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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Valg Har 11II/4 — ógurlig ‘the terrifying’

Lauðr vas lagt í beðja;
lék sollit haf golli,
enn herskipum hrannir
hǫfuð ógurlig þógu.
Ræðr, en ræsir œðri
rístr aldri sæ kaldan,
— sveit tér sínum dróttni
snjǫll — Nóregi ǫllum.

Lauðr vas lagt í beðja; sollit haf lék golli, enn hrannir þógu ógurlig hǫfuð herskipum. Ræðr ǫllum Nóregi, en œðri ræsir rístr aldri kaldan sæ; snjǫll sveit tér dróttni sínum.

Foam was folded into layers; the swollen sea played with gold, and waves washed the terrifying heads of the warships. You rule all Norway, and a nobler regent will never carve the cold sea; the valiant company support their lord.


[4] þógu ógurlig hǫfuð ‘washed the terrifying heads’: See Note to st. 10/5 above. Landnámabók (Ldn, ÍF 1, 313), contains an instructive section on the terror that these heads could inspire: Þat var upphaf hinna heiðnu laga, at menn skyldi eigi hafa hǫfuðskip í haf, en ef þeir hefði, þá skyldi þeir af taka hǫfuð, áðr þeir kœmi í landsýn, ok sigla eigi at landi með gapandi hǫfðum eða gínandi trjónum, svá at landvættir fælisk við ‘That was the opening [section] of the pagan laws, that people must not have ships with heads when setting out to sea. But if they did, then they must take off the heads before they sighted land and not sail toward land with gaping heads or yawning mouths, so that the guardian spirits of the land would be frightened’.



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