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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 Egils saga

Þá segir Arinbjǫrn, "Ef þú, konungr, ok þit Gunnhildr hafið þat einráðit, at Egill skal hér enga sætt fá, þá er þat drengskapr, at gefa honum frest ok fararleyfi um viku sakar, at hann forði sér, þó hefir hann at sjálfvilja sínum farit hingat á fund yðvarn, ok vænti sér at því friðar. Fara þá enn skipti yður, sem verða má þaðan frá."

Gunnhildr mælti: "Sjá kann ek á þessu, Arinbjǫrn, at þú ert hollari Agli en Eiríki konungi. Ef Egill skal ríða heðan viku í brott í friði, þá mun hann kominn til Aðalsteins konungs á þessi stundu. En Eiríkr konungr þarf nú ekki at dyljask í því, at honum verða nú allir konungar ofreflismenn, en fyrir skǫmmu mundi þat ekki glíkligt, at Eiríkr konungr mundi eigi hafa til þess vilja ok atferð, at hefna harma sinna á hverjum manni slíkum sem Egill er."

Arinbjǫrn segir, "Engi maðr mun Eirík kalla at meira mann, þó at hann drepi einn bóndason útlendan, þann er gengit hefir á vald hans. En ef hann vill miklask at þessu, þá skal ek þat veita honum, at þessi tíðindi skulu heldr þykkja frásagnarverð, því at vit Egill munum nú veitask at, svá at jafnsnimma skal okkr mœta báðum. Muntu, konungr, þá dýrt kaupa líf Egils, um þat er vér erum allir at velli lagðir, ek ok sveitungar mínir; mundi mik annars vara at yðr, en þú mundir mik vilja leggja heldr at jǫrðu en láta mik þiggja líf eins manns er ek bið."

Þá segir konungr, "Allmikit kapp leggr þú á þetta, Arinbjǫrn, at veita Agli lið. Trauðr mun ek til vera, at gøra þér skaða, ef því er at skipta, ef þú vill heldr leggja fram líf þitt en hann sé drepinn. En œrnar eru sakar til við Egil, hvat sem ek læt gøra við hann."

Ok er konungr hafði þetta mælt, þá gekk Egill fyrir hann ok hóf upp kvæðit ok kvað hátt ok fekk þegar hljóð:

Vestr fórk of ver, en ek Viðris ber
        munstrandar mar, svás mitt of far;
        drók eik á flot við ísabrot,
        hlóðk mærðar hlut munknarrar skut.

Buðumk hilmi lǫð ák hróðrs of kvǫð,
        berk Óðins mjǫð á Engla bjǫð.
        Lofat vísa vann, víst mærik þann,
        hljóðs biðjum hann, þvít hróðr of fann.

Hygg vísi at, vel sómir þat,
        hvé þylja fet, ef þǫgn of get.
        Flestr maðr of frá hvat fylkir vá,
        en Viðrir sá hvar valr of lá.

Óx hjǫrva hlǫm við hlífar þrǫm,
        guðr óx of gram, gramr sótti fram:
        þar heyrðisk þá, þaut mækis á,
        malmhríðar spá, sús mest of lá.

Translation

Then Arinbjorn says, 'If you, king, and you Gunnhild have decided that Egil should get no settlement here, then nobility demands giving him respite and leave to depart for a week, so that he save himself, since he has travelled here of his own accord to meet you, and should on this account expect peaceful intentions toward himself. Your dealings go the same way as it might turn out later.
Gunnhild said, 'I can see this, Arinbjorn, that you are more loyal to Egil than to King Eirik. If Egil should ride from here for a week in peace, then he might reach King Athalstan in that time. King Eirik need not deceive himself in this, that now all the kings have become more powerful than him; yet a short time ago that would not have been likely, that King Eirik should not have the desire or energy for this, to avenge his grievances on each man such as Egil is.'
Arinbjorn said, 'No man would call Eirik a greater man if he should kill a foreign farmer's son, who has come under his control. But if he wants to acquire fame from this, then I should assist him in this, so that these events will seem more worth telling, by the fact that Egil and I will now help each other, so that he shall deal equally with us both. You might, king, pay dearly for Egil's life, when we are all laid low, I and my followers; I would have expected different from you, than that you would be more willing to lay me on the ground than let me receive the life of one man which I request.'
Then the king says, 'You take great pains in this, Arinbjorn, to give Egil assistance. Reluctant might I be to do you harm, if it comes to that, if you would rather set aside your life than that he be killed. But there are sufficient causes against Egil, whatever I order to be done with him.'
And as the king had said that, Egil went before him and took up his poem and spoke loud and commanded silence:
Westward I rode out over the sea, and I bear the sea
of Odin's breast, as was my condition;
I dragged the oak afloat during the ice-breaking,
I loaded my mind's hold with a cargo of praise.
I offered myself to the king with hospitality, I have the duty of praise,
I bear Odin's mead to the lands of the Angles.
I have accomplished the prince's praise, certainly I should praise him,
I ask him for audience, since I have composed his praise.
Consider this, king, well would you do,
how I start to recite, if I obtain silence.
Many a man has heard what fights the king has fought,
and Odin saw where the slain lay.
The din grew of swords against the shield's rim,
the battle waxed round the king, the king pressed onward:
there was heard the prophecy of the metal-storm,
the sword's stream flowed, where it lay strongest.
[N.B. . In the end, Egil's poem wins him his life.]