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skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Víkarsbálkr — StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr)

Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson

Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr — Margaret Clunies Ross

Not published: do not cite (StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr))

 

Þá var ek ungr,         er inni brann
frækna fjölð         með feðr …
þjóðnær vági         fyr Þrumu innan.
 
‘I was young then, when a crowd of bold men burnt inside with … father very near the bay inside of Tromøy.
Herr tapaðiz         Haralds ins egðska
ok menbrota         mágar véltu,
Fjöri ok Fýri,         Freka arfþegar,
Unnar bræðr         eiðu minnar.
 
‘The army of Haraldr inn egðski (‘from Agder’) perished and the kinsmen, Fjǫri and Fýri, heirs of Freki, brothers of my mother Unnr, betrayed the necklace-breaker [GENEROUS MAN = Stórvirkr].
Þá * Herþjófr         Harald um vélti;
sér ójafnan         sveik í trygðum,
Egða dróttin         öndu rænti,
en hans sonum         haptbönd sneri.
 
‘Then Herþjófr tricked Haraldr; he betrayed [a man] unequal to himself in his plighted oath, robbed the lord of the Egðir [= Haraldr] of life and twisted captive shackles for his sons.
Þrévetran mik         þaðan af flutti
Hrosshárs-Grani         til Hörðalands.
Nam ek á Aski         upp at vaxa;
sákat niðja         á níu vetrum.
 
‘Hrosshárs-Grani (‘Horse-hair Grani’) carried me off from there at the age of three years to Hordaland. I grew up at Ask; I did not see my kinsmen for nine winters.
Afl gat ek ærit,         uxu tjálgur,
langir leggir         ok ljótt höfuð.
En hímaldi         af hugsi sat,
fás forvitinn         í fleti niðri.
 
‘I gained plenty of strength, my branches grew, long legs and ugly head. But I was a layabout lost in thought, curious about little down on the hall-floor.
Unz Víkarr kom         frá vita innan,
gísl Herþjófs,         gekk inn í sal.
Hann kendi mik,         hann kvaddi mik
upp at standa         ok andsvara.
 
‘Until Víkarr, the hostage of Herþjófr, came from inside the beacon, went into the hall. He recognised me, he called on me to get up and answer.
Hann mældi mik         mundum ok spönnum,
alla arma         til úlfliða,
        …,
vaxit hári         á höku niðri.
 
‘He measured me with hands and hand-breadths, all my arms to the wrists … grown with hair down on my chin.
Þá safnaði         Sørkvi ok Gretti,
Haralds arfþegi         Hildigrími,
Erp ok Úlfi,         Áni ok Skúmi,
Hróa ok Hrotta,         Herbrands syni,
 
‘Haraldr’s heir [= Víkarr] then gathered Sørkvir and Grettir, Hildigrímr, Erpr and Úlfr, Án and Skúmr, Hrói and Hrotti, son of Herbrandr,
Styr ok Steinþóri         frá Staði norðan;
þar var inn gamli         Gunnólfr blesi.
Þá váru vér         þrettán saman;
fær varliga         fríðri drengi.
 
‘Styrr and Steinþórr from north of Stadlandet; the old Gunnólfr blesi (‘Blaze’) was there. We were then thirteen together; finer fellows are scarcely to be had.
Svá kómu vér         til konungs garða;
hristum grindr,         hjuggum gætti,
brutum borglokur,         brugðum sverðum,
þar er sjautigir         seggir stóðu,
kostum góðir,         fyr konungi.
Þó var um aukit         öllum þrælum,
verkalýðum         ok vatndrögum.
 
‘Thus we came to the king’s courts; we shook the gates, we hewed the door-frames, we broke the fortress-locks, we drew our swords, where seventy warriors of good quality stood before the king. Beside that, the number was increased with all slaves, workpeople and water-bearers.
Var Víkari         vant at fylgja,
þvíat fremstr ok fyrstr         í flokki stóð.
Hjuggum hjálma         með höfuðgnípum,
brynjur sníddum         ok brutum skjöldu.
 
‘It was difficult to follow Víkarr, because he stood foremost and first in the troop. We hewed helmets with head-peaks, we cut mail-coats and broke shields.
Var Víkari         vegs um auðit,
en Herþjófi         heiptir goldnar.
Særðum seggi         en suma drápum;
stóðkat ek fjarri,         þá er fell konungr.
 
‘Honour was ordained for Víkarr and hostilities repaid to Herþjófr. We wounded men and killed some; I was standing not far away when the king fell.
Vart þú eigi         með Víkari
austr í Væni         árdag snemma,
þá er sóttu vér         Sísar á velli;
þat var þrekvirki         þokks megnara.
 
‘You were not with Víkarr east on Vänern early in the day, when we attacked Sísarr on the [battle-]field; that was a still more powerful feat of strength.
Mik lét sverði         hann sárum höggvinn
skarpeggjuðu         skjöld í gegnum,
hjálm af höfði         en haus skorat
ok kinnkjálka         klofinn í jaxla
en it vinstra         viðbein látit.
 
‘He caused me to be struck with wounds with a sharp-edged sword right through my shield, [he caused] the helmet [to be struck] from my head, and my skull broken, and my jawbone cloven to the molars, and my left collar-bone to be shattered.
Ok á síðu         sverði beitti
mér öflugr         fyr mjöðm ofan,
en í aðra         atgeir lagði
köldum broddi,         svá at á kafi yddi;
þau sér merki         á mér gróin.
 
‘And the powerful one thrust his sword into my side above one hip and plunged his halberd into the other with its cold point, so that it penetrated right through [me]; those scars are visible healed on me.
Sneidda ek honum         síðu aðra
bitrum brandi         um búk þveran.
Svá ek af heiptum         hjörvi beittak,
at alls megins         áðr kostaðak.
 
‘I sliced off one side of him with my sharp blade right across the body. Thus I wielded my sword with such fury that I had already expended all my strength.
Lét þreksamr         þriðja sinni
Hildar leik         háðan verða,
áðr Upplönd         unnin yrði
ok Geirþjófr         um gefinn helju.
 
‘The powerful one had the play of Hildr <valkyrie> [BATTLE] held for a third time before Opplandene could be won and Geirþjófr given over to death.
Átti sér         erfivörðu
tírsamr tvá         tyggi alna.
Hét hans son         Haraldr inn ellri;
setti þann         at Þelamörku.
 
‘The fame-desiring ruler had two heirs born to him. The elder son of his was called Haraldr; he placed that one over Telemark.
Var sínkgjarn         sagðr af gulli
Neri jarl,         nýtr í ráðum,
Víkars sonr         vanr í sóknum;
sá réð einn         Upplendingum.
 
‘Jarl Neri was said to be covetous of gold, capable in counsels, Víkarr’s son, accustomed to fight; he ruled alone over the Upplendingar.
Réð Friðþjófr         fyrst at senda
heiptarboð         horskum jöfri,
hvárt Víkarr         vildi gjalda
hilmi skatt         eða her þola.
 
‘Friðþjófr first sent a message of hostility to the wise prince, [enquiring] whether Víkarr wanted to pay tribute to the ruler or suffer his army.
Réðum um         … lengi;
urðum vit         ekki dælir.
Þat kaus herr,         at konungr skyldi
ríkr með her         rómu knýja.
 
‘We debated … long; we were not easy to deal with. The army chose that the powerful king should press on with the battle with his troop.
Réð Óláfr         austr inn skygni,
sældargramr,         fyr Svíaríki.
Hann bauð út         almenningi;
mikill var hans         helmingr talinn.
 
‘Óláfr inn skygni (‘the Sharp-sighted’) ruled in the east, the prosperous ruler, over the kingdom of the Swedes. He ordered the conscripted army out; his division was reckoned great.
Gengum fram         í glam vápna,
konungsmenn         kappi gnægðir.
Þar var Úlfr         ok Erpr lítinn;
hjó ek brynjulauss         báðum höndum.
 
‘We advanced in the clash of weapons, the king’s men endowed with vigour. Úlfr was there and Erpr lítinn (‘the Small’); I hewed without a mail-coat with both hands.
Réð Friðþjófr         friðar at biðja,
þvíat Víkarr         vægði ekki,
ok Starkaðr         Stórverksson
almátt fram         allan lagði.
 
‘Friðþjófr had to sue for peace because Víkarr did not yield and Starkaðr Stórverksson exerted all his mighty strength.
Mér gaf Víkarr         valamálm,
hring inn rauða,         er ek á hendi ber,
mér þrímerking,         en ek Þrumu honum;
fylgða ek fylki         fimtán sumur.
 
‘Víkarr gave me costly metal, the red [gold] ring, which I wear on my arm, [a ring] three marks in weight for me, and I [gave] him Tromøy; I followed the ruler for fifteen summers.
Fylgða ek fylki,         þeim er framast vissak,
— þá unða ek bezt         ævi minni —
áðr fór †ór†         — en því flögð ollu —
hinzta sinni         til Hörðalands.
 
‘I followed the ruler, the one I knew [to be] most distinguished — then I enjoyed my life the best — before I went … for the last time to Hordaland; but demons caused that.
Þess eyrendis,         at mér Þórr um skóp
níðings nafn,         nauð margskonar;
hlaut ek óhróðingr         ilt at vinna.
 
‘With this result, that Þórr shaped for me the name of traitor, distress of many kinds; inglorious, I was fated to perform evil deeds.
Skylda ek Víkar         í viði hávum,
Geirþjófs bana,         goðum um signa.
Lagða ek geiri         gram til hjarta;
þat er mér hermast         handaverka.
 
‘I was obliged to dedicate Víkarr, the slayer of Geirþjófr, to the gods on the high tree. I thrust with the spear to the ruler’s heart; that is for me the most regrettable of the deeds of my hands.
Þaðan vappaðak         viltar brautir,
Hörðum leiðr,         með huga illan,
hringa vanr         ok hróðrkvæða,
dróttinlauss,         dapr alls hugar.
 
‘From there I wandered bewildering ways, hateful to the Hǫrðar, with a dark mind, lacking in rings and poems of praise, lordless, depressed in my whole mind.
Nú sótta ek         til Svíþjóðar,
Ynglinga sjöt,         til Uppsala.
Hér láta mik,         sem ek lengi mun,
þöglan þul,         þjóðans synir.
 
‘I now sought the residence of the Ynglingar, [made my way] to Sweden, to Uppsala. The prince’s sons allow me [to stay] here [as] a silent poet, as I shall [be] for a long time.
Hér settu mik         sveina milli,
heldr hæðinna         ok hvítbránna.
Skelkja skatnar         ok skaup draga,
ófs óframir,         at jöfurs greppi.
 
‘Here they set me between serving men, rather mocking and white-eyelashed. The fellows mock and, exceedingly cautious, hold the prince’s poet up to ridicule.
Sjá þykkjaz þeir         á sjálfum mér
jötunkuml         átta handa,
er Hlórriði         fyr hamar norðan
Hergríms bana         höndum rænti.
 
‘They think they can see the giant-marks of the eight arms on myself where Hlórriði <= Þórr> tore off the arms of Hergrímr’s slayer [= Starkaðr] north of the crag.
Hlæja rekkar,         er mik sjá,
ljótan skolt,         langa trjónu,
hangar tjálgur,         hár úlfgrátt,
hrjúfan háls,         húð jótraða.
 
‘Men who see me laugh at [my] ugly snout, long muzzle, dangling branches, wolf-grey hair, scabby neck, scarred skin.
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