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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eiríksdrápa — Mark EirdrII

Markús Skeggjason

Jayne Carroll 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Markús Skeggjason, Eiríksdrápa’ 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. 432-60.

 

Harra kveðk at hróðrgjǫrð dýrri
hauklundaðan Dana grundar.
 
‘I summon the hawk-minded lord of the land of the Danes [= Nikulás Sveinsson] to a choice work of praise.
Eireks lof verðr ǫld at heyra;
engi maðr veit fremra þengil
— yngvi helt við orðstír langan
jǫfra sess — í verǫld þessi.
 
‘People must hear Eiríkr’s praise; no man knows a better ruler in this world; the king held the seat of princes with long-lasting glory.
Fœðir sótti fremðarráða
foldar vǫrðu austr í Garða;
auði gœddu allvald prúðan
ítrir menn, þeirs hnøggvi slíta.
Stillir varð of austrveg allan
einkar tíðr inn mærðarblíði;
hinn vas engr, es hans nafn kunnit
heiðarmanns í lofi reiða.
 
‘The nourisher of outstanding actions [RULER] visited the guardians of the earth [RULERS] east in Russia; glorious men, who destroy stinginess, endowed the magnificent mighty ruler with wealth. The praise-pleased prince came to be very popular throughout all the eastern regions; there was no person who was not able to proclaim his name, the man of honour’s, in praise.
Vár ǫndurt bjó Vinða rýrir
veglig flaust ór Gǫrðum austan;
hlýrum skaut á hola bôru
helmings oddr í sumars broddi.
Hlýðu studdi borðvið breiðan
bróðir Knúts í veðri óðu;
síðan knátti svikfolks eyðir
snilli kenndr við Danmǫrk lenda.
 
‘At the onset of spring the vanquisher of the Wends [= Eiríkr] prepared noble ships [to travel] from the east out of Russia; at the beginning of summer the leader of the unit [WARRIOR] launched the bows onto the curving billow. The brother of Knútr [= Eiríkr] protected the broad plank-wood with a washboard in the turbulent weather; the destroyer of treacherous people [JUST RULER], skilled in eloquence, then put to shore in Denmark.
Drengir þôgu auð af yngva;
ǫrr fylkir gaf sverð ok knǫrru;
Eirekr veitti opt ok stórum
armleggjar rǫf dýrðarseggjum.
Hringum eyddi harra sløngvir
hildarramr, en stillir framði
fyrða kyn, svát flestir urðu,
Fróða stóls, af hônum góðir.
 
‘The warriors received wealth from the king; the generous leader gave swords and merchantships; Eiríkr granted glorious men often and freely the amber of the arm [GOLD]. The battle-mighty disperser of lords [RULER] destroyed rings, and the controller of Fróði’s seat [= Denmark > = Eiríkr] advanced the kin of men, so that most became wealthy through him.
Vǫrgum eyddi Vinða fergir;
víking hepti konungr fíkjum;
þjófa hendr lét þengill stýfa;
þegnum kunni ósið hegna.
Aldri frásk, at Eirekr vildi
allréttligum dómi halla;
hôla kunni sér til sælu
sigrs valdari guðs lǫg halda.
 
‘The vanquisher of the Wends [= Eiríkr] destroyed outlaws; the king put an end to piracy fiercely; the prince caused thieves’ hands to be struck off; he knew how to punish men for wrong behaviour. Never was it heard said, that Eiríkr wished to sway the right judgement; the wielder of victory [WARRIOR] knew well to observe the laws of God for his well-being.
Hróðigr átti brynþings beiðir
bjartan auð ok frœknligt hjarta
minni gnógt ok manvit annat
mest; fylgðu því hvergi lestir.
Alla hafði ǫðlingr snilli;
ungr nam hann á margar tungur;
Eirekr vas, sás mátti meira,
mestr ofrhugi, jǫfri flestum.
 
‘The famed convenor of the byrnie-meeting [BATTLE > WARRIOR] had bright wealth and a brave heart, abundant memory and other common sense to the highest degree; flaws did not accompany that. The ruler had absolute eloquence; when young he learned many languages; Eiríkr, who could do more than most princes, was the most courageous.
Lýst skal hitt, es lofðungr fýstisk
langan veg til Róms at ganga
— fylkir sá þar friðland balkat
Fenneyjar hlið — dýrð at nenna.
 
‘It shall be brought to light, that the leader desired to walk the long way to Rome to engage in glory; the ruler saw there the protected secured land, the gates of Venice.
Bróðir gekk í Bôr út síðan
— bragningr vildi guðdóm magna —
(hylli guðs mun hlífa stilli)
hǫfuðskjǫldunga fimm (at gjǫldum).
 
‘The brother of five principal kings [= Eiríkr] then walked out to Bari; the ruler wanted to strengthen God’s dominion; the grace of God will in return protect the prince.
Stóra sótti Haralds hlýri
helga dóma út frá Rómi;
hringum varði áttkonr yngva
auðig skrín ok golli rauðu.
Mildingr fór of munka veldi
móðum fœti sôl at bœta;
sveitir kníði allvaldr útan;
Eirekr vas til Róms í þeiri.
 
‘Haraldr’s brother [= Eiríkr] visited great holy relics outside Rome; the descendant of a king [KING] adorned rich shrines with rings and red gold. The generous one went on weary foot through the monks’ empire to redeem his soul; the mighty ruler urged his men back; Eiríkr came to Rome on that [journey].
Eirekr náði útan fœra
erkistól of Saxa merki;
hljótum vér, þats hag várn bœtir,
hingat norðr at skjǫldungs orðum.
 
‘Eiríkr was able to bring back from abroad an archbishopric over the border of the Saxons; we receive here in the north according to the king’s bidding that which improves our [spiritual] situation.
Eyðisk hitt, at jafnstórt ráði
annarr gramr til þyrftar mǫnnum;
leyfði allt, sem konungr krafði,
Krists unnanda páfi sunnan.
 
‘It will not happen that another prince shall achieve so much for the need of men; the Pope from the south granted the devotee of Christ [= Eiríkr] all that the king requested.
Veldi þorðut Vinðr at halda,
— villa gerðisk þeim at illu —
— sunnan kom þá svikdómsmanna
sáttarof — þats buðlungr átti.
 
‘The Wends had not dared to retain control of the realm which the ruler possessed; error turned to misery for them; then came [news of] the truce-breaking of the treacherous men from the south.
Yngvi helt í óðastrǫngum
ǫldugangi skipum þangat;
hlýða skalf, en hristi grœðir
hélug bǫrð fyr Vinða gǫrðum.
 
‘The king steered his ships there in the furiously turbulent motion of the waves; the washboard trembled, and the ocean shook the frosted prows offshore from the settlements of the Wends.
Rǫndu lauk of rekka kindir
risnumaðr, svát hver tók aðra;
hamalt — knôttu þá hlífar glymja —
hildingr fylkði liði miklu.
 
‘The doughty man enclosed the descendants of champions with the shield, so that each linked with the next; the prince marshalled his great troop in a wedge-shaped formation; then the shields began to resound.
Styrjǫld óx of stilli ǫrvan;
stengr bôru framm vísa drengir;
mildingr gekk at miklum hjaldri
malmi skrýddr ok faldinn hjalmi.
 
‘Battle increased around the generous ruler; the leader’s warriors carried the standard-poles forward; the generous one advanced, dressed in metal and clad in a helmet, to the great tumult.
Hǫrga varðisk herr í borgum;
hjaldrganga vas snǫruð þangat;
harðir kníðusk menn at morði;
merki blés of hilmi sterkan.
Eirekr vakði odda skúrir;
eggjar týndu lífi seggja;
sungu jǫrn, en sœfðusk drengir;
sveiti fell á valkǫst heitan.
 
‘The host of heathen temples [HEATHENS = Wends] defended itself in the strongholds; the battle-advance was quickly turned thither; fierce men pressed forward at the slaughter; the banner blew around the strong prince. Eiríkr stirred up showers of arrow-points [BATTLE]; blades destroyed the lives of men; weapons sang, and warriors died; blood fell on the hot carrion-heap.
Blóði dreif á randgarð rauðan;
rógs hegnir drap ótal þegna;
framði sik, þars folkvôpn glumðu,
fylkir ungr, en brynjur sprungu.
 
‘Blood splattered onto the red shield-wall; the punisher of discord [JUST RULER] killed an untold number of men; the young ruler distinguished himself where battle-weapons resounded and mail-coats sprang apart.
Heiðinn vildi herr of síðir
hǫmlu vígs ór porti gǫmlu;
urðu þeir, es virki vǫrðu
vangi næst, á hǫnd at ganga.
 
‘The heathen host of the staff of battle [SPEAR] wished [to escape] at last from the old stronghold; those who defended the fort nearest the plain had to submit.
Heiðin vôru hjǫrtu lýða
hryggðarfull í Vinða byggðum;
eldi sveif of ótal haulda;
Eirekr brenndi sali þeira.
Eisur kyndusk hôtt í húsum;
hallir nôðu vítt at falla;
óttu leið, en uppi þótti
elris grand í himni standa.
 
‘The heathen hearts of people were sorrowful in the settlements of the Wends; fire swept around an untold number of freeholders; Eiríkr burned their halls. Flames were kindled high in the houses; halls fell far and wide; night passed, and the harmer of the alder-tree [FIRE] seemed to stretch up into heaven.
Eirekr vas með uppreist hôri;
undan flýðu Vinðr af stundu;
gjǫld festu þá grimmir hauldar;
gumnar urðu sigri numnir.
Yngvi talði erfðir þangat;
alþýða varð stilli hlýða;
veldi réð því ástvinr aldar
einart; lá þat fyrr und Sveini.
 
‘Eiríkr had great success; the Wends fled from there without delay; fierce freeholders then pledged tribute; men were deprived of victory. The king declared his inheritance rights there; all the people had to obey the prince; the beloved friend of people [RULER] ruled that realm continuously; that lay previously under Sveinn.
Flaustum lukði folka treystir
foldar síðu brimi kníða;
ǫrr vísi bað oddum læsa
úrga strǫnd ok svalri rǫndu.
Hlífum keyrði hersa reifir
harða nýtr of land it ýtra;
hilmir lauk við hergang olman
hauðr Eydana skjaldborg rauðri.
 
‘The trier of men [RULER] barricaded the wave-lashed edge of the land with ships; the generous leader commanded the wet shore to be sealed with spear-points and a chilly shield. The very bountiful gladdener of hersar [RULER] drove shields around the outer land; the prince shut off the earth of the Island-Danes with a red shield-wall during the furious onslaught.
Víða setti vísdóms grœðir
virki skrýddar hǫfuðkirkjur;
gørva lét þar hollvinr herjar
hrein musteri fimm af steini.
Vôru þau með tryggðar tíri
tíða flaust, es gramr lét smíða
bǫðvar snjallr ok beztr at ǫllu,
borði merkð, fyr Saxland norðan.
 
‘The nourisher of wisdom [JUST RULER] established far and wide principal churches adorned with artwork; the loyal friend of the people [JUST RULER] had five shining minsters built from stone there. Those ships of services [CHURCHES], which the king, skilled in warfare and best in everything, caused to be crafted with the fame of security north of Saxony, were adorned with wood.
Blíðan gœddi bjǫrtum auði
Bjarnar hlýra Frakklands stýrir;
stórar lét sér randgarðs rýrir
ríks keisara gjafir líka.
Hônum lét til hervígs búna
harra spjalli láðmenn snjalla
alla leið, áðr ǫðlingr næði
Jóta grundar Césars fundi.
 
‘The ruler of France [= Philip I] endowed the pleasant brother of Bjǫrn [= Eiríkr] with bright wealth; the diminisher of the shield-wall [WARRIOR] found himself pleased with the great gifts of the powerful emperor [= Henry IV]. The companion of lords [RULER = Henry IV] gave him brave guides, ready for battle, all the way, before the noble leader of the land of the Jótar [= Denmark > = Eiríkr] was able to meet Caesar.
Dróttinn lét í Danmǫrk settan,
dǫglings grundar, skammt frá Lundi
erkistól, þanns ǫll þjóð dýrkar,
eljunþungr, á danska tungu.
Hildingr framði heilagt veldi;
hvargegnan má Ǫzur fregna
— hônum vísar haulda reynir
himna stíg — til byskups vígðan.
 
‘The energetic lord had an archbishopric established in Denmark a short way from Lund, which all the people of the ruler’s land worship in the Danish tongue. The prince advanced the holy kingdom; one can hear that the very capable Ǫzurr was ordained bishop; the trier of freeholders [= God] shows him the path to the heavens.
Lýst skal hitt, es læknask fýstisk
liðhraustr konungr sôr in iðri;
norðan fór með helming harðan
hersa mœðir sôl at grœða.
Harri bjósk til heims ins dýrra;
hann gerði fǫr út at kanna
— buðlungr vildi bjart líf ǫðlask —
byggð Jórsala friði tryggða.
 
‘It shall be made clear, that the troop-bold king was eager to cure his inner wounds; the troubler of hersar [RULER = Eiríkr] travelled from the north with a fierce unit to heal his soul. The lord prepared himself for the better world; he made his way out to explore the settlement of Jerusalem, secured with peace; the prince wished to gain a glorious life.
Bôru menn ór borgum stórum
bleyðiskjarrs á móti harra
— sungit vas, þás herr tók hringja —
hnossum gǫfguð skrín ok krossa.
Aldri fær í annars veldi
jǫfra ríkir metnað slíkan;
eitt vas sér, þats jafnask mátti
engi maðr við Dana þengil.
 
‘Men carried reliquaries, decorated with precious ornaments, and crosses out of great towns towards the cowardice-shy lord; there was singing, when men began to ring. A ruler of princes [KING] will never receive such honour in the realm of another [ruler]; unique it was, that no man could equal the prince of the Danes [= Eiríkr].
Hildingr þá við hæst lof aldar
hǫfgan auð í gulli rauðu
halfa lest af harra sjǫlfum
harða vitr í Miklagarði.
Áðan tók við allvalds klæðum
Eirekr; þó vas gefit fleira;
reynir veitti herskip hônum
hersa máttar sex ok átta.
 
‘The very wise ruler received along with the highest praise of men weighty wealth in red gold, half a lest, from the lord himself in Constantinople. Previously Eiríkr accepted the clothes of the mighty ruler; yet even more was given; the trier of the might of hersar [RULER = Byzantine emperor] granted him six and eight warships.
Andar krafði út í lǫndum
alls stýrandi konung snjallan;
elli beiðat ofvægr stillir;
aldar stríð es fregit víða.
Síðan harma siklings dauða
snjallir menn of heimsbyggð alla;
drúpir herr at dolga steypi
dyggvan; þat tér verǫld hryggva.
 
‘The commander of all [= God] claimed the spirit from the wise king out in [far-off] lands; the powerful prince did not wait for old age; the grief of men is heard of far and wide. Afterwards wise men all over the inhabited world lament the death of the sovereign; people bow down in grief for the virtuous destroyer of enemies [JUST RULER]; that saddens the world.
Hvergi stóðusk hjǫrva borgar
hristimeiðar konungs reiði;
raunar varðat rǫnd við hônum
reist; gerðut þess jǫfrar freista.
Ógnir stóðu af jarla hegni;
engi þorði kapp at strengja
— flestir uggðu foldvǫrð hraustan —
fylkir snarr við Dana harra.
 
‘The brandishing-trees of the stronghold of swords [SHIELD > WARRIORS] withstood not at all the rage of the king; in truth a shield was not raised against him; princes did not attempt this. Terrors were inspired by the punisher of jarls [KING]; not one keen leader dared to test his strength against the lord of the Danes [= Eiríkr]; most feared the brave land-guardian.
Ræsir lét af roðnum hausi
Rínar sól á marfjǫll skína.
 
‘The king made the sun of the Rhine <river> [GOLD] shine from the reddened skull onto the sea-mountains [WAVES].
Fjarri hefr at fœðisk dýrri
flotna vǫrðr á élkers botni
— hôva leyfir hverr maðr ævi
hringvarpaðar — gjalfri kringðum.
 
‘It is unlikely that a more precious guardian of sea-warriors [RULER] might be born on the surge-encircled bottom of the storm-vessel [SKY/HEAVEN > EARTH]; each person praises the noble life of the ring-thrower [GENEROUS RULER].
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