The Battle of Svlder

Adam of Bremen stated that Olaf Tryggvason’s wife Thyri who is of Danish origin, urged her husband to declare war on Denmark. It was not until Tryggvason learned of the alliance between Svein Forkbeard King of Denmark and Olaf Eiriksson King of Sweden, Tryggvason decided it was time to wage war. Both the Historia Norwegie and grip have similar accounts of the event.

Thyri was the sister of Svein Forkbeard, when Tryggvason married her Forkbeard refused to pay the dowry promised with her. Angered by this Olaf decided to attack the southern land of Denmark. Being impatient Tryggvason set sail with only 11 ships instead of a full fleet from all over Norway, he expected the rest of the Norwegian fleet to follow as they were summoned. Realizing that this hope was gone Tryggvason set sail to Wendland (Pomerania which today forms a region of the Baltic between northern Poland and northern Germany on the south Baltic coast) in search of allies against Denmark. However Tryggvason was attacked by Forkbeard, Eiriksson and Eirik Hkonarson, Jarl of Lade before he reached his destination. This is however contradicted by Halldrr kristni, a Norse skald who was in the court of Jarl Eirik Hkonarson; said Tryggvason came from the south before entering the battle, this would mean Tryggvason had indeed reached Wendland.

Fjr kom heldr haran,
hnitu reyr saman dreyra,
tungl skrusk tingla
tangar, Ormr enn langi,
s bormikinn Bara
brynflags reginn lagi
(jarl vann hjalms at holmi
hr) vi Ffnis su.

A year since, the Long Serpent
suffered a harsh trial.
Blood-reeds2 beat each other;
battered were moons of ship's prow3,
when the god of the armour-
ogre4 laid high-sided
Bari5 the jarl did battle
by the isle—at side of Ffnir.6

Eirksflokkr 3, Finnur Jnsson's edition1 Finlay's translation7

1 Finnur Jnsson (1912-15). Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. Kbenhavn: Den arnamagnanske kommission.
2 A kenning for "sword".
3 A kenning for "shield".
4 Armour-ogre[ss] is a kenning for "axe". The "god of the axe" is a kenning for "warrior".
5 According to the sagas the ship of Earl Eirkr was called Bari.
6 Ffnir is a dragon; here the Long Serpent is intended.
7 Finlay 2004, p. 124

It is the 12th century Icelandic Benedictine monk at the ingeyrar monastery named Oddr Snorrason who gives an elaborate account of the troubles the marriage to Thyri gave to Olaf Tryggvason. To complicate this marriage Thyri was betrothed to King Boleslaw the Brave; a Wendish king who received a large dowry for her. Thyri did not want to be the wife of King Boleslaw, after their wedding she starved herself to near death so Boleslaw sent her back to Denmark. When back in Denmark Thyri arranged a marriage to Tryggvason, upon her success she brought displeasure to her brother Svein, the King of Denmark. Svein’s wife and Queen Sigrid the Haughty was a strong opponent of Olaf Tryggvason and urged Svein to make war on Tryggvason. With the urging of Sigrid, Svein conspired with Eirik Hkonarson the Jarl of Lade and King Olaf of Sweden to entrap Tryggvason. As Tryggvason traveled south to Wendland with the intention of getting Thyri’s dowry from King Boleslaw, he had heard of rumors of a planned ambush; it is Jarl Sigvaldi who arrives to assure Tryggvason that the rumors are false. Tryggvason believing Sigvaldi sent most of his fleet back to Norway and his men grew impatient.

Sigvaldi succeeded Palnatoke as the chieftain of the Jomsvikings, he however was more wise than he was brave as he demonstrated on numerous occasions. To win his wife Astrid, the daughter of a Wendish chieftain named Burislav, Sigvaldi promised to free the Wends of tributes they paid to the Danes. Sailing to Zealand Sigvaldi sent a message to Svein Forkbeard King of Denmark, that he had important dealings but had fallen ill and could not come in person. Svein being curious went onboard Sigvaldi’s ship where the trap was sprung and Svein found himself being held a prisoner. In order for Svein to get his freedom he was forced to free the Wends of tribute and to give independence to both the Jomsvikings and the Wends and to pay a king’s ransom. Sigvaldi participated in the Danish invasion force against Haakon Sigurdsson where Sigvaldi fled in disgrace.

With only a small portion of the fleet Tryggvason set sail where he was ambushed by Svolder. The Heimskringla says that Jarl Sigvaldi also set sail with Olaf Tryggvason with a fleet of Wendish ships and lead Tryggvason in to the waiting ambush, when the ambush trap was sprung both Sigvaldi and the Wends left Olaf Tryggvason.

Other factors that compounded an alliance against Olaf Tryggvason, outside of the marriage to Thyri, Tryggvason had taken control of southern Norway an area known as Viken. Viken had long been under Danish control. When raiding both Svein and Tryggvason were in England at the same time; it was Tryggvason who converted after a seer in one of the Scilly Isles had prophesized his future:

“Thou wilt become a renowned king, and do celebrated deeds. Many men wilt thou bring to faith and baptism, and both to thy own and others' good; and that thou mayst have no doubt of the truth of this answer, listen to these tokens. When thou comest to thy ships many of thy people will conspire against thee, and then a battle will follow in which many of thy men will fall, and thou wilt be wounded almost to death, and carried upon a shield to thy ship; yet after seven days thou shalt be well of thy wounds, and immediately thou shalt let thyself be baptized.”

Tryggvason was attacked by mutineers after the meeting, what the seer told Tryggvason had come to pass, so Tryggvason allowed himself to be baptized and stopped his raids upon England; Svein however kept up his raids on England. Svein and Olaf of Sweden were on good terms and a natural ally after Svein connected to him by marriage.

Jarl Eirik Hkonson, seeking vengeance for his father’s disgrace and death by Tryggvason quickly joined in against Tryggvason. Eirik’s father was Haakon Sigurdsson, Earl of Lade who for a period of time ruled over Norway as a vassal of Harald Bluetooth, but in reality was an independent ruler. Haakon was a strong supporter and believer in the Old Gods so much so that when Harald Bluetooth came to force Christianity upon Norway; Haakon opposed Harald and defeated the Danish invasion force in the battle of Hjrungavgr. When Tryggvason arrived in 995 Haakon and the Tnders broke out into a quarrel, Haakon lost his support quickly to the descendant of Harald Fairhair, Olaf Tryggvason. With no support Haakon was killed by his own rall and friend ormr Karkr as he hid in a pig sty; subsequently Haakon’s descendants was forced from their patrimony.

It is at this point all the sources conflict on what happens next. It is most probable that Tryggvason indeed made it to Wendland and was on his way back to Norway when ambushed; the excuse of dowry became a covenant truth and covered the more likely reason for Olaf Tryggvason being in Wendland which was to recruit allies to fight the alliance that had formed against him. Tryggvason’s trip to Wendland was met with little success for either the dowry or allies.

Sources agree that the battle took place in the year 1000, the oldest of all the sources the slendingabk composed approximately 1128 states the battle occurred in the summer. However Oddr Snorrason says the memorial for the fallen occurs on the Third or Fourth Ides of September making it around September 10 – 11. lfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta composed around 1300 states that the battle occurred on September 9th. Most other sources agree that the battle was indeed in September around the 9th through to the 11th. A shift in the calendar system used in Northern Europe also occurred, this shift could make the actual year of the battle 999 rather than 1000.

The exact location of the battle can not be determined with any degree of certainty; Adam of Bremen says it took place in Oresund; where as grip and Historia Norwegie say the battle occurred off the coast of Zealand. Other sources such as Theodoricus claim the battle occurred beside the island called Svdr which lays near Slavia. The Fagrskinna says the battle was fought off the coast of the island of Svlr near the coast of Vinland. Both Oddr Snorrason and the Heimskringla agree on the island’s name but fail to give a location. Skli rsteinsson, an 11th century Icelandic poet, grandson of Egil Skallagrmsson and a courtier of Jarl Eirkr Hkonarson says the “mouth” of Svolder suggesting that the Norse being unfamiliar with Wendish geography mistaken the river as an island.

All of the Norse says agree that Tryggvason fought against an overwhelming fleet such as the description from Fagrskinna says Tryggvason had but a small fleet but the rest of the sea around him was blanketed in warships. All sources agree Tryggvason had only 11 ships, but the number of vessels in the alliance against Tryggvason varies from source to source:

Oddr Snorrason: Tryggvason had 11 ships, Olaf of Sweden had 60 ships, Eirk had 19 ships and Svein had 60 ships. grip: Tryggvason had 11 ships, Olaf of Sweden had 30 ships, Eirk had 22 ships and Svein had 30 ships. Historia Norwegie: Tryggvason had 11 ships, Olaf of Sweden had 30 ships, Eirk had 11 ships and Svein had 30 ships. Theodoricus monachus: Tryggvason had 11 ships total combined alliance was 70 ships, does not give break down on alliance contributions. Rekstefja: Tryggvason had 11 ships Olaf of Sweden had 15 ships, Eirk had 5 ships and Svein had 60 ships.

Although the sources agree that Tryggvason had only 11 ships there is the verse by Halldrr kristni saying Tryggvason had 71 ships as he sailed from the south. The sagas explain that some of the ships belonged to Jarl Sigvaldi and the Wends who deserted Tryggvason sailing pass the trap before it was sprung.

Three of Tryggvason’s ships are described in the Heimskringla, the first one the Crane was a large fast warship with 30 rowers benches high in the sterm and stern. For a short time it was used as his flag ship. The second ship called the serpent, Tryggvason confiscated from a pagan he tortured to death for refusal to convert. Tryggvason steered this ship himself as it was much larger and a finer ship than the crane. Its bow had a dragon prow and the stern a crook shaped like tail, both sides of the neck and the entire stern were gilded. When the sail was hosted it was made to look like the wing of a dragon; and was the finest of all ships in Norway.

The third ship Tryggvason had constructed would become the flag ship; mentioned in several anecdotes in the sagas the Ormurin Langi; built by the master shipwright Thorberg Skavhogg, it is perhaps the most famous of all Viking Ships that sailed. Ormurin Langi means Long Serpent; it was a richly decorated drakkar class ship that was built between 999-1000 for the expedition to Wendland.

Ormurin Langi was one of the largest ships for its time, the keel of the ship measured 39 meters (72 ells) in length and was powered by 68 oars men; with enough room for more than 500 warriors.

“It was constructed as a dragon ship, on the model of the Serpend which the king had taken along from Hlogaland; only it was much larger and more carefully wrought in all respects. He called it the Long Serpent and the other one, the Short Serpent. The Long Serpent had thirty-four compartments. The head and the tail were all gilt. And the gunwales were as high as those on a seagoing ship. This was the best ship ever built in Norway, and the most costly.” – Snorri Sturluson

In the Heimskringla gives a description of only one ship in the alliance fleet; it was the ship of Eirk Hkonarson Jarl of Lade named Iron Ram.

“Earl Eirk owned a mighty big ship which he was accustomed to take on his Viking expeditions. It had beak or ram on the upper part of prow, fore and aft, and below that heavy iron plates as broad as the beak itself, which went down to the waterline.” – Heimskringla

Tryggvason’s ships sailed passed the anchorage of the alliance ships, Tryggvason’s ships were in a disorderly long column formation as they were not expecting any attack. Olaf of Sweden and Svein remark about their eagerness to begin the battle but Eirk is cautious as he is more familiar with the Norwegian fleet.

Seeing the Short Serpent both Svein and Olaf of Sweden mistake it for the Ormurin Langi and want to proceed with a rushed attack upon it, it is however the informed Eirk that holds off the attack of Svein and Olaf of Sweden:

“It is not King Olaf on this ship. I know this ship because I have seen it often. It is owned by Erlingr Skjlgssib from Jaarr, and it is better to attack this ship from the stern. It is manned with such fellows that, should we encounter King Olaf Tryggvason, we will quickly learn that it would be better for us to find a gap in his fleet than to do battle with this longship.” – Oddr Snorrason, 119

When the moment finally arrives that Eirk consents to attack; Svein boasted about commanding the Ormurin Langi before sunset; Eirk responded with the remark that so few men heard him that the only way Svein will ever command the Ormurin Langi will be with the whole of the Danish army at his disposal for King Svein would never command that ship. The alliance was now loosely held together with a common interest in the demise of King Olaf Tryggvason.

Tryggvason finally seeing the trap he could have run past the ambush with both oar and sail but he refused to flee and turned to give battle with his 11 ships now immediately about him. Immediately insults the Danes calling them forest goats and assured his men victory against the Danes as the Danes have never won a sea battle. Tryggvason then focused on the Swedish fleet insulting their pagan ways:

“The Swedes will have an easier and more pleasant time licking out of their sacrificial bowls than boarding the Long Serpent in the face of our weapons and succeeding in clearing our ships. I expect that we will not need to fear the horse eaters.” – King Olaf Tryggvason

Only when Tryggvason sees Eirk Hkonarson’s fleet that he believes he will have a fight on his hands because they are Norwegian like himself.

To defend against the overwhelming ratio of alliance ships to his own Tryggvason lashed his ships side to side with the Ormurin Langi in the center. By lashing the ships together all the men were then free to fight, a barrier of oars and yards could be constructed and the chance of the enemy fleet using superior numbers to attack on all sides limited. The advantage the Ormurin Langi had in addition to the length was the height of the ship giving a great advantage to Tryggvason’s men; who could rain arrows, spears / javelins and other missiles down on the enemy.

The sagas give all the credit to Tryggvason and his men, giving most of the intelligence and valor of the alliance fleet to Eirk Hkonarson (another Norwegian). This is further shown as both the Swedish and Danish fleets attack Tryggvason from the front and were easily repulsed; both the Swedes and Danes taking heavy casualties and loss of their ships. Whereas Eirk attacked Tryggvason’s flank; forcing the Iron Ram up to the exposed ship in Tryggvason’s line; separating the ship with a fierce attack and once Tryggvason’s ship had been defeated; Eirk repeated the process. One by one Eirk destroyed Tryggvason’s ships until only the Ormurin Langi remained.

Einarr ambarskelfir, an archer in Tryggvason’s fleet described his attempt at killing Eirk Hkonarson:

“Einar shot an arrow at Earl Eirik, which hit the tiller end just above the earl's head so hard that it entered the wood up to the arrow-shaft. The earl looked that way, and asked if they knew who had shot; and at the same moment another arrow flew between his hand and his side, and into the stuffing of the chief's stool, so that the barb stood far out on the other side. Then said the earl to a man called Fin, -- but some say he was of Fin (Laplander) race, and was a superior archer, -- "Shoot that tall man by the mast." Fin shot; and the arrow hit the middle of Einar's bow just at the moment that Einar was drawing it, and the bow was split in two parts.

"What is that", cried King Olaf, "that broke with such a noise?"

"Norway, king, from thy hands," cried Einar.

"No! not quite so much as that," says the king; "take my bow, and shoot," flinging the bow to him.

Einar took the bow, and drew it over the head of the arrow. "Too weak, too weak," said he, "for the bow of a mighty king!" and, throwing the bow aside, he took sword and shield, and fought valiantly.” - Samuel Laing's translation

Once the Ormurin Langi was overpowered and Tryggvason had been defeated; the Danish sources of the battle say Tryggvason committed suicide by jumping into the sea, Adam of Bremen says “the end befitting his life”. Saxo Grammaticus however suggests that Tryggvason took suicide over being captured by an enemy force; dressed in full armour he jumped overboard gladly abandoning life rather than seeing his enemies victorious. It is however not so simple in the Norwegian and Icelandic sources. The sagas offer a variety of possibilities of Tryggvason surviving the battle of Svlder; even Hallfrer ttarsson’s memorial poem to his lord King Olaf Tryggvason suggests that Tryggvason survived the battle. It is grip reported:

“But of the fall of King lfr nothing was known. It was seen that as the fighting lessened he stood, still alive, on the high-deck astern on the Long Serpent, which had thirty-two rowing places. But when Eirkr went to the stern of the ship in search of the king, a light flashed before him as though it were lightning, and when the light disappeared, the king himself was gone.” - Driscoll, Page 35

With the death of Olaf Tryggvason; Norway was then split up into several districts; Olaf the Swede received four districts: Trondheim, Mre, Romsdal and Ranrike; which he gave to Jarl Svein Hkonarson, his son in law to hold as a vassal. King Svein Forkbeard of Denmark received the Viken district where the influence of the Danes had always been strong. Jarl Eirk Hkonarson ruled over the rest of Norway as Svein Forkbeard’s vassal. In the Fagrskinna it says the Swedes territory consinsted of Oppland and part of Trondheim.

The rule of the Jarls Eirk and Svein was a strong and prosperous; most sources agree that they adopted Christianity however they allowed their subjects to do as they pleased in religious matters; fostering and encouraging the backlash against Christianity undoing most of the missionary work of Olaf Tryggvason.

There are many reasons why the Battle of Svlder is one of the most famous battles of the Viking Age; the Norwegians and Icelanders historiography held Tryggvason in high regard and as the King to bring Christianity to Scandinavia. But it was also in part by the efforts of court poets of Jarl Eirk Hkonarson; Mesta wrote:

“The battle is acknowledged to have been for many reasons the most famous that was ever fought in Northern lands. For, first there was the noble defence made by King Olaf and his men on board the Long Serpent. No instance is known where men have defended themselves so long and so valiantly against such overwhelming numbers of foes as they had to encounter. Then there was the fierce attack made by Earl Eric and his men, which has been held in wide renown. ... The battle was very famous too, on account of the great slaughter, and the Earl's success in clearing a ship that up to that time was the largest built and the fairest in Norway; of which shipmen said that it would never, while floating on the sea, be won with arms in the face of such heroes as manned it.” - The Saga of King Olaf Tryggvason

In Iceland in the 15th century the Svldar rmur chronicled the battle in verse basing largely upon the account of Oddr Snorrason. In the 18th century another rmur was composed but appears to have been lost; and in the 19th century the rmur written by Sigurur Breifjr followed the account by Mesta. Also in the 19th century with the rise of nationalism and some romanticism of the sagas the interest in the Battle of Svder increased outside of Iceland. In approximately 1830 the Faroese poet Jens Christian Djurhuus wrote the ballad Ormurin Langi following the account of Snorri.

In Norway one of the biggest milestones in Norwegian literature was Einar Tambarskjelve, written by Johan Nordahl Brun in 1772. Bjrnstjerne Bjrnson wrote the short-poem on King Olav Trygvason’s fall; he also helped Edward Grieg with his opera on Olaf Tryggvason.

Even English literature has been influenced by the great battle as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow makes specific mention of the battle in his Tales of a Wayside Inn where one cycle is named “The Musician’s Tale - The Saga of King Olaf”:

“I am the God Thor,
I am the War God,
I am the Thunderer!
Here in my Northland,
My fastness and fortress,
Reign I forever!

Here amid icebergs
Rule I the nations;
This is my hammer,
Milner the mighty;
Giants and sorcerers
Cannot withstand it!

These are the gauntlets
Wherewith I wield it,
And hurl it afar off;
This is my girdle;
Whenever I brace it,
Strength is redoubled!

The light thou beholdest
Stream through the heavens,
In flashes of crimson,
Is but my red beard
Blown by the night-wind,
Affrighting the nations!

Jove is my brother;
Mine eyes are the lightning;
The wheels of my chariot
Roll in the thunder,
The blows of my hammer
Ring in the earthquake!

Force rules the world still,
Has ruled it, shall rule it;
Meekness is weakness,
Strength is triumphant,
Over the whole earth
Still is it Thor's-Day!

Thou art a God too,
O Galilean!
And thus single-handed
Unto the combat,
Gauntlet or Gospel,
Here I defy thee!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf I: The challenge of Thor -

“And King Olaf heard the cry,
Saw the red light in the sky,
Laid his hand upon his sword,
As he leaned upon the railing,
And his ships went sailing, sailing
Northward into Drontheim fjord.

There he stood as one who dreamed;
And the red light glanced and gleamed
On the armor that he wore;
And he shouted, as the rifted
Streamers o'er him shook and shifted,
"I accept thy challenge, Thor!"

To avenge his father slain,
And reconquer realm and reign,
Came the youthful Olaf home,
Through the midnight sailing, sailing,
Listening to the wild wind's wailing,
And the dashing of the foam.

To his thoughts the sacred name
Of his mother Astrid came,
And the tale she oft had told
Of her flight by secret passes
Through the mountains and morasses,
To the home of Hakon old.

Then strange memories crowded back
Of Queen Gunhild's wrath and wrack,
And a hurried flight by sea;
Of grim Vikings, and the rapture
Of the sea-fight, and the capture,
And the life of slavery.

How a stranger watched his face
In the Esthonian market-place,
Scanned his features one by one,
Saying, "We should know each other;
I am Sigurd, Astrid's brother,
Thou art Olaf, Astrid's son!"

Then as Queen Allogia's page,
Old in honors, young in age,
Chief of all her men-at-arms;
Till vague whispers, and mysterious,
Reached King Valdemar, the imperious,
Filling him with strange alarms.

Then his cruisings o'er the seas,
Westward to the Hebrides,
And to Scilly's rocky shore;
And the hermit's cavern dismal,
Christ's great name and rites baptismal
In the ocean's rush and roar.

All these thoughts of love and strife
Glimmered through his lurid life,
As the stars' intenser light
Through the red flames o'er him trailing,
As his ships went sailing, sailing,
Northward in the summer night.

Trained for either camp or court,
Skilful in each manly sport,
Young and beautiful and tall;
Art of warfare, craft of chases,
Swimming, skating, snow-shoe races,
Excellent alike in all.

When at sea, with all his rowers,
He along the bending oars
Outside of his ship could run.
He the Smalsor Horn ascended,
And his shining shield suspended
On its summit, like a sun.

On the ship-rails he could stand,
Wield his sword with either hand,
And at once two javelins throw;
At all feasts where ale was strongest
Sat the merry monarch longest,
First to come and last to go.

Norway never yet had seen
One so beautiful of mien,
One so royal in attire,
When in arms completely furnished,
Harness gold-inlaid and burnished,
Mantle like a flame of fire.

Thus came Olaf to his own,
When upon the night-wind blown
Passed that cry along the shore;
And he answered, while the rifted
Streamers o'er him shook and shifted,
"I accept thy challenge, Thor!"”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf II: King Olaf’s Return -

“"Thora of Rimol! hide me! hide me!
Danger and shame and death betide me!
For Olaf the King is hunting me down
Through field and forest, through thorp and town!"
Thus cried Jarl Hakon
To Thora, the fairest of women.

“Hakon Jarl! for the love I bear thee
Neither shall shame nor death come near thee!
But the hiding-place wherein thou must lie
Is the cave underneath the swine in the sty."
Thus to Jarl Hakon
Said Thora, the fairest of women.

So Hakon Jarl and his base thrall Karker
Crouched in the cave, than a dungeon darker,
As Olaf came riding, with men in mail,
Through the forest roads into Orkadale,
Demanding Jarl Hakon
Of Thorn, the fairest of women.

"Rich and honored shall be whoever
The head of Hakon Jarl shall dissever!"
Hakon heard him, and Karker the slave,
Through the breathing-holes of the darksome cave.
Alone in her chamber
Wept Thora, the fairest of women.

Said Karker, the crafty, "I will not slay thee!
For all the king's gold I will never betray thee!"
"Then why dost thou turn so pale, O churl,
And then again black as the earth?" said the Earl.
More pale and more faithful
Was Thora, the fairest of women.

From a dream in the night the thrall started, saying,
"Round my neck a gold ring King Olaf was laying!"
And Hakon answered, "Beware of the king!
He will lay round thy neck a blood-red ring."
At the ring on her finger
Gazed Thora, the fairest of women.

At daybreak slept Hakon, with sorrows encumbered,
But screamed and drew up his feet as he slumbered;
The thrall in the darkness plunged with his knife,
And the Earl awakened no more in this life.
But wakeful and weeping
Sat Thora, the fairest of women.

At Nidarholm the priests are all singing,
Two ghastly heads on the gibbet are swinging;
One is Jarl Hakon's and one is his thrall's,
And the people are shouting from windows and walls;
While alone in her chamber
Swoons Thora, the fairest of women.”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf III: Thora of Rimol -

“Queen Sigrid the Haughty sat proud and aloft
In her chamber, that looked over meadow and croft.
Heart's dearest,
Why dost thou sorrow so?

The floor with tassels of fir was besprent,
Filling the room with their fragrant scent.

She heard the birds sing, she saw the sun shine,
The air of summer was sweeter than wine.

Like a sword without scabbard the bright river lay
Between her own kingdom and Norroway.

But Olaf the King had sued for her hand,
The sword would be sheathed, the river be spanned.

Her maidens were seated around her knee,
Working bright figures in tapestry.

And one was singing the ancient rune
Of Brynhilda's love and the wrath of Gudrun.

And through it, and round it, and over it all
Sounded incessant the waterfall.

The Queen in her hand held a ring of gold,
From the door of Lad's Temple old.

King Olaf had sent her this wedding gift,
But her thoughts as arrows were keen and swift.

She had given the ring to her goldsmiths twain,
Who smiled, as they handed it back again.

And Sigrid the Queen, in her haughty way,
Said, "Why do you smile, my goldsmiths, say?"

And they answered: "O Queen! if the truth must be told,
The ring is of copper, and not of gold!"

The lightning flashed o'er her forehead and cheek,
She only murmured, she did not speak:

"If in his gifts he can faithless be,
There will be no gold in his love to me."

A footstep was heard on the outer stair,
And in strode King Olaf with royal air.

He kissed the Queen's hand, and he whispered of love,
And swore to be true as the stars are above.

But she smiled with contempt as she answered: "O King,
Will you swear it, as Odin once swore, on the ring?"

And the King: "O speak not of Odin to me,
The wife of King Olaf a Christian must be."

Looking straight at the King, with her level brows,
She said, "I keep true to my faith and my vows."

Then the face of King Olaf was darkened with gloom,
He rose in his anger and strode through the room.

"Why, then, should I care to have thee?" he said,--
"A faded old woman, a heathenish jade!

His zeal was stronger than fear or love,
And he struck the Queen in the face with his glove.

Then forth from the chamber in anger he fled,
And the wooden stairway shook with his tread.

Queen Sigrid the Haughty said under her breath,
"This insult, King Olaf, shall be thy death!"
Heart's dearest,
Why dost thou sorrow so?””

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf IV: Queen Sigrid the Haughty -

“Now from all King Olaf's farms
His men-at-arms
Gathered on the Eve of Easter;
To his house at Angvalds-ness
Fast they press,
Drinking with the royal feaster.

Loudly through the wide-flung door
Came the roar
Of the sea upon the Skerry;
And its thunder loud and near
Reached the ear,
Mingling with their voices merry.

"Hark!" said Olaf to his Scald,
Halfred the Bald,
"Listen to that song, and learn it!
Half my kingdom would I give,
As I live,
If by such songs you would earn it!

"For of all the runes and rhymes
Of all times,
Best I like the ocean's dirges,
When the old harper heaves and rocks,
His hoary locks
Flowing and flashing in the surges!"

Halfred answered: "I am called
The Unappalled!
Nothing hinders me or daunts me.
Hearken to me, then, O King,
While I sing
The great Ocean Song that haunts me."

"I will hear your song sublime
Some other time,"
Says the drowsy monarch, yawning,
And retires; each laughing guest
Applauds the jest;
Then they sleep till day is dawning.

Facing up and down the yard,
King Olaf's guard
Saw the sea-mist slowly creeping
O'er the sands, and up the hill,
Gathering still
Round the house where they were sleeping.

It was not the fog he saw,
Nor misty flaw,
That above the landscape brooded;
It was Eyvind Kallda's crew
Of warlocks blue
With their caps of darkness hooded!

Round and round the house they go,
Weaving slow
Magic circles to encumber
And imprison in their ring
Olaf the King,
As he helpless lies in slumber.

Then athwart the vapors dun
The Easter sun
Streamed with one broad track of splendor!
In their real forms appeared
The warlocks weird,
Awful as the Witch of Endor.

Blinded by the light that glared,
They groped and stared,
Round about with steps unsteady;
From his window Olaf gazed,
And, amazed,
"Who are these strange people?" said he.

"Eyvind Kallda and his men!"
Answered then
From the yard a sturdy farmer;
While the men-at-arms apace
Filled the place,
Busily buckling on their armor.

From the gates they sallied forth,
South and north,
Scoured the island coast around them,
Seizing all the warlock band,
Foot and hand
On the Skerry's rocks they bound them.

And at eve the king again
Called his train,
And, with all the candles burning,
Silent sat and heard once more
The sullen roar
Of the ocean tides returning.

Shrieks and cries of wild despair
Filled the air,
Growing fainter as they listened;
Then the bursting surge alone
Sounded on;--
Thus the sorcerers were christened!

"Sing, O Scald, your song sublime,
Your ocean-rhyme,"
Cried King Olaf: "it will cheer me!"
Said the Scald, with pallid cheeks,
"The Skerry of Shrieks
Sings too loud for you to hear me!"”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf V: The Skerry of Shrieks -

“The guests were loud, the ale was strong,
King Olaf feasted late and long;
The hoary Scalds together sang;
O'erhead the smoky rafters rang.
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

The door swung wide, with creak and din;
A blast of cold night-air came in,
And on the threshold shivering stood
A one-eyed guest, with cloak and hood.
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

The King exclaimed, "O graybeard pale!
Come warm thee with this cup of ale."
The foaming draught the old man quaffed,
The noisy guests looked on and laughed.
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

Then spake the King: "Be not afraid;
Sit here by me." The guest obeyed,
And, seated at the table, told
Tales of the sea, and Sagas old.
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

And ever, when the tale was o'er,
The King demanded yet one more;
Till Sigurd the Bishop smiling said,
"'T is late, O King, and time for bed."
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

The King retired; the stranger guest
Followed and entered with the rest;
The lights were out, the pages gone,
But still the garrulous guest spake on.
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

As one who from a volume reads,
He spake of heroes and their deeds,
Of lands and cities he had seen,
And stormy gulfs that tossed between.
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

Then from his lips in music rolled
The Havamal of Odin old,
With sounds mysterious as the roar
Of billows on a distant shore.
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

"Do we not learn from runes and rhymes
Made by the gods in elder times,
And do not still the great Scalds teach
That silence better is than speech?"
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

Smiling at this, the King replied,
"Thy lore is by thy tongue belied;
For never was I so enthralled
Either by Saga-man or Scald,"
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

The Bishop said, "Late hours we keep!
Night wanes, O King! 't is time for sleep!"
Then slept the King, and when he woke
The guest was gone, the morning broke.
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

They found the doors securely barred,
They found the watch-dog in the yard,
There was no footprint in the grass,
And none had seen the stranger pass.
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

King Olaf crossed himself and said:
"I know that Odin the Great is dead;
Sure is the triumph of our Faith,
The one-eyed stranger was his wraith."
Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf VI: The Wraith of Odin -

“Olaf the King, one summer morn,
Blew a blast on his bugle-horn,
Sending his signal through the land of Drontheim.

And to the Hus-Ting held at Mere
Gathered the farmers far and near,
With their war weapons ready to confront him.

Ploughing under the morning star,
Old Iron-Beard in Yriar
Heard the summons, chuckling with a low laugh.

He wiped the sweat-drops from his brow,
Unharnessed his horses from the plough,
And clattering came on horseback to King Olaf.

He was the churliest of the churls;
Little he cared for king or earls;
Bitter as home-brewed ale were his foaming passions.

Hodden-gray was the garb he wore,
And by the Hammer of Thor he swore;
He hated the narrow town, and all its fashions.

But he loved the freedom of his farm,
His ale at night, by the fireside warm,
Gudrun his daughter, with her flaxen tresses.

He loved his horses and his herds,
The smell of the earth, and the song of birds,
His well-filled barns, his brook with its water-cresses.

Huge and cumbersome was his frame;
His beard, from which he took his name,
Frosty and fierce, like that of Hymer the Giant.

So at the Hus-Ting he appeared,
The farmer of Yriar, Iron-Beard,
On horseback, in an attitude defiant.

And to King Olaf he cried aloud,
Out of the middle of the crowd,
That tossed about him like a stormy ocean:

"Such sacrifices shalt thou bring;
To Odin and to Thor, O King,
As other kings have done in their devotion!"

King Olaf answered: "I command
This land to be a Christian land;
Here is my Bishop who the folk baptizes!

"But if you ask me to restore
Your sacrifices, stained with gore,
Then will I offer human sacrifices!

"Not slaves and peasants shall they be,
But men of note and high degree,
Such men as Orm of Lyra and Kar of Gryting!"

Then to their Temple strode he in,
And loud behind him heard the din
Of his men-at-arms and the peasants fiercely fighting.

There in the Temple, carved in wood,
The image of great Odin stood,
And other gods, with Thor supreme among them.

King Olaf smote them with the blade
Of his huge war-axe, gold inlaid,
And downward shattered to the pavement flung them.

At the same moment rose without,
From the contending crowd, a shout,
A mingled sound of triumph and of wailing.

And there upon the trampled plain
The farmer Iron-Beard lay slain,
Midway between the assailed and the assailing.

King Olaf from the doorway spoke.
"Choose ye between two things, my folk,
To be baptized or given up to slaughter!"

And seeing their leader stark and dead,
The people with a murmur said,
"O King, baptize us with thy holy water."

So all the Drontheim land became
A Christian land in name and fame,
In the old gods no more believing and trusting.

And as a blood-atonement, soon
King Olaf wed the fair Gudrun;
And thus in peace ended the Drontheim Hus-Ting!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf VII: The Wraith of Odin -

“On King Olaf's bridal night
Shines the moon with tender light,
And across the chamber streams
Its tide of dreams.

At the fatal midnight hour,
When all evil things have power,
In the glimmer of the moon
Stands Gudrun.

Close against her heaving breast
Something in her hand is pressed;
Like an icicle, its sheen
Is cold and keen.

On the cairn are fixed her eyes
Where her murdered father lies,
And a voice remote and drear
She seems to hear.

What a bridal night is this!
Cold will be the dagger's kiss;
Laden with the chill of death
Is its breath.

Like the drifting snow she sweeps
To the couch where Olaf sleeps;
Suddenly he wakes and stirs,
His eyes meet hers.

"What is that," King Olaf said,
"Gleams so bright above my head?
Wherefore standest thou so white
In pale moonlight?"

"'T is the bodkin that I wear
When at night I bind my hair;
It woke me falling on the floor;
'T is nothing more."

"Forests have ears, and fields have eyes;
Often treachery lurking lies
Underneath the fairest hair!
Gudrun beware!"

Ere the earliest peep of morn
Blew King Olaf's bugle-horn;
And forever sundered ride
Bridegroom and bride!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf VIII: Gudrun -

“Short of stature, large of limb,
Burly face and russet beard,
All the women stared at him,
When in Iceland he appeared.
"Look!" they said,
With nodding head,
"There goes Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest."

All the prayers he knew by rote,
He could preach like Chrysostome,
From the Fathers he could quote,
He had even been at Rome,
A learned clerk,
A man of mark,
Was this Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

He was quarrelsome and loud,
And impatient of control,
Boisterous in the market crowd,
Boisterous at the wassail-bowl,
Everywhere
Would drink and swear,
Swaggering Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest

In his house this malcontent
Could the King no longer bear,
So to Iceland he was sent
To convert the heathen there,
And away
One summer day
Sailed this Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

There in Iceland, o'er their books
Pored the people day and night,
But he did not like their looks,
Nor the songs they used to write.
"All this rhyme
Is waste of time!"
Grumbled Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

To the alehouse, where he sat
Came the Scalds and Saga-men;
Is it to be wondered at,
That they quarrelled now and then,
When o'er his beer
Began to leer
Drunken Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest?

All the folk in Altafjord
Boasted of their island grand;
Saying in a single word,
"Iceland is the finest land
That the sun
Doth shine upon!"
Loud laughed Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

And he answered: "What's the use
Of this bragging up and down,
When three women and one goose
Make a market in your town!"
Every Scald
Satires drawled
On poor Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

Something worse they did than that;
And what vexed him most of all
Was a figure in shovel hat,
Drawn in charcoal on the wall;
With words that go
Sprawling below,
"This is Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest."

Hardly knowing what he did,
Then he smote them might and main,
Thorvald Veile and Veterlid
Lay there in the alehouse slain.
"To-day we are gold,
To-morrow mould!"
Muttered Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

Much in fear of axe and rope,
Back to Norway sailed he then.
"O King Olaf! little hope
Is there of these Iceland men!"
Meekly said,
With bending head,
Pious Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest””

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf IX: Thangbrand the Priest -

“"All the old gods are dead,
All the wild warlocks fled;
But the White Christ lives and reigns,
And throughout my wide domains
His Gospel shall be spread!"
On the Evangelists
Thus swore King Olaf.

But still in dreams of the night
Beheld he the crimson light,
And heard the voice that defied
Him who was crucified,
And challenged him to the fight.
To Sigurd the Bishop
King Olaf confessed it.

And Sigurd the Bishop said,
"The old gods are not dead,
For the great Thor still reigns,
And among the Jarls and Thanes
The old witchcraft still is spread."
Thus to King Olaf
Said Sigurd the Bishop.

"Far north in the Salten Fjord,
By rapine, fire, and sword,
Lives the Viking, Raud the Strong;
All the Godoe Isles belong
To him and his heathen horde."
Thus went on speaking
Sigurd the Bishop.

"A warlock, a wizard is he,
And lord of the wind and the sea;
And whichever way he sails,
He has ever favoring gales,
By his craft in sorcery."
Here the sign of the cross
Made devoutly King Olaf.

"With rites that we both abhor,
He worships Odin and Thor;
So it cannot yet be said,
That all the old gods are dead,
And the warlocks are no more,"
Flushing with anger
Said Sigurd the Bishop.

Then King Olaf cried aloud:
"I will talk with this mighty Raud,
And along the Salten Fjord
Preach the Gospel with my sword,
Or be brought back in my shroud!"
So northward from Drontheim
Sailed King Olaf!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf X: Raud the Strong -

“Loud the anngy wind was wailing
As King Olaf's ships came sailing
Northward out of Drontheim haven
To the mouth of Salten Fjord.

Though the flying sea-spray drenches
Fore and aft the rowers' benches,
Not a single heart is craven
Of the champions there on board.

All without the Fjord was quiet
But within it storm and riot,
Such as on his Viking cruises
Raud the Strong was wont to ride.

And the sea through all its tide-ways
Swept the reeling vessels sideways,
As the leaves are swept through sluices,
When the flood-gates open wide.

"'T is the warlock! 't is the demon
Raud!" cried Sigurd to the seamen;
"But the Lord is not affrighted
By the witchcraft of his foes."

To the ship's bow he ascended,
By his choristers attended,
Round him were the tapers lighted,
And the sacred incense rose.

On the bow stood Bishop Sigurd,
In his robes, as one transfigured,
And the Crucifix he planted
High amid the rain and mist.

Then with holy water sprinkled
All the ship; the mass-bells tinkled.
Loud the monks around him chanted,
Loud he read the Evangelist.

As into the Fjord they darted,
On each side the water parted;
Down a path like silver molten
Steadily rowed King Olaf's ships;

Steadily burned all night the tapers,
And the White Christ through the vapors
Gleamed across the Fjord of Salten,
As through John's Apocalypse,--

Till at last they reached Raud's dwelling
On the little isle of Gelling;
Not a guard was at the doorway,
Not a glimmer of light was seen.

But at anchor, carved and gilded,
Lay the dragon-ship he builded;
'T was the grandest ship in Norway, With its crest and scales of green.

Up the stairway, softly creeping,
To the loft where Raud was sleeping,
With their fists they burst asunder
Bolt and bar that held the door.

Drunken with sleep and ale they found him,
Dragged him from his bed and bound him,
While he stared with stupid wonder,
At the look and garb they wore.

Then King Olaf said: "O Sea-King!
Little time have we for speaking,
Choose between the good and evil;
Be baptized, or thou shalt die!”

But in scorn the heathen scoffer
Answered: "I disdain thine offer;
Neither fear I God nor Devil;
Thee and thy Gospel I defy!"

Then between his jaws distended,
When his frantic struggles ended,
Through King Olaf's horn an adder,
Touched by fire, they forced to glide.

Sharp his tooth was as an arrow,
As he gnawed through bone and marrow;
But without a groan or shudder,
Raud the Strong blaspheming died.

Then baptized they all that region,
Swarthy Lap and fair Norwegian,
Far as swims the salmon, leaping,
Up the streams of Salten Fjord.

In their temples Thor and Odin
Lay in dust and ashes trodden,
As King Olaf, onward sweeping,
Preached the Gospel with his sword.

Then he took the carved and gilded
Dragon-ship that Raud had builded,
And the tiller single-handed,
Grasping, steered into the main.

Southward sailed the sea-gulls o'er him,
Southward sailed the ship that bore him,
Till at Drontheim haven landed
Olaf and his crew again.”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XI: Bishop Sigurd at Salten Fjord -

“At Drontheim, Olaf the King
Heard the bells of Yule-tide ring,
As he sat in his banquet-hall,
Drinking the nut-brown ale,
With his bearded Berserks hale
And tall.

Three days his Yule-tide feasts
He held with Bishops and Priests,
And his horn filled up to the brim;
But the ale was never too strong,
Nor the Saga-man's tale too long,
For him.

O'er his drinking-horn, the sign
He made of the cross divine,
As he drank, and muttered his prayers;
But the Berserks evermore
Made the sign of the Hammer of Thor
Over theirs.

The gleams of the fire-light dance
Upon helmet and hauberk and lance,
And laugh in the eyes of the King;
And he cries to Halfred the Scald,
Gray-bearded, wrinkled, and bald,
"Sing!"

"Sing me a song divine,
With a sword in every line,
And this shall be thy reward."
And he loosened the belt at his waist,
And in front of the singer placed
His sword.

"Quern-biter of Hakon the Good,
Wherewith at a stroke he hewed
The millstone through and through,
And Foot-breadth of Thoralf the Strong,
Were neither so broad nor so long,
Nor so true."

Then the Scald took his harp and sang,
And loud through the music rang
The sound of that shining word;
And the harp-strings a clangor made,
As if they were struck with the blade
Of a sword.

And the Berserks round about
Broke forth into a shout
That made the rafters ring:
They smote with their fists on the board,
And shouted, "Long live the Sword,
And the King!"

But the King said, "O my son,
I miss the bright word in one
Of thy measures and thy rhymes."
And Halfred the Scald replied,
"In another 't was multiplied
Three times."

Then King Olaf raised the hilt
Of iron, cross-shaped and gilt,
And said, "Do not refuse;
Count well the gain and the loss,
Thor's hammer or Christ's cross: Choose!"

And Halfred the Scald said, "This
In the name of the Lord I kiss,
Who on it was crucified!"
And a shout went round the board,
"In the name of Christ the Lord, Who died!"

Then over the waste of snows
The noonday sun uprose,
Through the driving mists revealed,
Like the lifting of the Host,
By incense-clouds almost
Concealed.

On the shining wall a vast
And shadowy cross was cast
From the hilt of the lifted sword,
And in foaming cups of ale
The Berserks drank "Was-hael!
To the Lord!"”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XII: King Olaf’s Christmas -

“Thorberg Skafting, master-builder,
In his ship-yard by the sea,
Whistling, said, "It would bewilder
Any man but Thorberg Skafting,
Any man but me!"

Near him lay the Dragon stranded,
Built of old by Raud the Strong,
And King Olaf had commanded
He should build another Dragon,
Twice as large and long.

Therefore whistled Thorberg Skafting,
As he sat with half-closed eyes,
And his head turned sideways, drafting
That new vessel for King Olaf
Twice the Dragon's size.

Round him busily hewed and hammered
Mallet huge and heavy axe;
Workmen laughed and sang and clamored;
Whirred the wheels, that into rigging
Spun the shining flax!

All this tumult heard the master,--
It was music to his ear;
Fancy whispered all the faster,
"Men shall hear of Thorberg Skafting
For a hundred year!"

Workmen sweating at the forges
Fashioned iron bolt and bar,
Like a warlock's midnight orgies
Smoked and bubbled the black caldron
With the boiling tar.

Did the warlocks mingle in it,
Thorberg Skafting, any curse?
Could you not be gone a minute
But some mischief must be doing,
Turning bad to worse?

'T was an ill wind that came wafting,
From his homestead words of woe;
To his farm went Thorberg Skafting,
Oft repeating to his workmen,
Build ye thus and so.

After long delays returning
Came the master back by night;
To his ship-yard longing, yearning,
Hurried he, and did not leave it
Till the morning's light.

"Come and see my ship, my darling!”
On the morrow said the King;
"Finished now from keel to carling;
Never yet was seen in Norway
Such a wondrous thing!"

In the ship-yard, idly talking,
At the ship the workmen stared:
Some one, all their labor balking,
Down her sides had cut deep gashes,
Not a plank was spared!

"Death be to the evil-doer!"
With an oath King Olaf spoke;
"But rewards to his pursuer!”
And with wrath his face grew redder
Than his scarlet cloak.

Straight the master-builder, smiling,
Answered thus the angry King:
"Cease blaspheming and reviling,
Olaf, it was Thorberg Skafting
Who has done this thing!"

Then he chipped and smoothed the planking,
Till the King, delighted, swore,
With much lauding and much thanking,
"Handsomer is now my Dragon
Than she was before!"

Seventy ells and four extended
On the grass the vessel's keel;
High above it, gilt and splendid,
Rose the figure-head ferocious
With its crest of steel.

Then they launched her from the tressels,
In the ship-yard by the sea;
She was the grandest of all vessels,
Never ship was built in Norway
Half so fine as she!

The Long Serpent was she christened,
'Mid the roar of cheer on cheer!
They who to the Saga listened
Heard the name of Thorberg Skafting
For a hundred year!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XIII: The Building of the Long Serpent -

“Safe at anchor in Drontheim bay
King Olaf's fleet assembled lay,
And, striped with white and blue,
Downward fluttered sail and banner,
As alights the screaming lanner;
Lustily cheered, in their wild manner,
The Long Serpent's crew.

Her forecastle man was Ulf the Red,
Like a wolf's was his shaggy head,
His teeth as large and white;
His beard, of gray and russet blended,
Round as a swallow's nest descended;
As standard-bearer he defended
Olaf's flag in the fight.

Near him Kolbiorn had his place,
Like the King in garb and face,
So gallant and so hale;
Every cabin-boy and varlet
Wondered at his cloak of scarlet;
Like a river, frozen and star-lit,
Gleamed his coat of mail.

By the bulkhead, tall and dark,
Stood Thrand Rame of Thelemark,
A figure gaunt and grand;
On his hairy arm imprinted
Was an anchor, azure-tinted;
Like Thor's hammer, huge and dinted
Was his brawny hand.

Einar Tamberskelver, bare
To the winds his golden hair,
By the mainmast stood;
Graceful was his form, and slender,
And his eyes were deep and tender
As a woman's, in the splendor
Of her maidenhood.

In the fore-hold Biorn and Bork
Watched the sailors at their work:
Heavens! how they swore!
Thirty men they each commanded,
Iron-sinewed, horny-handed,
Shoulders broad, and chests expanded.
Tugging at the oar.

These, and many more like these,
With King Olaf sailed the seas,
Till the waters vast
Filled them with a vague devotion,
With the freedom and the motion,
With the roll and roar of ocean
And the sounding blast.

When they landed from the fleet,
How they roared through Drontheim's street,
Boisterous as the gale!
How they laughed and stamped and pounded,
Till the tavern roof resounded,
And the host looked on astounded
As they drank the ale!

Never saw the wild North Sea
Such a gallant company
Sail its billows blue!
Never, while they cruised and quarrelled,
Old King Gorm, or Blue-Tooth Harald,
Owned a ship so well apparelled,
Boasted such a crew!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XIV: The Crew of the Long Serpent -

“A little bird in the air
Is singing of Thyri the fair,
The sister of Svend the Dane;
And the song of the garrulous bird
In the streets of the town is heard,
And repeated again and again.
Hoist up your sails of silk,
And flee away from each other.

To King Burislaf, it is said,
Was the beautiful Thyri wed,
And a sorrowful bride went she;
And after a week and a day,
She has fled away and away,
From his town by the stormy sea.
Hoist up your sails of silk,
And flee away from each other.

They say, that through heat and through cold,
Through weald, they say, and through wold,
By day and by night, they say,
She has fled; and the gossips report
She has come to King Olaf's court,
And the town is all in dismay.
Hoist up your sails of silk,
And flee away from each other.

It is whispered King Olaf has seen,
Has talked with the beautiful Queen;
And they wonder how it will end;
For surely, if here she remain,
It is war with King Svend the Dane,
And King Burislaf the Vend!
Hoist up your sails of silk,
And flee away from each other.

Oh, greatest wonder of all!
It is published in hamlet and hall,
It roars like a flame that is fanned!
The King--yes, Olaf the King--
Has wedded her with his ring,
And Thyri is Queen in the land!
Hoist up your sails of silk,
And flee away from each other.”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XV: A Little Bird in the Air -

“Northward over Drontheim,
Flew the clamorous sea-gulls,
Sang the lark and linnet
From the meadows green;

Weeping in her chamber,
Lonely and unhappy,
Sat the Drottning Thyri,
Sat King Olaf's Queen.

In at all the windows
Streamed the pleasant sunshine,
On the roof above her
Softly cooed the dove;

But the sound she heard not,
Nor the sunshine heeded,
For the thoughts of Thyri
Were not thoughts of love,

Then King Olaf entered,
Beautiful as morning,
Like the sun at Easter
Shone his happy face;

In his hand he carried
Angelicas uprooted,
With delicious fragrance
Filling all the place.

Like a rainy midnight
Sat the Drottning Thyri,
Even the smile of Olaf
Could not cheer her gloom;

Nor the stalks he gave her
With a gracious gesture,
And with words as pleasant
As their own perfume.

In her hands he placed them,
And her jewelled fingers
Through the green leaves glistened
Like the dews of morn;

But she cast them from her,
Haughty and indignant,
On the floor she threw them
With a look of scorn.

"Richer presents," said she,
"Gave King Harald Gormson
To the Queen, my mother,
Than such worthless weeds;

"When he ravaged Norway,
Laying waste the kingdom,
Seizing scatt and treasure
For her royal needs.

"But thou darest not venture
Through the Sound to Vendland,
My domains to rescue
From King Burislaf;

"Lest King Svend of Denmark,
Forked Beard, my brother,
Scatter all thy vessels
As the wind the chaff."

Then up sprang King Olaf,
Like a reindeer bounding,
With an oath he answered
Thus the luckless Queen:

"Never yet did Olaf
Fear King Svend of Denmark;
This right hand shall hale him
By his forked chin!"

Then he left the chamber,
Thundering through the doorway,
Loud his steps resounded
Down the outer stair.

Smarting with the insult,
Through the streets of Drontheim
Strode he red and wrathful,
With his stately air.

All his ships he gathered,
Summoned all his forces,
Making his war levy
In the region round;

Down the coast of Norway,
Like a flock of sea-gulls,
Sailed the fleet of Olaf
Through the Danish Sound.

With his own hand fearless,
Steered he the Long Serpent,
Strained the creaking cordage,
Bent each boom and gaff;

Till in Venland landing,
The domains of Thyri
He redeemed and rescued
From King Burislaf.

Then said Olaf, laughing,
"Not ten yoke of oxen
Have the power to draw us
Like a woman's hair!

"Now will I confess it,
Better things are jewels
Than angelica stalks are
For a Queen to wear."”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XVI: Queen Thyri and the Angelica Stalks -

“Loudly the sailors cheered
Svend of the Forked Beard,
As with his fleet he steered
Southward to Vendland;
Where with their courses hauled
All were together called,
Under the Isle of Svald
Near to the mainland.

After Queen Gunhild's death,
So the old Saga saith,
Plighted King Svend his faith
To Sigrid the Haughty;
And to avenge his bride,
Soothing her wounded pride,
Over the waters wide
King Olaf sought he.

Still on her scornful face,
Blushing with deep disgrace,
Bore she the crimson trace
Of Olaf's gauntlet;
Like a malignant star,
Blazing in heaven afar,
Red shone the angry scar
Under her frontlet.

Oft to King Svend she spake,
"For thine own honor's sake
Shalt thou swift vengeance take
On the vile coward!"
Until the King at last,
Gusty and overcast,
Like a tempestuous blast
Threatened and lowered.

Soon as the Spring appeared,
Svend of the Forked Beard
High his red standard reared,
Eager for battle;
While every warlike Dane,
Seizing his arms again,
Left all unsown the grain,
Unhoused the cattle.

Likewise the Swedish King
Summoned in haste a Thing,
Weapons and men to bring
In aid of Denmark;
Eric the Norseman, too,
As the war-tidings flew,
Sailed with a chosen crew
From Lapland and Finmark.

So upon Easter day
Sailed the three kings away,
Out of the sheltered bay,
In the bright season;
With them Earl Sigvald came,
Eager for spoil and fame;
Pity that such a name
Stooped to such treason!

Safe under Svald at last,
Now were their anchors cast,
Safe from the sea and blast,
Plotted the three kings;
While, with a base intent,
Southward Earl Sigvald went,
On a foul errand bent,
Unto the Sea-kings.

Thence to hold on his course,
Unto King Olaf's force,
Lying within the hoarse
Mouths of Stet-haven;
Him to ensnare and bring,
Unto the Danish king,
Who his dead corse would fling
Forth to the raven!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XVII: King Svend of the Forked Beard -

“On the gray sea-sands
King Olaf stands,
Northward and seaward
He points with his hands.

With eddy and whirl
The sea-tides curl,
Washing the sandals
Of Sigvald the Earl.

The mariners shout,
The ships swing about,
The yards are all hoisted,
The sails flutter out.

The war-horns are played,
The anchors are weighed,
Like moths in the distance
The sails flit and fade.

The sea is like lead
The harbor lies dead,
As a corse on the sea-shore,
Whose spirit has fled!

On that fatal day,
The histories say,
Seventy vessels
Sailed out of the bay.

But soon scattered wide
O'er the billows they ride,
While Sigvald and Olaf
Sail side by side.

Cried the Earl: "Follow me!
I your pilot will be,
For I know all the channels
Where flows the deep sea!"

So into the strait
Where his foes lie in wait,
Gallant King Olaf
Sails to his fate!

Then the sea-fog veils
The ships and their sails;
Queen Sigrid the Haughty,
Thy vengeance prevails!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XVIII: King Olaf and Earl Sigvald -

“"Strike the sails!" King Olaf said;
"Never shall men of mine take flight;
Never away from battle I fled,
Never away from my foes!
Let God dispose
Of my life in the fight!"

"Sound the horns!" said Olaf the King;
And suddenly through the drifting brume
The blare of the horns began to ring,
Like the terrible trumpet shock
Of Regnarock,
On the Day of Doom!

Louder and louder the war-horns sang
Over the level floor of the flood;
All the sails came down with a clang,
And there in the mist overhead
The sun hung red
As a drop of blood.

Drifting down on the Danish fleet
Three together the ships were lashed,
So that neither should turn and retreat;
In the midst, but in front of the rest
The burnished crest
Of the Serpent flashed.

King Olaf stood on the quarter-deck,
With bow of ash and arrows of oak,
His gilded shield was without a fleck,
His helmet inlaid with gold,
And in many a fold
Hung his crimson cloak.

On the forecastle Ulf the Red
Watched the lashing of the ships;
"If the Serpent lie so far ahead,
We shall have hard work of it here,"
Said he with a sneer
On his bearded lips.

King Olaf laid an arrow on string,
"Have I a coward on board?" said he.
"Shoot it another way, O King!"
Sullenly answered Ulf,
The old sea-wolf;
"You have need of me!"

In front came Svend, the King of the Danes,
Sweeping down with his fifty rowers;
To the right, the Swedish king with his thanes;
And on board of the Iron Beard
Earl Eric steered
To the left with his oars.

"These soft Danes and Swedes," said the King,
"At home with their wives had better stay,
Than come within reach of my Serpent's sting:
But where Eric the Norseman leads
Heroic deeds
Will be done to-day!"

Then as together the vessels crashed,
Eric severed the cables of hide,
With which King Olaf's ships were lashed,
And left them to drive and drift
With the currents swift
Of the outward tide.

Louder the war-horns growl and snarl,
Sharper the dragons bite and sting!
Eric the son of Hakon Jarl
A death-drink salt as the sea
Pledges to thee,
Olaf the King!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XIX: King Olaf’s War-Horns -

“It was Einar Tamberskelver
Stood beside the mast;
From his yew-bow, tipped with silver,
Flew the arrows fast;
Aimed at Eric unavailing,
As he sat concealed,
Half behind the quarter-railing,
Half behind his shield.

First an arrow struck the tiller,
Just above his head;
"Sing, O Eyvind Skaldaspiller,"
Then Earl Eric said.
"Sing the song of Hakon dying,
Sing his funeral wail!"
And another arrow flying
Grazed his coat of mail.

Turning to a Lapland yeoman,
As the arrow passed,
Said Earl Eric, "Shoot that bowman
Standing by the mast."
Sooner than the word was spoken
Flew the yeoman's shaft;
Einar's bow in twain was broken,
Einar only laughed.

"What was that?" said Olaf, standing
On the quarter-deck.
"Something heard I like the stranding
Of a shattered wreck."
Einar then, the arrow taking
From the loosened string,
Answered, "That was Norway breaking
From thy hand, O King!"

"Thou art but a poor diviner,"
Straightway Olaf said;
"Take my bow, and swifter, Einar,
Let thy shafts be sped."
Of his bows the fairest choosing,
Reached he from above;
Einar saw the blood-drops oozing
Through his iron glove.

But the bow was thin and narrow;
At the first assay,
O'er its head he drew the arrow,
Flung the bow away;
Said, with hot and angry temper
Flushing in his cheek,
"Olaf! for so great a Kmper
Are thy bows too weak!"

Then, with smile of joy defiant
On his beardless lip,
Scaled he, light and self-reliant,
Eric's dragon-ship.
Loose his golden locks were flowing,
Bright his armor gleamed;
Like Saint Michael overthrowing
Lucifer he seemed.”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XX: Einar Tamberskelver –

“All day has the battle raged,
All day have the ships engaged,
But not yet is assuaged
The vengeance of Eric the Earl.

The decks with blood are red,
The arrows of death are sped,
The ships are filled with the dead,
And the spears the champions hurl.

They drift as wrecks on the tide,
The grappling-irons are plied,
The boarders climb up the side,
The shouts are feeble and few.

Ah! never shall Norway again
See her sailors come back o'er the main;
They all lie wounded or slain,
Or asleep in the billows blue!

On the deck stands Olaf the King,
Around him whistle and sing
The spears that the foemen fling,
And the stones they hurl with their hands.

In the midst of the stones and the spears,
Kolbiorn, the marshal, appears,
His shield in the air he uprears,
By the side of King Olaf he stands.

Over the slippery wreck
Of the Long Serpent's deck
Sweeps Eric with hardly a check,
His lips with anger are pale;

He hews with his axe at the mast,
Till it falls, with the sails overcast,
Like a snow-covered pine in the vast
Dim forests of Orkadale.

Seeking King Olaf then,
He rushes aft with his men,
As a hunter into the den
Of the bear, when he stands at bay.

"Remember Jarl Hakon!" he cries;
When lo! on his wondering eyes,
Two kingly figures arise,
Two Olaf's in warlike array!

Then Kolbiorn speaks in the ear
Of King Olaf a word of cheer,
In a whisper that none may hear,
With a smile on his tremulous lip;

Two shields raised high in the air,
Two flashes of golden hair,
Two scarlet meteors' glare,
And both have leaped from the ship.

Earl Eric's men in the boats
Seize Kolbiorn's shield as it floats,
And cry, from their hairy throats,
"See! it is Olaf the King!"

While far on the opposite side
Floats another shield on the tide,
Like a jewel set in the wide
Sea-current's eddying ring.

There is told a wonderful tale,
How the King stripped off his mail,
Like leaves of the brown sea-kale,
As he swam beneath the main;

But the young grew old and gray,
And never, by night or by day,
In his kingdom of Norroway
Was King Olaf seen again!”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XXI: King Olaf’s Death-Drink –

“In the convent of Drontheim,
Alone in her chamber
Knelt Astrid the Abbess,
At midnight, adoring,
Beseeching, entreating
The Virgin and Mother.

She heard in the silence
The voice of one speaking,
Without in the darkness,
In gusts of the night-wind,
Now louder, now nearer,
Now lost in the distance.

The voice of a stranger
It seemed as she listened,
Of some one who answered,
Beseeching, imploring,
A cry from afar off
She could not distinguish.

The voice of Saint John,
The beloved disciple,
Who wandered and waited
The Master's appearance,
Alone in the darkness,
Unsheltered and friendless.

"It is accepted
The angry defiance,
The challenge of battle!
It is accepted,
But not with the weapons
Of war that thou wieldest!

"Cross against corselet,
Love against hatred,
Peace-cry for war-cry!
Patience is powerful;
He that o'ercometh
Hath power o'er the nations!

"As torrents in summer,
Half dried in their channels,
Suddenly rise, though the
Sky is still cloudless,
For rain has been falling
Far off at their fountains;

So hearts that are fainting
Grow full to o'erflowing,
And they that behold it
Marvel, and know not
That God at their fountains
Far off has been raining!

"Stronger than steel
Is the sword of the Spirit;
Swifter than arrows
The light of the truth is,
Greater than anger
Is love, and subdueth!

"Thou art a phantom,
A shape of the sea-mist,
A shape of the brumal
Rain, and the darkness
Fearful and formless;
Day dawns and thou art not!

"The dawn is not distant,
Nor is the night starless;
Love is eternal!
God is still God, and
His faith shall not fail us;
Christ is eternal!"”

- The Musician’s Tale: The Saga of King Olaf XXII: King Olaf’s Death-Drink –

What follows is the Ormurin Langi Ballad and Ormen Lange; the Norwegian equivalent. Both of these ballads are in their original languages Faroese and Norwegian respectively. There is a modern version of the Ormurin Langi ballad brought to song by the band Tr whom are from the Faroe Islands; their version of the ballad does have a rough English translation.

Ormurin Langi

1. Vilji tr hoyra kvi mtt,
vilji tr orum trugva,
um hann lav Trygvason,
og hagar skal rman sngva.

Glymur dansur hll,
dans sli ring:
Glair ra Noregsmenn
til Hildarting.

2. Kongurinn letur snekkju sma
har slttum sandi;
Ormurinn Langi strstur var,
sum gjrdist Noregis landi.

3. Knrrur var bygdur Noregis landi,
gott var honum evni:
tjan alin og fjruti
var kjlurinn millum stevna.

4. Gyltir vru bir stavnar,
borini vru bl;
gyltan skjld toppi hevi,
sum sgur ganga fr.

5. Kongurinn situr hsti,
talar vi snar dreingir:
"Vit skulu sigla tann salta sjgv,
ta havi eg hugsa leingi."

6. "Beri n fram tey herklir
vi brynjum og blonkum brandi,
sani leggi fr landi t,
og sigli fr Noregis landi."

7. Frir og glair sveinar mltu:
"Harri, vit skulu tr fylgja;
umenn t fert fri ella str,
vit ttast ei bratta bylgju."

8. Har kom maur bergi oman
vi sterkum boga hendi:
"Jarlurinn av Ringarki
hann meg higar sendi."

9. Kongurinn so til ora tekur
bi vi glei og gamni:
"Sig mr satt, t ungi maur,
hvat ert t nevndur navni?"

10. "Einar skalt t nevna meg;
vl kann boga spenna,
"Tambar" heitur mn menskur bogi,
rvar drvur at renna."

11. "Hoyr t ta, t ungi maur,
vilt t vi mr fara,
t skalt vera mn rvar-garpur
Orminn at forsvara."

12. Ganga teir til strandar oman,
rkir menn og reystir,
lunnar brustu og jrin skalv:
teir drgu knrr r neysti.

13. Vundu upp sni silkisegl,
t havi ganga;
so er sagt, at kongurinn
hann strdi Orminum langa.

-- -- --

14. Hetta frttist va um land,
at Noregis menn teir sigldu;
Danimarks kongur og Svrkis kongur
rini saman hildu.

15. Danimark kongur og Svrkis kongur
ganga saman r,
hvussu teir skuldu Noregis kong
skjtt av dgum f.

16. Senda bo til Eirik Jarl,
- vnur er borin til evna.
"Hann skal fylgja ferini vi,
sn fairs dey at hevna."

17. Eirikur gongur for kongar inn
vi brynju og reyum skjoldi;
"lavur kongur av Noregi
mn fairs deya voldi."

18. Jarlurinn stendur hallarglvi,
blankt bar spjt hendi;
"lavur kongur sggja skal,
eg hvast mt hvssum vendi."

19. Ganga teir til strandar oman,
- fagurt var ta li -
Danimarks kongur og Svrkis kongur,
og Eirikur jarl tann trii.

20. Trggir gingu skipaflotar
t av Oyrasundi;
Jarnbardur odda sigldi,
jarlurinn stra kundi.

21. Danimark kongur til ora tekur,
letur so orini greia:
"Hann, i Orminn langa tekur,
skal hann vi ognum eiga."

22. Eirikur hugsar vi sjlvum sr:
"T at t manst ta royna,
t vinnur ikki Ormin langa
vi danskari makt aleina."

23. Mlti ta Svrkis kongurinn,
hann helt brndum knvi:
"Eg skal Ormin langa taka,
ella lata lvi."

24. Eirikur stendur breium bunka,
klddur skarlak reya:
"T tekur ikki Orminn langa,
fyrr sggi eg tn deya."

25. Eirikur talar til snar menn:
"Kempum munu tit mta;
stani vl og manniliga,
t blug verur gta."

26. Noregis menn kongins knrri
kunna vl beita knvi;
gangi vl fram hrum stri,
ella vit lata lvi."

27. Eirikur talar til Finn hin ltla:
"T skalt hj mr standa;
t skalt verja sjlvan meg,
umenn eg komi vanda."

28. Lgdu teir sundi t;
bau teir har leingi;
longdust eftir norskum knrrum,
at berjast mt Noregis kongi.

29. Lgdu teir skip vi oynni inn,
tlau sr at vinna;
hildu vakt bi ntt og dag,
Normenn vildu teir finna.

-- -- --

30. N skal ltta lji av,
eg kvi ei longur sinni;
n skal taka upp annan ttt;
dreingir, leggi minni!

31. lavur siglir Eysturhavi,
tlar heim at fara;
t i hann kom Oyrasund,
hann sr ein skipa-skara.

32. Hvdingar trggir landi standa,
hyggja t so va,
sunnan sggja teir knrrinn pra
eftir havi skra.

33. Danimarks kongur til ora tekur:
"Alt mr vl skal ganga;
Krist signi mni eygu tv,
n sggi eg Orminn langa."

34. Eirikur st har skamt fr,
talar til snar menn:
"Kongurinn av Danimark
hann sr ikki Orminn enn."

35. Har kom fram ein strri knrrur,
dreingir undraust ;
Svrkis kongur til jarlin talar:
"N man eg Orminn sj."

36. "Leggi n skip fr landi t,
rar hendur taka;
lati ei lav sleppa so;
fan hann heldur sn maka."

37. Eirikur hyggur havi t,
talar til snar menn:
"Ta svrji eg vi sannan Gud,
teir sggja ei Orminn enn."

38. Danimarks kongur og Svrkis kongur
halda skefti reya:
"Eirikur jarlur rddur er
at hevna sn fairs deya."

39. Vreiur var t jarlurinn,
hann mlir av illum sinni:
"Anna skal eg enn orabrask
Noregis menn at vinna."

40. Eirikur stendur grnum vlli,
tekur n til at ganga;
"Veri n snarir skipa-bunka,
n sggi eg Orminn langa."

41. Allir su t Orminn koma,
allir undrast hann,
av silki vru seglini
r stevni gulli rann.

42. Lgdu teir seg veginn fram
bi vi svrum og spjti,
Normenn su Orminum,
teir ivast at halda mti.

43. lavur talar til snar menn:
"Drt skulu teir meg keypa,
ongan t t rddist eg str,
dag skal eg ikki leypa."

44. "Leggi n skip stri fram,
segl bunka strka,
ta skal sggjast, at Noregis menn
teir kunna vl svrini brka."

45. lvur reyi stavni stendur;
gott var honum evni:
"Leggi ei Orminn longri fram,
enn hann hevur longri stevni."

46. Kongurinn stendur lyfting aftur;
skarlak var hann klddur.
"N sggi eg, mn stavna-maur
er bi reyur og rddur."

47. "Kongur,t sst meg aldri so rddan,
eg tordi vl at herja,
goym t lyfting so vl dag,
sum eg skal stavnin verja."

48. Vreiur var t kongurinn;
lvur til ora tekur:
"Blka teg aftur, harri mn,
t vreii upp angur vekur."

49. lavur stendur bunkanum,
talar til snar menn:
"Hvr eigir hesi ngvu skip?
Eg kenni tey ikki enn."

50. Svarai Torkil, kongsins brir,
mlir av tungum inna:
"Danimarks kongur og Svrkis kongur
vilja tn deya vinna."

51. "Rddir eru danskir menn
mt Normonnum at ganga;
betri var teimum heima at siti
tann fuglaflokk at fanga."

52. "Betur kunna svenskir menn
teir offurbollar strka,
enn nrkast okkum so,
at blugt svr skal rka."

53. lavur gekk lyfting upp,
rur hann upp at hyggja:
"Hvr eigir hesi stru skip,
vi Ormsins bakbor liggja?"

54. Svarai Herningur, kongsins svgur,
letur so orini falla:
"Tey eigir Eirikur Hkunsson,
hann ber ein yvir allar."

55. T svarai lavur kongur,
fr man frttast va:
"Skarpur verur Hildar leikur,
t Normenn mt norskum stra."

56. Svrkis kongur mt lavi legi
eina morgun-t,
ta var sum bl at lta,
skeiir dundu .

57. Hgdu og stungu Noregis menn
bi vi svri og spjti;
ttt so fullu teir svensku menn,
sum grasi fkur av grti.

58. Svrkis kongur rpar htt,
biur teir undan flggja:
"Eg havi mist mtt mesta flk,
ta voldi mr sorg at sggja."

59. Danimarks kongur trokai fram,
tlai sr at vinna,
Normenn tku mt honum fast,
teir donsku menn at tynna.

60. Roykur st til skggja upp,
reytt var sund at sggja,
so var sagt, at danskir menn
teir mttu undan flggja.

61. Eirikur leggur mt "Ormi" fram
vi bjrtum brandi hendi:
"Ikki skal lavur rsa av,
at eg snart fr honum vendi."

62. Lgdu teir knrr vi knarrar-bor,
hvrgin vildi flggja;
hvur og kroppar havi tumla,
iligt var at sggja.

63. Einar stendur kappa-rmi
vi Tambar-boga, teir kalla;
hvrja fer plur av boga dreiv,
t mtti ein maur falla.

64. Einar spenti Tambar-boga;
plurinn steingin strongdi;
plur fleyg yvir jarlsins hvur,
rur-knappin sprongdi.

65. Einar spenti rum sinni,
tlai jarl at fella;
plur fleyg millum arm og su;
einki var jarli at bella.

66. Eirikur talar til Finn hin ltla:
"Eg skal spyrja teg naka;
hvr er hann, vi skrpum skotum
tlai meg at raka?"

67. Til ta svarai Finnur hin ltli
- blugar vru hendur -:
"Ta er hasin stri maur,
krappa-rmi stendur."

68. Jarlurinn mlir rum sinni:
"Ta vil eg tr ra;
skjt t handa stra mann;
n stendur mtt lv va."

69. "Manninum kann eg einki gera,
t hann er ikki feigur;
boga-streingin stilli eg ,
t maurinn eydnu eigir."

70. Einar spenti trija sinni,
tlai jarl at raka;
t brast strongur av stli stinna;
boganum tk at braka.

71. Allir hoyrdu streinginn springa;
kongurinn seg forundrar:
"Hvat er ta mnum skipi,
so gviliga dundrar?"

72. Svarai Einar Tambar-skelvir
- kastar boga sn -:
"N brast Noregi r tnum hondum,
kongurinn, harri mn."

73. " Harrans hond mtt rki stendur
og ikki Tambar-boga;
tak tr ein av mnum bogum,
vita, hvat teir duga."

74. "Veikir eru kongsins bogar."
Einar rur at svara;
"eg skal taka upp skjld og svr;
hgg skal eg ikki spara."

75. Enn st flk bum stavnum,
man eg rtt um minnast;
syrgiligt var mijum skipi,
har tk flk at tynnast.

76. Eirikur sprakk Orminn upp,
vl bar brand hendi,
Herningur leyp r lyfting niur,
aftur mt honum vendi.

77. Bardust teir mijum skipi,
vil eg fr t greia;
vugur mtti jarlurinn leypa
aftur Jarnbrad breia.

78. Jarlurinn valdi sr reystar garpar;
fir finnast slkir,
snarliga aftur Ormin sprakk,
t mtti Herningur vkja.

79. lvur reyi r stavni leypur,
n er stavnur eyur,
so fleyt bl Orminum,
at knrrur sndist reyur.

80. Hart st str mijum skipi;
svr mt skjldum gella,
lvur og Einar, frgar kempur,
Eiriks garpar fella.

81. Eirikur var rum sinni
aftur bunkan rikin;
t s hann, at stavnurinn
Orminum var tikin.

82. Jarlurinn mannar seg triju fer;
n skal ikki dvna;
t fell lvur og Herningur
vi llum dreingjum snum.

83. Kongurinn rpar lyftingini:
"N er tap hendi;
leypi havi, mnir menn!
her verur ei gur endi."

84. Kongurinn leyp havi t,
garpar eftir fylgdu,
kongsins brir sstur var;
teir gjrdu, sum kongurinn vildi.

85. Eirikur fekk t Orminn langa;
eingin annar kundi,
tk hann sjlvur rur hond
og strdi "Orm" fr sundi.

Original text in Faroese from Froysk kvi by Jannes Patursson, 1925

Ormen Lange

Vilja de hyra kvedet mitt, og vilja de ordi tru?
Om han Olav Tryggvason skal songen her seg snu.

Ref: Dansen glyme i halli, s dansa me d i ring!
Glada ridar Noregs menn til Hildar-ting.

Kongen let seg ei snekkje byggja bort p den slette sand.
Ormen den lange, det strste skip som bygdest i Noregs land.

Skipet det bygdest i Noregs land utav dei beste emnom,
sytti alner og fire til var kjlen imellom stemnom.

Forgylte s vro dei stamnane be, bordi dei vro bl.
Forgylte skjoden i toppen blenkte, - s sier soga ifr.

Kongen uti hgstet sit, talar til sine drenger:
"No skal me sigla den salte sj, det heve eg tenkt s lenge!

Bere no d dei herkledi fram, dei brynjor og blanke sverdi!
S leggja med sidan fr landet ut, s gjeva me oss p ferdi"

Modige mlte dei sveinane d: "Herre, me skal deg fylgja,
anten du fer i strid eller fred. Me ottast 'kje svarte bylgja!"

Fr berget ein gut med bogen i hand steig ned s raust sj:
"Jarlen utav Ringerike s skal eg helsa ifr"

Kongen d til orde tok, fagnad i augo skein:
" no skal du seia meg namnet ditt, du unge, frge svein!"

"Einar s skal du nemna meg; vel kan eg bogen spenna,
og Tamb s heiter min glupe boge, han fr vel pili til renna!"

"Hyr du det, du unge mann, vil du med meg fara,
s skal du vera min pile-svein, Ormen til forsvara"

Ganga dei s til strandi ned sprke karar og rauste.
- Lunnane brosto og jarni skalv d skipet dei drog or nauste.

Vundo dei opp sine silkesegl, vinden taka i fanget.
- Og s er det sagt at kongen sjlv han styrde "Ormen lange".

Norwegian translation by Per Sivle 1857-1904

Tr’s version:

1. Vilji tr hoyra kvi mtt,
vilj tr orum trgva,
um hann lav Trygvason,
hagar skal rman sngva.

Niurlag: ⇒
Glymur dansur hll,
dans sli ring
Glair ra Noregs menn
til Hildar ting.[* Hild ="fighter", name of a Valkyrie]

3. Knrrur var gjrdur Noregs landi,
gott var honum evni:
sjti alin og fra til
var kjlurin millum stevni

8. Har kom maur oman
vi sterkum boga hendi:
“ Jallurin av Ringarki
hann meg higar sendi. ”

10. “ Einar skalt t nevna meg,
vl kann boga spenna,
Tambar eitur mn menski bogi,
rvar drvur at renna. ”

11. “ Hoyr t ta, t ungi maur,
vilt t vi mr fara,
t skalt vera mn rvargarpur
Ormin at forsvara. ”

12. Gingu teir til strandar oman,
rkir menn og reystir,
lunnar brustu og jrin skalv:
teir drgu knrr r neysti.

71. Einar spenti tria sinni,
tlar jall at raka,
t brast strongur av stli stinna,
boganum tkst at braka.

72. Allir hoyrdi strongin springa,
kongurin seg undrar:
“ Hvat er ta mnum skipi,
sum gvuliga dundrar ? ”

73. Svarai Einar Tambarskelvir
kastar boga sn
“ N brast Noregi r tnum hondum,
kongurin, harri mn ! ”

# N skal ltta lji av
eg kvi ei longur sinni
n skal taka upp annan ttt
dreingir leggi minni

1. Will you hear the ballad of mine,
Will you my words believe,
About Olaf Tryggvasson,
Here's how the rhyme revolves.

Refrain:

Raucous dance in the Hall,
Dance, form a ring,
Gladly ride Norway's men,
To the Hild's[War]-Gathering† .

3. A ship was made in Norway's land,
Goodly make was she:
Seventy ells and four lengthwise
The keel from [prow to] stern

8. Here comes a man down [from the hill]
With a sturdy bow in hand:
“ The Jarl of Ringarki [*Hringarki]
Has here sent me. ”

10. “ Einar shall you call me,
Well can I stretch the bow,
Tambar [*"Stretcher"] hight my manly bow,
For striving at shooting arrows. ”

11. “ Listen here, young man,
Will you fare away with me?
You shall be my champion-arrower,
The Serpent, [my longship,] to defend. ”

12. They come down on the strand,
Doughty men and strong,
The rails break and the earth shakes:
They tug the ship from the shipyard.

71. Einar drew a third time,
Meaning to strike the Jarl,
Then burst the string of sturdy steel,
In the bow it seemed to break.
[* Jarl Erik's archer has shot Einar's bow]

72. All heard the string snap,
The king said in wonder:
“ What's that making my ship,
Rumble so dreadfully? ”

73. Answered Einar Tambarskelvir [*Einarr ambarskelfir] Casting the bow of his
“ That was Norway breaking from your hand,
King sire, lord of mine ! ”
[* A lost cause. Olav will soon plunge himself in the sea.]

# Now I will let up this song awhile,
I'll recount not longer this time
So I shall take up the second tale,
And may it be remembered far and wide.

† Hild's gathering. Hild is a common female name, but also means "Battle" or "Fighter". Here, Hild might be taken as the name of one of the Valkyries. Brynhild used to be called Hild when she used to be a valkyrie, according to "Brynhild's Hell-Ride".

Hild is also the name of the princess who eloped with Hethinn and thus caused the Hjathning war (Skaldskaparml 49) [Hild's Ring was an armlet that she brought to her father as a peace-offering; however some critics interpret this as an insult inferring passive homosexuality.

by Noil

 


2008 Vlusp.org | 2008 Articles, Analysis and Artwork to their respective creators
Eddas, Sagas and Folklore Public Domain