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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

Original: "Nornagests þáttr", Faroese ballad (43 stanzas). Referring to myths from the 9th century,
put to rhyme probably in the 14th century, it was written down 1851 by V. U. Hammershaimb
in the New Faroese language (in FÆRÖISKE KVÆDER).

Translation from: Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer: A Faroëse Ballad-Cycle, E.M. Smith-Dampier, 1934.
Transkription by courtesy of Kiyo.  Kiyo´s Repository of Myhos & Poesy

The Rime of Nornagest

Burden (refrain):
Good rede indeed dost thou need in peril:
When a swain doeth so.

1.
OF Nornagest the tale is told,
Good rede indeed dost thou need in peril—
Comrade he of warriors bold,
—When a swain doeth so.
2.
Oxen twelve in the mart they buy,
& lead them up to the castle high.
3.
The King was fain those beasts to fell,
With such a fighter the work went well.
4.
So mightily did the monarch hew
That the blood drove out of the wound like dew.
5.
Straight those oxen dead did fall,
& the axe stuck fast in the wooden stall.
6.
All men praised that stroke so true,
Which drove the blood from the wound like dew.
7.
An ancient carle he joined the train,
Who steadied his steps on crutches twain.
8.
Up spake the King so blithe & free:
‘ And hast thou no word of praise for me?
9.
‘ Thy stroke was worthy a warrior,
But a stronger knew I in days of yore.
10.
‘ Hast heard of Sigurd the Bold, I wis;
Never was prowess like to his!
11.
‘ The world was shaken with the wonder
When Sigurd hewed the Worm asunder. ’
12.
'Now tell thy tale of than valiant swain,
Whose like will never be seen again! ’
13.
‘ Oh deeds of Sigurd did I behold
Whereof the like hath ne'er been told.
14.
‘ All earth was shaken, upper & under,
When Sigurd hewed the Worm asunder.
15.
‘ Høgni was a warrior free,
Foul of face as man might be;
16.
‘ Gunnar, like to Gjúki's Queen,
Was strong & bold & blithe of mien,
17.
‘ Strong & bold & blithe of mien,
Not soon will his like in land be seen!
18.
‘ A peaceful dwelling had father mine,
With store of steeds & store of kine.
19.
‘ I warded our steeds 'neath greenwood tree,
& I saw in saddle those warriors three,
20.
‘ Gunnar & Høgni & Sigurd swain,
Whose like will never be seen again.
21.
‘ Home they fared to house & hold,
Gunnar & Høgni & Sigurd bold,
22.
‘ And they leapt a dyke the mires among;
I saw it all when these eyes were young.
23.
‘ Gunnar's steed leapt far & wide,
Well could Gunnar joust & ride!
24.
‘ Høgni's steed leapt lightly then,
But Grane fell in the miry fen.
25.
‘ Yea, last of all leapt Sigurd's steed,
Ever was wont to be good at need,
26.
‘ Yet Grane in the fen stuck fast,
& his saddle-girth asunder brast.
27.
‘ Straight from saddle sprang they down,
All to save the steed were boun;
28.
‘ Gunnar & Høgni & Sigurd swain
Tugged at Grane's bridle-rein.
29.
‘ Oft have I ridden this road aright,
Both by day & darksome night!
30.
‘ Gestur, thy service I desire
To cleanse my steed from mud & mire.
31.
‘ The buckle that brast when I was thrown,
I'll give thee, Gestur, for thine own. ’
32.
‘ Down to a river did we ride,
Where never a man was seen beside.
33.
‘ I washed his croup & breast-plate there,
His houghs & hoofs, till all was fair.
34.
‘ I cleansed him all from mud & mire,
& Sigurd took me as his Squire.
35.
‘ We rode to Fávni's lair eftsoon,
Where gold shone bright as sun at noon.
36.
‘ A hair I took from that steed so free,
White as silver, & fair to see.
37.
‘ A hair I took from that steed so true,
Which measured a fathom & more therto.
38.
‘ Wide have I wandered this world around,
Yet my light & life I ne'er have found! ’
39.
A ship did the King on that carle bestow,
& told him the way that he must go.
40.
‘ In Frankland is a water wide,
Thy light & life are there beside. ’
41.
Deep he dived, that courteous wight,
Or ever he found the matchless light.
42.
By Körnar the Priest was he sained & signed,
& he lived his life while the fair light shined.
43.
But when the light to an end was brent,
His life & living alike were spent.

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