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Early Indo-European Texts

Old Norse

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old Norse with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old Norse Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old Norse language and its speakers' culture.

from the Njls saga

Skli Gunnars var grr af vii einum ok sakir tan, ok gluggar hj brnsunum ok snin ar fyrir speld. Gunnarr svaf lopti einu sklanum ok Hallgerr ok mir hans. er eir kmu at, vissu eir eigi hvrt Gunnarr myndi heim vera, ok bu at einnhverr myndi fara heim fyrir ok vita hvers vss yri, en eir settusk nir vllinn. orgrmr austmar gekk upp sklann; Gunnarr sr at rauan kyrtil bar vi glugginum, ok leggr t me atgeirinum hann mijan. orgrmi skruppu ftrnir ok var lauss skjldrinn, ok hratai hann ofan af ekjunni. Gengr hann san at eim Gizuri, ar er eir stu vellinum. Gizurr leit vi honum ok mlti, "Hvrt er Gunnarr heima?"
orgrmr svarar, "Viti r at, en hitt vissa ek, at atgeirr hans var heima." San fell hann nir daur.
eir sttu at hsinum. Gunnarr skaut t rum at eim ok varisk vel, ok gtu eir ekki at grt. hljpu sumir hsin ok tluu aan at skja. Gunnarr kom angat at eim runum, ok gtu eir ekki at grt, ok fr sv fram um hr. eir tku hvl ok sttu at annat sinn. Gunnarr skaut enn t, ok gtu eir ekki at grt ok hrukku fr annat sinn.
mlti Gizurr Hvti, "Skjum at betr, ekki verr af oss." Gru eir hr ina riju ok vru vi lengi; eptir at hrukku eir fr.
Gunnarr mlti, "r liggr ar ti vegginum, ok er s af eira rum, ok skal ek eiri skjta til eira, ok er eim at skmm, ef eir f geig at vpnum snum."
Mir hans mlti, "Gr eigi at, at vekir , er eir hafa r fr horfit."
Gunnarr reif rina ok skaut til eira, ok kom Eilf nundarson, ok fekk hann af sr mikit. Hann hafi stait einn saman, ok vissu eir eigi at hann var srr.
"Hnd kom ar t," segir Gizurr, "ok var gullhringr, ok tk r er l ekjunni, ok myndi eigi t leitat vifanga, ef gngt vri inni, ok skulu vr n skja at."
Mrr mlti, "Brennu vr hann inni."
"at skal vera aldri," segir Gizurr, " at ek vita at lf mitt liggi vi. Er r sjlfrtt at leggja til r au er dugi, sv slgr mar sem ert kallar."


Gunnar's hall was made with one beam and overlapping boards on the outside, and there were windows by the ridge-beams and shutters fastened in front of these. Gunnar slept in one loft of the hall, as well as Hallgertha and his mother. When they arrived, they did not know whether Gunnar would be at home, and they said that someone should go up to the house and find out for certain, while the others set themselves down on the ground. Thorgrim, a Norwegian, went up to the hall; Gunnar saw that he bore a red kirtle up to the window, and Gunnar shot out a spear at his midsection. Thorgrim's feet slipped and his shield came loose, and he tumbled down off the thatch. Then he went back to the rest, Gizur among them, where they sat on the ground. Gizur looked at him and said, "Is Gunnar home?"
Thorgrim answered, "You find out; but I discovered this: his spear was home." Then he fell dead.
Then they rushed at the house. Gunnar lashed out at them with arrows and defended himself well, and so they got nothing done. Then some lept upon the house and intended to attack from there. There Gunnar came at them with arrows, and again they got nothing done, and it went on like this for a while. They took a rest and then attacked a second time. Gunnar shot some more, and they got nothing done and so retreated a second time.
Then Gizur the Fair said, "Let's press harder -- nothing comes of us." Then they made a third attempt and were at it a while; after that they retreated.
Gunnar said, "An arrow is sitting out there on the wall, and it's one of their arrows; I'll shoot it at them, and it'll be a shame if they take a hit with their own weapons."
His mother said, "Don't do that, or you'll rouse them when they've already given up."
Gunnar snatched the arrow and shot at them, and it came at Eilif Onundarson, and he received a great wound. He had been standing alone, and they did not know that he was wounded.
"A hand came out", said Gizur, "and a gold ring was on it, and it took an arrow which was stuck in the thatch; it wouldn't seek supplies outside if there were enough inside -- so we should attack now."
Morth said, "Let's burn him inside."
"That won't ever happen", said Gizur, "since I know that my life will go with it. But you're free to come up with some plans that would work, as you're supposed to be a clever fellow."