Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Continue

skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Skaufhala bálkr — Svart SkaufVIII

Svartr á Hofstöðum

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.

 

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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.’
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.’
‘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.
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.’
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.
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.
Close

Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.

Close

Information about a text: poem, sequence of stanzas, or prose work

This page is used for different resources. For groups of stanzas such as poems, you will see the verse text and, where published, the translation of each stanza. These are also links to information about the individual stanzas.

For prose works you will see a list of the stanzas and fragments in that prose work, where relevant, providing links to the individual stanzas.

Where you have access to introduction(s) to the poem or prose work in the database, these will appear in the ‘introduction’ section.

The final section, ‘sources’ is a list of the manuscripts that contain the prose work, as well as manuscripts and prose works linked to stanzas and sections of a text.