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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 Battle of Stamford Bridge

Haraldr konongr Sighurarsun ri svrtum hesti blesttom firir framan fylking sna ok s hvrsu liit st, ok skipae im framar er villde hann. Ok esse ri fell hestrenn undir hanum oc konongrenn framm af, oc mllti, "Fall er farar hill." mllti Haraldr nghla konongr vir Normenn er me hanum vro, "Kenndo r enn hinn myckla mer im bl kyrtli oc hin faghra hialm, er er skaut sr af hestinum frem? eir svarao, "Kennom vr; et var Normanna konongr." mllti nghla konongr, "Mikill mar oc hfinghlegr er hann, oc hitt er n venna at farinn s at hamingiu."

N ra fram xx riddarar fyrir fylking Normanna oc allir albryniaer. mlti inn riddarenn, "Hvar er Tsti iarl, hvrt er hann lii ea ighi?" Hann svarae, "Eighi er v at lyna, hr munu r hann finna megha." mllti enn riddarenn: "Haraldr konongr brer yar sndi yr kviu oc er mer et, at r skulur hafa gri oc Norymbraland allt, oc nn vill hann, hlldr enn it briz, gefa yr riiung rkis sns mer sr." svarae iarlenn, "Boet er nccut annat enn frir oc svviringinn sem vetr, oc en etta vre fyrr boet, vre marghr mar s hill oc mer lfi er n er ighi, oc mun ighi verr standa rki Englanz. N takum vr enna kost; enn hvat vilir r n bia Haraldi kononge firir sitt starf?" svarae riddarenn: "Sact hfir hann er ncut af hvrs hann mun hanom unna af Englande, hann scal hafa vii fta lng -- oc v lngra, sem hann er hrre enn arir menn." svarae iarlenn, "Farit n oc sghit Haraldi kononge at hann biz til orrosto, firir v at annat skal sannaz enn et sem Normenn sghu at Tsti iarl munde svkia Harald konong oc skiliaz vir hann, eghar hann skulde briaz um, oc fylla flock findmanna hans, enn hldr skulum vr n taca allir itt r, dya hldr me smd ea f ngland me sighri."

N riu riddarar aftr. mlti Haralldr konongr Sighurarsun til iarlsens, "Hvr var essi hinn snialli mar?" svarae iarlenn, "er var Haraldr konongr Govinasun." mlti Haraldr konongr, "Oflngi var ec esso lyndr. eir vro sv comnir firir li vrt, at ighi munde esse Haraldr kunna sghia duaror vrra manna." "Satt er et, herra," saghe iarlinn, "varlegha fr vlcr hfingi oc vra mtti etta er n sghi r; sannum vr at, en hann vilde bia brr snum gri oc mikit valld, oc vri ec vst callar vrri hfingi, at enn cost t'kem vr, hldre enn ec biae sv lli at ec vre banamar bror mns; enn er btra at iggja bana af brr snum enn vita honom bana." "Ltil konongr var esse," saghe Haraldr konongr, "oc st vl stigrip sin." et sghia menn, at Haraldr konongr kve vsu essa:

"Fram gengom vr fylkingu,
        bryniulausir mer blr ggiar;
        hialmar skna, hfkaek mna;
        n liggr scr vrt at scipum niri."

Emma ht brynia hans; hon tc ofan mitt bin hanum, oc sv strk at cki festi vpn henne. mlti Haraldr konongr, "etta er illa ort, oc scal gra n ara vsu btri." oc cva etta:

"Kripum vr firir vpna
        (valtigs) brkon ighi
        (sv bau Hilldr) at hialdri
        (haldor) bugh skialdar;
        htt ba mec, er's mtozt,
        mennskur bera forom,
        lackar s oc husar,
        hialmstal gn malma."

N vita nglar Normnnum rei oc var mt virtaca hr, oc sv vro sttar ksiurnar oc koms et mest vir hestana.

Translation

King Harald Sigurtharson rode on a black horse with a white mark out before his troop and saw how the retinue was positioned, and he arranged them further forward, as he then wanted. And during this ride the horse fell beneath him, and the king from off it, and he said: 'A fall is a good sign for a journey.'
Then Harald, king of the Angles, spoke with the Norsemen who were with him: 'Do you know that noble man with the blue kirtle and impressive helmet, who launched himself off his horse?' They answered, 'We know him; that was the king of the Norsemen.' Then the king of the Angles said, 'He is a great and princely man, and it is likely that he has come to the end of his luck.'
Now 20 horsemen ride out before the host of the Norsemen and all are clad in mail. Then one horseman said, 'Where is earl Tosti -- is he in the troop or not?' He answered, 'It is not to be concealed that you might be able to find him here.' Then the horseman said, 'King Harald your brother would send you greetings and in addition to this, that you should have protection and the whole of Northumberland; and further he wishes, rather than you fight, to give you a third of his kingdom beside him.' The earl answered, 'Now there is a request for something other than the hostility and disgrace of last winter; but had that been sought before, then sound and with life would be many a man who now is not, and the kingdom of England might be none the worse for it. Now we have an alternative; but what would you now offer King Harald for his trouble?' Then the horseman answered, 'He said there something of how much of England he would grant him, he shall have a plot of 7 feet -- and longer by as much as he is taller than other men!' The earl responded, 'Go now and tell King Harald that he should ready himself for battle, since something else will prove true than that which the Norsemen said, that Earl Tosti would betray King Harald and part with him, he would fight at once, and increase the number of his enemies; but rather we all will now adopt a single purpose, to die with honor, or to take England in victory.'
The horsemen rode back. Then King Harald Sigurtharson said to the earl, 'Who was that eloquent man?' The earl answered, 'That was King Harald Gothvinason.' King Harald said, 'Too long was I ignorant of this. They came before our troop so that this Harald might not be permitted to pronounce our men's death-tidings.' 'That is true, lord', said the earl, 'the chief proceeded quite incautiously and that which you say might be true; we agree on this, but though he wanted to offer his brother peace and great power, I would certainly be called a worse leader rather if we should take the offer and I might have awaited such old age that I be my brother's killer; for it is better to accept death from your brother than to grant death to him.' 'That one was a small king,' said King Harald, 'and stood well in his stirrups.' Men say that King Harald recited this verse:
    'We went forth in the ranks,
    byrnie-less, with blue edges;
    helmets shine, I have not mine;
    my coat lies on the ship below.'
His byrnie was called Emma; it went all the way down to the middle of his leg, and was so strong that no weapon had any effect on it. Then King Harald said, 'That was poorly composed, so I shall now devise another better verse', and then recited this:
    'We do not creep in battle,
    before the clashing of weapons,
    behind the curve of the shield --
    so commanded the lady of the hawk's land, true of speech;
    the lady bade me, where meet
    skulls and the ice of battle,
    long ago to carry on high
    the helmet's seat into the clash of metal.'
Now the Angles give the Norsemen a charge and a harsh reception comes in return, and so the long spears were set and it hit hard against the horses.