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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 Njáls saga

Skáli Gunnars var gǫrr af viði einum ok súðþakiðr útan, ok gluggar hjá brúnásunum ok snúin þar fyrir speld. Gunnarr svaf í lopti einu í skálanum ok Hallgerðr ok móðir hans. Þá er þeir kómu at, vissu þeir eigi hvárt Gunnarr myndi heim vera, ok báðu at einnhverr myndi fara heim fyrir ok vita hvers víss yrði, en þeir settusk niðr á vǫllinn. Þorgrímr austmaðr gekk upp á skálann; Gunnarr sér at rauðan kyrtil bar við glugginum, ok leggr út með atgeirinum á hann miðjan. Þorgrími skruppu fœtrnir ok varð lauss skjǫldrinn, ok hrataði hann ofan af þekjunni. Gengr hann síðan at þeim Gizuri, þar er þeir sátu á vellinum. Gizurr leit við honum ok mælti, "Hvárt er Gunnarr heima?"
Þorgrímr svarar, "Viti þér þat, en hitt vissa ek, at atgeirr hans var heima." Síðan fell hann niðr dauðr.
Þeir sóttu þá at húsinum. Gunnarr skaut út ǫrum at þeim ok varðisk vel, ok gátu þeir ekki at gǫrt. Þá hljópu sumir á húsin ok ætluðu þaðan at sœkja. Gunnarr kom þangat at þeim ǫrunum, ok gátu þeir ekki at gǫrt, ok fór svá fram um hríð. Þeir tóku hvílð ok sóttu at í annat sinn. Gunnarr skaut enn út, ok gátu þeir ekki at gǫrt ok hrukku frá í annat sinn.
Þá mælti Gizurr Hvíti, "Sœkjum at betr, ekki verðr af oss." Gørðu þeir þá hríð ina þriðju ok váru við lengi; eptir þat hrukku þeir frá.
Gunnarr mælti, "Ǫr liggr þar úti á vegginum, ok er sú af þeira ǫrum, ok skal ek þeiri skjóta til þeira, ok er þeim þat skǫmm, ef þeir fá geig at vápnum sínum."
Móðir hans mælti, "Gør þú eigi þat, at þú vekir þá, er þeir hafa áðr frá horfit."
Gunnarr þreif ǫrina ok skaut til þeira, ok kom á Eilíf Ǫnundarson, ok fekk hann af sár mikit. Hann hafði staðit einn saman, ok vissu þeir eigi at hann var særðr.
"Hǫnd kom þar út," segir Gizurr, "ok var á gullhringr, ok tók ǫr er lá á þekjunni, ok myndi eigi út leitat viðfanga, ef gnógt væri inni, ok skulu vér nú sœkja at."
Mǫrðr mælti, "Brennu vér hann inni."
"Þat skal verða aldri," segir Gizurr, "þó at ek vita at líf mitt liggi við. Er þér sjálfrátt at leggja til ráð þau er dugi, svá slœgr maðr sem þú ert kallaðr."

Translation

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."