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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr — Gísl MagnkvII

Gísl Illugason

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Gísl Illugason, Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr’ 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. 416-30.

 

Ungr framði sik,        þars alendr vildu
lofsælan gram        landi ræna
Imðar faxa,        en jǫfurr sótti
Báleygs viðu        með blôum hjǫrvi.
 
‘The young one excelled where the nourishers of Imð’s <troll-woman’s> steed [WOLF > WARRIORS] wished to rob the praise-blessed lord of his land, and the prince attacked Báleygr’s <= Óðinn’s> trees [WARRIORS] with the dark sword.
Ýtti ór Ósló        til Egils fundar
lofðungr liði        lands at krefja.
Fylgðu ræsi        ok Rygir sunnan
linns láðgefendr        ór lǫgum tvennum.
 
‘The lord led his troop from Oslo to the meeting with Egill to reclaim his land. Dispensers of the snake’s land [(lit. ‘land-dispensers of the snake’) GOLD > GENEROUS MEN] from two law-districts and the Rygir accompanied the ruler from the south.
Séa knátti þá        siklings flota
vel vígligan        ok vanan sigri,
es fyr Yrjar        í aga miklum
óþrotligt lið        árar kníði.
 
‘Then one could see the sovereign’s fleet, well war-equipped and accustomed to victory, when the indefatigable crew smote the oars off Ørland in heavy seas.
Átti hilmir        húsþing við sæ;
þat vas fyr innan        Ǫrvahamra.
Bjósk at brenna,        en búendr flýðu,
stórráðr konungr,        af Staði útan.
 
‘The ruler convened an assembly by the sea; that was on the inner side of Ǫrvahamrar. The imperious king prepared to burn, and farmers fled out from Stadsbygd.
Hyrr sveimaði;        hallir þurru;
gekk hár logi        of herǫð þeira.
Séa knátti þar,        es salir fellu,
landrôð konungs,        of liði Þóris.
 
‘Fire surged; halls collapsed; the high flame swept across their herǫð. There one could see the king’s government as dwellings fell around Þórir’s troop.
Raufsk við róstu        — rymr varð í her —
helmingr Egils        við Hlaðir útan.
Môttut hersar        við Haða dróttni
láðgǫfguðum        landi ráða.
 
‘Egill’s unit scattered in the tumult out by Lade; a roar resounded throughout the army. The hersar could not hold the country against the land-endowed lord of the Haðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús].
Sættisk síðan        — siðr batnaði —
hugfullr konungr        við hatendr sína.
Þann gaf brǫgnum,        es búendr ôttu,
rétt, ráðspakir        rœkðum launa.
 
‘The very courageous king then reconciled himself with his enemies; conduct improved. He gave people those privileges, which the sensible farmers were to repay with solicitude.
Gramr vann gǫrvan,        en glatat þjófum,
kaupmǫnnum frið,        þanns konungr bœtti,
svát í elfi        øxum hlýddi
flaust fagrbúin        í fjǫru skorða.
 
‘The ruler achieved complete peace for merchants, which the king had improved, and he destroyed thieves, so that in the river one could buttress the splendidly equipped ships with axes on the shore.
Tók á Skíði,        en Skotar flýðu,
jǫfra œgir        Ívistar gram.
Hafði fylkir,        sás frami téði,
Lǫgmann konung        í liði sínu.
 
‘The terrifier of princes [RULER = Magnús] captured the lord of North Uist [= Lǫgmaðr] in Skye, and the Scots fled. The leader, whom courage aided, kept King Lǫgmaðr in his company.
Ættlǫndum vann        eyja dróttar
folkvǫrðr und sik        fjórum þrungit,
áðr an hitti,        sás hamalt fylkði,
veðrsmiðr Viðurs        valska jarla.
 
‘The people’s guardian [RULER] subjugated four ancestral territories of the men of the isles, before the smith of Viðurr’s <= Óðinn’s> wind [(lit. ‘Viðurr’s wind-smith’) BATTLE > WARRIOR], who marshalled his troops in a wedge-shaped array, met the Norman earls.
Hôðum hildi        með Haralds frænda
Ǫnguls við ey        innanverða,
þars af reiði        ríkisvendir
konungr ok jarlar        kapp sitt brutu.
 
‘We waged war with Haraldr’s kinsman [= Magnús] on the inner side of Anglesey, where the royal sceptres, the king and the earls, tested their courage with rage.
Margan hǫfðu        Magnúss liðar
bjǫrtum oddi        baugvang skorit.
Varð hertoga        hlíf at springa
kapps vel skipuð        fyr konungs darri.
 
‘Magnús’s companions had cut many a ring-meadow [SHIELD] with the bright spear-point. The shield of the army-leader, magnificently equipped, was forced to shatter by the king’s spear.
Bǫðkennir skaut        bôðum hǫndum;
allr vá hilmis        herr prúðliga.
Stukku af almi,        þeims jǫfurr sveigði,
hvítmýlingar,        áðr Hugi felli.
 
‘The battle-teacher [WARRIOR] shot with both hands; all the lord’s army fought splendidly. White-muzzled arrows flew from the elm-bow which the king bent, before Hugh fell.
Hǫfðu seggir        — þá vas sókn lokit —
heimfǫr þegit        at hǫfuðsmanni.
Landsmenn litu        of liði gǫfgu
segl sædrifin        sett við húna.
 
‘The men had obtained leave from the leader to return home; then the battle had ended. The countrymen saw foam-sprayed sails, secured to the mast-tops, above the splendid troop.
Vágr þrútnaði,        en vefi keyrði
steinóðr á stag        storðar galli.
Braut dýrr dreki        und Dana skelfi
hrygg í hverri        hafs glymbrúði.
 
‘The sea swelled, and the raging destruction of the sapling [STORM] drove the sails against the stays. The precious dragon beneath the terrifier of the Danes [= Magnús] broke the back in every roaring-bride of the ocean [WAVE].
Blár ægir skaut        búnum svíra;
gjalfr hljóp í gin        gollnu hǫfði.
Skein af hausum        sem himins eisa
dǫglings dreka        djúps valfasti.
 
‘The dark ocean struck against the adorned neck; the surge leaped into the jaws of the golden head. The corpse-flame [SWORD (brandr ‘fire’)] of the deep [GOLD] shone like the cinder of heaven [SUN] from the skulls of the ruler’s dragon.
Framðisk síðan        á Svía dróttni
austr við Elfi        Upplanda gramr.
Liðskelfir tók        ór lǫgum Gauta
fimtán herǫð        fránni eggju.
 
‘The ruler of Opplandene [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús] then distinguished himself against the lord of the Svíar [SWEDISH RULER = Ingi] east by the Götaälv. The troop-terrifier [WARRIOR] took fifteen herǫð from the law-districts of the Gautar with the sharp sword-edge.
Reið folkhvǫtuðr        fyrst í gǫgnum
sǫmnuð Svía        sigri hnugginn.
Malmr dreyrugr varð        á meðal hlaupa
hauss ok herða        hans andskota.
 
‘The fight-inciter [WARRIOR] rode first through the ranks of the Svíar, deprived of victory. The bloody iron must leap between the skull and shoulders of his enemies.
Hol merki blés,        en Huginn gladdisk
fránn, of hǫfði        feðr Sigurðar.
Þann sák fylki        með frama mestum
snǫrpu sverði        til sigrs vega.
 
‘The billowing banners blew above the head of Sigurðr’s father [= Magnús] and gleaming Huginn <raven> rejoiced. I saw that leader fighting for victory with the sharp sword with the greatest glory.
Fylgðak frœknum,        sem framast kunnak,
Eysteins fǫður        í Atals drífu.
Opt brák hjǫrvi        með Haralds frænda
vanr vásfǫrum,        þars vega þurfti.
 
‘I followed the bold father of Eysteinn [= Magnús] in Atall’s <sea-king’s> snow-storm [BATTLE] as best I could. Often I, accustomed to hard journeys, brandished the sword with Haraldr’s kinsman [= Magnús], where one needed to fight.
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