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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hrókskviða — Hróksv HrkvVIII (Hálf)

Hrókr inn svarti

Hrókr inn svarti, Hrókskviða — Hubert Seelow

Not published: do not cite (Hróksv HrkvVIII (Hálf))

 

Nú mun segja         sonr Hámundar,
hvert eðli var         okkart bræðra.
Var minn faðir         miklu fremri,
haukr görr at hug,         en Haki yðvarr.
 
‘Now the son of Hámundr [= Hrókr inn svarti] will tell, what the parentage of us two brothers was. My father was a real hawk in regard to courage, much superior to your Haki.
Vildi engi         við Vifil jafnaz,
þó at Hámundar         hjarðar gætti.
Sá ek öngan þar         svínahirði
huglausara         en Heðins arfa.
 
‘No one would want to compare himself with Vifill, even though he tended Hámundr’s livestock. There I did not see any swineherd more faint-hearted than the heir of Heðinn [= Vifill].
Mín var ævi         miklu æðri,
þá er vér Hálfi konungi         hoskum fylgðum.
Bárum allir         eitt ráð saman
ok herjuðum         hvert land yfir.
 
‘My life was much superior, when we followed prudent king Hálfr. We all pursued the same strategy and harried throughout every land.
Höfðu vér allir         haukmanna lið,
hvar sem fróðhugaðr         frama kostaði.
Gengum vér í gegnum         með grá hjálma
fullstór öll         fóstrlönd níu.
 
‘We all had a host of hawk-like men, wherever the wise-minded one tried his luck. We went with grey helmets through all nine vast homelands.
Hálf sá ek höggva         höndum báðum;
hafði ekki hilmir         hlífskjöld fyrir sér.
Finnr engi maðr,         þóat fari víða,
hæfra hjarta         ok hugprúðara.
 
‘I saw Hálfr strike with both hands; the prince did not have a protecting shield before himself. No man will find a braver and nobler heart, though he travel widely.
Mæla virðar,         þeir er vitu ekki,
at Hálfs frami         heimsku sætti.
Kann ekki sá         konung háleyskan,
er heimsku þrótt         honum eignaði.
 
‘Those men, who do not know, say that Hálfr’s courage amounted to foolishness. He does not know the king from Hålogaland, who ascribed the valour of foolishness to him.
Bað hann ekki við dauða         drengi kvíða,
né æðruorð         ekki mæla.
Engi skyldi         jöfri fylgja,
nema forlögum         fylkis heldi.
 
‘He bade the young warriors not to be apprehensive of death, nor to utter any word of fear. No one was to follow the prince, unless he shared the leader’s fate.
Skyldi ekki stynja,         þó at stór hlyti
sár í sóknum,         siklings vinir,
né benjar sér         binda láta,
fyrr en annars dags         jafnlengð kæmi.
 
‘The friends of the king should not moan, even if they received great wounds in combat, nor have their wounds dressed, before the same time of the following day arrived.
Bað ekki hann í her         höptu* græta,
né manns konu         mein at vinna.
Mey bað hann hverja         mundi kaupa,
fögru gulli,         at föður ráði.
 
‘He forbade [men] to make a female captive in the army weep nor to do harm to a man’s wife. He ordered every girl to be bought for a bride-price, for fine gold, with the consent of her father.
Váru ekki svá margir         menn á skeiðum,
at vér á flótta         fyrri* heldim,
þó at miklu lið         minna hefðim,
svá at ellifu         einum gegndi.
 
‘There were not so many men on the warships that we would take to flight earlier, although we had a much smaller host, so that eleven encountered one.
Höfðum vér allir         inn efra hlut,
hvar sem Hildar …         hlífar knúði.
Einn vissa ek         jafnsnjallan gram,
Sigurð konung         at sölum Gjúka.
 
‘We all had the better share wherever … of Hildr [BATTLE?] struck shields. I knew only one prince to have been equally valiant, King Sigurðr at Gjúki’s halls.
Margir váru         menn á skeiðum
góðir ok fræknir         með gram sjálfum:
Börkr ok Brynjólfr,         Bölverkr ok Haki,
Egill ok Erlingr,         Ásláks synir.
 
‘Many good and brave men were on the warships with the prince himself: Bǫrkr ok Brynjólfr, Bǫlverkr and Haki, Egill and Erlingr, sons of Áslákr.
Mest váru mér         manna hugðir
Hrókr, bróðir minn,         ok Hálfr konungr,
Styrr ok Steinar,         sterkir báðir,
snarráðir menn,         synir Gunnlaðar.
 
‘Most friendly of [all] men towards me were Hrókr, my brother, and King Hálfr, Styrr and [the two] Steinar, both strong, resolute men, the sons of Gunnlǫð.
Hringr ok Hálfdan,         haukar báðir,
réttir dómendr,         * Dagr inn prúði,
Stari ok Steingrímr,         Styrr ok Gauti;
finnr þú aldri         fríðari drengi.
 
‘Hringr and Hálfdan, both hawks, just judges, Dagr inn prúði (‘the Courageous’), Stari and Steingrímr, Styrr and Gauti; you will never find finer lads.
Valr ok Haukr         í víkingu,
báðir fræknir         buðlungs vinir.
Fáir mundu þeim         fylkis rekkum
hæfir þykkja         ór Hakaveldi.
 
‘Valr and Haukr on a viking expedition, both valiant friends of the king. Few from Haki’s realm would seem to match these champions of the prince.
Hvergi þótti ek         í því liði
opt aukvisi         ættar minnar.
Mik kváðu þeir         mann snarpastan,
þvíat hverr öðrum         hróðrs leitaði.
 
‘I was by no means often thought to be a degenerate [member] of my family in that troop. They called me the most dashing man, for each sought for praise for the other.
Vá bar Vémundr,         er vega þorði,
— Björn ok Bersi —         fyrir buðlungi.
Fylkði sínu         sá framligast
lofðungr liði,         meðan lifa mátti.
 
‘Vémundr, who dared to fight, endured danger for the prince [and so did] Bjǫrn and Bersi. That king drew up his troops most excellently, as long as he lived.
Naut ekki svá         aldrs, sem skyldi,
frækn landreki         við frama dáðir.
Tólf vetra nam         tiggi at herja,
en þá var þengill         þrítugr, er dó.
 
‘The valiant land-ruler did not enjoy as long a life as he should have done with deeds of fame. The prince started harrying at the age of twelve and the king was thirty when he died.
Slíkt kennir mér         at sofa lítit
marga grímu         ok mjök vaka:
er bróðir minn         brenna skyldi
kvikr í eldi         með konungs rekkum.
 
‘This causes me to sleep little many a night and wake much: that my brother should burn alive in the fire with the king’s champions.
Sá hefir dagr um mik         daprastr komit
miklu í heimi,         svá at menn vitu.
*Una þykkjumz vér         aldri síðan,
at fylgja máttuma         frændum hollum.
 
‘That day has come upon me, the very saddest in the world, as far as men know. We [I] think that we [I] shall never be happy again that we were [I was] not able to follow [my] loyal kinsmen.
Alls mundi mér         angrs léttara,
ef ek Hálfs konungs         hefna mættak,
svá at Ásmundi         eggfránum hjör,
bana baugbrjóts,         brjóst rauf*aðak.
 
‘I would be eased of all grief, if I could avenge King Hálfr, so that I would pierce the breast of Ásmundr, slayer of the ring-breaker [GENEROUS RULER = Hálfr], with a sharp-edged sword.
Hefnt mun verða         Hálfs ins frækna,
því at þeir göfgan gram         í griðum véltu.
Olli morði         ok mannskaða
Ásmundr konungr         illu heilli.
 
‘Hálfr the valiant will be avenged, for they betrayed the noble king in a time of truce. Through an evil fate, King Ásmundr caused murder and loss of life.
Þá mun reyna         ok raun gefa,
ef vit Sveinn komum         saman í rómu,
hvárir í vígi         verða hæfri,
Hámundar burr         eða Haka þegnar.
 
‘Then it will be experienced and put to the test, if Sveinn and I clash in battle, who will prove to be more courageous in fighting, the son of Hámundr [= Hrókr inn svarti] or Haki’s men.
Segi ek svá kveðit         snotru vífi,
at ek Brynhildar         biðja mundak,
ef vita þættumz,         at vildi hon
Hróki unna,         Hámundar bur.
 
‘Thus I make known to the wise woman that I would ask for the hand of Brynhildr, if I thought that she could love Hrókr, son of Hámundr.
Ván væri mér         vitra manna,
snarpra seggja,         ef vér saman ættum,
því at ek fann ekki mey         margsvinnari
hvergi landa         en Haka dóttur.
 
‘I would expect wise people, smart men, if we had offspring together, for I did not find a more intelligent girl in any country than the daughter of Haki [= Brynhildr].
Fann ek aldri         — þó hefik farit víða —
hugþekkri mey         en Haka dóttur.
Hon er at öllu,         sem ek æskja mun.
 
‘I have never found a more endearing girl than the daughter of Haki [= Brynhildr], yet I have travelled widely. She is in every respect as I could wish.
Hér þykki ek nú         í Hakaveldi
hornungr vera         hverrar þjóðar.
Allir eigu         innar at sitja
hálfargir menn         en Hálfsrekkar.
 
‘I now seem to be an outcast amongst all people here in Haki’s realm. All half-cowardly men are entitled to sit futher inwards than Hálfr’s champions.
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