Ok hvítum þar         hann markar staf
aldrœnn yfir         ô kvernar hús.
 
‘‘The splendid man, a bold lord, will ride a white horse to the river Periron. And there he, the aged [man], will mark out a mill-house above the river with a white staff.
‘Kalla mun Kónan         Káðvaládrus
ok skilfinga*         Skotlandi af.
Rýkr af grimmu         Gǫndlar éli;
verðr it mikla         malmþing háit.
 
‘‘Cadwallader will summon Conan and kings from Scotland. Smoke will rise from the savage storm of Gǫndul <valkyrie> [BATTLE]; the great metal-encounter [BATTLE] will be waged.
‘Svífr it hvassa         hagl tvíviðar
— hnígr hǫlða lið —         hart af strengjum.
En geyst hinig         gaflok fara;
megut Skǫglar ský         við skotum halda.
 
‘‘The cutting hail of the bow [ARROWS] flies hard from the strings; the troop of men sinks down. And javelins travel this way ferociously; the clouds of Skǫgul <valkyrie> [SHIELDS] cannot withstand the volleys.
‘Bresta brynjur,         bíta malmar,
eru dreyrfáið         dǫrr á lopti,
fleinn á flaugun,         folk í dreyra,
bíldr í benjum,         broddar á skildi,
hjalmr á hǫfði,         hlíf fyr brjósti,
geirr á gangi,         guðr í vexti.
 
‘‘Mail-shirts split, weapons bite; blood-stained darts are in the air, the spear in flight, the army in blood, the arrow in wounds, spear-points in the shield, the helmet on the head, the shield before the breast, the spear in motion, battle on the increase.
‘Hittisk targa         ok inn togni hjǫrr,
hjalmr ok hneitir,         hlíf ok ǫrvar,
brynja in brezka         ok brandr roðinn,
manns môttug hǫnd         ok meðalkafli,
hvítmýlingar         ok hǫlða brjóst.
 
‘‘Shield and the drawn sword meet, helmet and sword, shield and arrows, the British mail-shirt and red-stained sword, a man’s strong hand and a sword-grip, white-muzzled arrows and the breasts of men.
‘Hrapa hræva gǫr,         hátt gjalla spjǫr,
es malmþrima         mest á hjarli.
Verðr einn við einn         valkǫstr hlaðinn;
munu blóðgar ár         af bjǫðum falla,
en vígroða         verpr á hlýrni.
 
‘‘Heaps of corpses tumble, spears scream loudly, the weapon-tumult [BATTLE] is greatest on the earth. One pile of slain is built up beside another; bloody rivers will fall from the lands, and the redness of battle is cast up into heaven.
‘Falla fyrðar         í fleindrífu;
verðr enskri þjóð         aldrspell skipat.
Es vǫllr roðinn         en víg boðin;
hlýtr hôvan sigr         helmingr Breta.
 
‘‘Men will fall in the arrow-blizzard [BATTLE]; loss of life will be allotted for the English people. The field will be stained red and killing proffered; the forcè of Britons will win a great victory.
‘Yppir fjǫllum         fljótt Valbreta;
munu Brútus þau         bera kórónu.
Grœnask ǫflgar         eikr Kornbreta;
fagnar slíku         fús Kambría.
 
‘‘The mountains of French Britons will be swiftly raised up; they will bear the crown of Brutus. The mighty oaks of the Cornish Britons will grow green; eager Cambria rejoices at that.
‘Eyðisk eyjar         it enska nafn;
mun hon Anglía         eigi kǫlluð.
Hlýtr hon at halda         heiti inu forna;
kend es við Brútum         Brítannía.
 
‘‘The English name of the island is expunged; it will not be called Anglia. It gets to retain the old name; it is called Britain after Brutus.
‘Mun villigǫltr         vígdjarfr koma
ór kynstórri         Kónus ætt
sá vigra konr         Vallandi á.
Høggr yngva sonr         eikr ór skógi;
þó mun hilmir         hollr smáviði.
 
‘‘A wild boar, that scion of pigs, will issue, daring in combat, from the mighty lineage of Conan in France. The prince’s son hews down oaks from the forest; yet the ruler will be kindly to small trees.
‘Munu Rábítar         ræsi ugga
út í heimi         ok Affríkar.
Fǫr mun vísi         víðlendr gera
á it ýtra œgr         Ispáníam.
 
‘‘The Arabs and Africans will fear the leader out in the world. The awe-inspiring leader with extensive territories will make an expedition to Spain on its farther side.
‘Sitr ept hilmi         hafr at lǫndum;
hans esat skilja         skap frá vífni.
Berr hann á hǫfði         horn ór gulli;
es skegg skata         skapat ór silfri.
 
‘‘A he-goat will preside over the lands after the king; his temperament cannot be separated from desire for women. He will bear on his head horns of gold; the leader’s beard will be formed from silver.
‘Blæs Mistar vinr         ór nǫsum †tiossa†
þoku þvílíkri,         at þekr of ey.
Friðr es of fylkis         fastr lífdaga;
brestr eigi þá         ár í landi.
 
‘‘The friend of Mist <valkyrie> [WARRIOR] blows such a fog out of his nostrils … that it covers the island. Peace is fixed throughout the king’s lifetime; prosperity does not fail then in the land.
‘Þá munu á foldu         fǫgr víf draga;
blístrar meyjum         metnuðr í spor.
Munu kvensemi         kastra smíðuð;
svíkr gumna vin         girnð in ranga.
 
‘‘Then beautiful women will make their way on the ground: pride hisses in the maidens’ trail. Castles of desire for women will be built; the wrongful concupiscence betrays the friend of men [RULER].
‘Verðr at blóði         brunnr inn fagri;
þós á grundu         gnótt hvers konar.
En á holmi         hildingar tveir
berjask of brúði         bjarthaddaða;
sús í víðri         Vaðbatúli.
 
‘‘The fine spring turns to blood; yet there is every kind of bounty on the earth. And two leaders fight on an island over a bright-haired woman; she is in broad Vadum batuli.
‘Sjá þessi rǫk         þrennar aldir,
— þó es lýða ráð         ljótt fyr dróttni —
unz landrekar         Lundúnum í
grafnir ór grundu         gumnum vitrask.
 
‘‘Three ages witness these wonders — yet the conduct of men is odious before the Lord —, until kings disinterred from the ground in London are revealed to men.
‘Kømr árgalli         enn inn mikli
ok meinliga         manndauðr of her;
eyðask borgir         við bragna tjón.
Es nauðr mikil         nýtra manna;
flýr margr á brott         maðr ór landi.
 
‘‘Once more there will come a great failure of the harvest and mortality [with it], hurtfully over the people; cities will be devastated with the loss of men. There will be great adversity for valiant men; many a man will flee away from the land.
‘Kømr kaupskapar         kappgóðr þinig
villigalti         virðum samna,
þeims af fróni         flýðu áðan.
Lætr hann byggva þá         brezkar jarðir,
borgir eyddar,         ból góligust.
 
‘‘The wild boar of commerce, exceedingly good, will come there to gather men who had previously fled from the land. He causes them to settle the British lands, the devastated cities, the choicest estates.
‘Mun hans brjóst vesa         brǫgnum fœzla,
þeims fátt hafa         fjár með hǫndum.
Ok in tállausa         tunga hilmis
sløkkvir þorsta         þjóðans liði.
 
‘‘His breast will be sustenance for men who have little property at their disposal. And the ruler’s tongue, free of deception, will slake thirst for the following of the lord.
‘Falla ór orða         almærri vǫk
dynjandi ár         dróttar stýris.
Þær munu dǫggva         dýrar jarðir
geðs í glæstum         gollorheimi
ok þurrar kverkr         þjóðar margrar.
 
‘‘Resounding rivers will fall from the much-famed gap of words [MOUTH] of the ruler of the entourage [PRINCE]. They will spread dew on the beloved lands of the mind [HEARTS] in the splendid home of the pericardium [BREAST] and on the dry throats of many a people.
‘Upp renn síðan         — sék þat fyrir —
traust í turni         tré Lundúna;
þrír eru kvistir         þeim lundi á,
en hann laufi þekr         land með hringum.
 
‘‘A sturdy tree will shoot up then in the tower of London: I foresee that. There are three branches on that tree and with its foliage it completely shelters the land.
‘Kømr þar af lœgi         landnyrðingr hvass;
lýstr hann illum byl         einn af stofni.
Þar munu kvistir,         es þruma eptir,
þess rúm taka;         þat sék gǫrla.
 
‘‘A sharp northeast wind will come there from the sea; it will knock one [branch] from the trunk with a malevolent gust. The branches that remain afterwards will take up its space there; I see that clearly.
‘Hylja þeir alla         ey með laufi,
unz annarr þar         ǫðrum bœgir
ok eyðir hans         ǫllu laufi;
tekr hann þrjú rúm         þrekstórr hafa.
 
‘‘They will cover the entire island with foliage until one [branch] subdues the other there and destroys all its foliage; very vigorous it will commence to have the three places.
‘Ok hann síðan þekr         þykku laufi
einn of alla         eybarms fjǫru.
Megut þá fljúga         foglar í landi,
þvíat hann œgir þeim,         en hann enn til sín
laðar fogla fljótt         ferð útlendra.
 
‘‘And then it alone will cover with its dense foliage the entire foreshore of the island’s fringe. The birds within the land will then be unable to fly, because he will frighten them, but yet he will quickly entice a host of foreign birds to himself.
‘Þá mun illingar         asni ríkja;
sás fljótr taka         fé gullsmiða.
Es lofða vinr         latr at hefna
gylðis barna         gramr ránsemi.
 
‘‘Then will the ass of evil reign; he will be quick to take the property of goldsmiths. The fierce friend of men [RULER] will be slow to avenge the rapacity of the children of the wolf [WOLVES].
‘Ok á hans dǫgum         harðla brenna
ófs rammligar         eikr ór skógum.
Enn á lítlum         lindar kvistum
vex ǫrliga         akarn í lundi.
 
‘‘And in his days exceedingly mighty oaks from the forests will burn fiercely. Once more an acorn will grow rapidly on the slender twigs of the lime-tree in the grove.
‘Ok Ránar vegr         renn of ósa
Sábrínus sjau;         sék þat fyrir.
En Óskarô         — þat es undr mikit —
mun mánuðr sjau         môttug vella.
Gervisk fiskum         fjǫrtjón at því,
en ór sjǫlfum þeim         snákar verða.
 
‘‘And the path of Rán <sea-goddess> [SEA] will run through seven mouths of the Severn; I foresee that. And the river Usk will boil powerfully for seven months; that is a great marvel. Loss of life for the fish will come of that, and snakes will be engendered out of them.
‘Munu Bádónis         borgar verða
— líðr mart yfir —         laugar kaldar.
Ok hennar vǫtn         heilnæm firum
gera þá dauða         drjúgt mannkyni.
 
‘‘The baths of the city of Bath will become cold: many a thing will come to pass. And her waters, beneficial to men, will then cause deaths relentlessly for mankind.
‘Verðr tuttugu         tjón þúsunda
ljóna ferðar         Lundúnum í.
Þeir munu drengir         drepnir allir;
gerir karla tjón         Tems at blóði.
 
‘‘The loss of twenty thousand of the host of men will come to pass in London. Those men will all be slain; the loss of men will turn the Thames to blood.
‘Munu kapps mǫnnum         kvánfǫng boðin:
eru ekkjur þar         orðnar margar.
En á kǫldum         kall þeira næst
menn Mundíu         montum heyra.’
 
‘‘Marriages will be offered to men of bravery: many [women] have become widows there. But men will hear their cry afterwards on the cold mountains of the Alps.’
Hér munk létta         ljóð at semja
ok spásǫgu         spillis bauga.
Þó eru fleiri orð         ins fróða manns;
hefk sumt af þeim         samit í kvæði.
 
‘Here I will leave off composing the song and the prophetic tale of the destroyer of rings [GENEROUS MAN = Merlin]. Yet there are more words of the wise man; I have arranged some of them in a poem.
Þau eru ǫnnur ljóð         upp frá þessum;
†alvisk† eigi         auðs berdraugar
— biðk þjóðir þess —         við þenna brag,
þó at ek mynt hafa         mál at hætti,
þeims spár fyrir         spjǫllum rakði
malmþings hvǫtuðr,         í mǫrgum stað.
 
‘There are other songs following on from these; may bearing logs of wealth [MEN] not … with this poem — this I ask of people —, although I have formed my sayings in many a place after the style in which the whetter of the metal-meeting [BATTLE > WARRIOR = Merlin] recited prophecies in speeches.
Viti bragnar þat,         þeirs bók lesa,
hvé at spjǫllum sé         spámanns farit,
ok kynni þat         kjaldýrs viðum,
hverr fyrða sé         framsýnna hôttr
môl at rekja,          þaus menn vitut.
 
‘ May men, who read the book, know that, how the prophet’s sayings have been rendered, and teach that to trees of the keel-beast [SHIP > SEAFARERS], what the style of prophetic persons is in narrating matters that men do not know.
Lesi sálma, spjǫll         lesi spámanna,
lesi bjartar þeir         bœkr ok roðla,
ok finni þat,         at inn fróði halr
hefr horskliga         hagat spásǫgu,
sem fyr hônum         fyrðar helgir.
 
‘Let them read the psalms, read the sayings of the prophets, let them read bright books and rolls, and discover that the wise man has devised his prophecy sagaciously, like holy men before him.
Virði engi         þat vitlausu,
þótt hann hoddskǫtum         heiti gæfi
viðar eða vatna         eða veðrs mikils
eða alls konar         orma eða dýra.
Táknar eðli         talðrar skepnu
spjǫrráðanda        spjǫll eða kosti.
 
‘ Let nobody think it nonsense if he gives treasure-chieftains [RULERS] the name of a wood or lakes or a great storm or all kinds of serpents or beasts. The nature of the creature described signifies the flaws or strengths of the wielders of the spear [WARRIORS].
Segir Dáníel         drauma sína
margháttaða         merkjum studda.
Kvezk drjúglig sjá         dýr á jǫrðu,
þaus tôknuðu         tyggja ríki,
þaus á hauðri         hófusk síðan.
 
‘Daniel tells his diverse dreams, supported by miracles. He says that he sees mighty animals on earth that signified the realms of kings that later came into being on earth.
Rekr inn dýri         Dávíð konungr
margfalda spô,         ok mælir svá:
‘Fjǫll munu fagna         ok inn fríði skógr,
en skœðar ár         skella lófum,
ok dalir ymna         dróttni syngja.’
 
‘The noble King David utters manifold prophecy and speaks thus: ‘The mountains and the fair forest will rejoice, and dangerous rivers clap their hands and the valleys sing hymns to the Lord.’
Hirtisk hǫlðar         at hæða bœkr;
nemi skynsemi         ok skili gǫrla,
hvat táknat mun         í tǫlu þessi;
esat enn liðin         ǫll spásaga;
þó eru mǫrgum myrk         môl própheta.
 
‘Let men be chary of scorning books; let them learn wisdom and understand fully what is signified in this narration; the entire prophecy has not yet come to pass; yet the words of the prophets are obscure to many.
Frétti fyrðar,         þeirs á fold búa
enn at óra         ævi liðna,
hvat of her gerisk         ok huga leiði.
Beri in nýju spjǫll         við spásǫgu;
sé síðan þat,         hvé saman falli.
 
‘Let men who remain on earth after our lifetime has passed find out what becomes of men and pay heed. Let them compare the new tidings with the prophecy; then let them see how the two coincide.
Varð sú in enska         ætt fyr stundu
veldis missa;         nús valskr konungr.
Þós þeygi enn         þeira hætti
liðit af láði,         né lýðs Breta
hvǫssum mæki         hjarl eignaðisk.
 
‘The English people had to lose their dominion some time ago; now there is a French king. Yet their character has still in no way vanished from the land, neither has the land of the people of the British been taken over by the sharp sword.
Heilir allir,         þeirs hlýtt hafa,
fleinvarpaðir         frœði þessu.
Geri gótt gumar         en glati illu,
bíði bráða         bót afruna,
hafi hylli guðs         ok himinríki.
 
‘Hail all barb-throwers [WARRIORS] who have listened to this lore. Let men do good and shun evil, experience a speedy remedy for their errors, have the grace of God and the heavenly kingdom.
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