Sacred Texts  Sagas & Legends  Index  Previous  Next 

CHAPTER LXXXII.

Hacon's wars and death. Poem on Arinbjorn.

Long time did Egil dwell at Borg, and became an old man. But it is not told that he had lawsuits with any here in the land; nor is there a word of single combats, or war and slaughter of his after he settled down here in Iceland. They say that Egil never went abroad out of Iceland after the events already related. And for this the main cause was that Egil might not be in Norway, by reason of the charges which (as has been told before) the kings there deemed they had against him. He kept house in munificent style, for there was no lack of money, and his disposition led him to munificence.
King Hacon, Athelstan's foster-son, long ruled over Norway; but in the latter part of his life Eric's sons came to Norway and strove with him for the kingdom; and they had battles together, wherein Hacon ever won the victory. The last battle was fought in Hordaland, on Stord-island, at Fitjar: there king Hacon won the victory, but also got his death-wound. After that Egil's sons took the kingdom in Norway.
Lord Arinbjorn was with Harold Eric's son, and was made his counsellor, and had of him great honours. He was commander of his forces and defender of the land. A great warrior was Arinbjorn, and a victorious. He was governor of the Firth folk. Egil Skallagrimsson heard these tidings of the change of kings in Norway, and therewith how Arinbjorn had returned to his estates in Norway, and was there in great honour. Then Egil composed a poem about Arinbjorn, whereof this is the beginning:

ARINBJORN'S EPIC, OR A PART THEREOF.

                                                1.
                                'For generous prince
                                Swift praise I find,
                                But stint my words
                                To stingy churl.
                                Openly sing I
                                Of king's true deeds,
                                But silence keep
                                On slander's lies.

                                                2.
                                'For fabling braggarts
                                Full am I of scorn,
                                But willing speak I
                                Of worthy friends:
                                Courts I of monarchs
                                A many have sought,
                                A gallant minstrel
                                Of guileless mood.

                                                3.
                                'Erewhile the anger
                                Of Yngling's son
                                I bore, prince royal
                                Of race divine.
                                With hood of daring
                                O'er dark locks drawn
                                A lord right noble
                                I rode to seek.

                                                4.
                                'There sate in might
The monarch strong,
With helm of terror
High-throned and dread;
A king unbending
With bloody blade
Within York city
Wielded he power.

                                                5.
                                'That moon-like brightness
Might none behold,
Nor brook undaunted
Great Eric's brow:
As fiery serpent
His flashing eyes
Shot starry radiance
Stern and keen.

                                                6.
                                'Yet I to this ruler
Of fishful seas
My bolster-mate's ransom
Made bold to bear,
Of Odin's goblet
O'erflowing dew
Each listening ear-mouth
Eagerly drank.

                                                7.
                                'Not beauteous in seeming
My bardic fee
To ranks of heroes
In royal hall:
When I my hood-knoll
Wolf-gray of hue
For mead of Odin
From monarch gat.

                                                8.
                                'Thankful I took it,
And therewithal
The pit-holes black
Of my beetling brows;
Yea and that mouth
That for me bare
The poem of praise
To princely knees.

                                                9.
                                'Tooth-fence took I,
And tongue likewise,
Ears' sounding chambers
And sheltering eaves.
And better deemed I
Than brightest gold
The gift then given
By glorious king.

                                                10.
                                'There a staunch stay
Stood by my side,
One man worth many
Of meaner wights,
Mine own true friend
Whom trusty I found,
High-couraged ever
In counsels bold.

                                                11.
                                'Arinbjorn
Alone us savedó
Foremost of championsó
From fury of king;
Friend of the monarch
He framed no lies
Within that palace
Of warlike prince.

                                                12.
                                'Of the stay of our house
Still spake he truth,
(While much he honoured
My hero-deeds)
Of the son of Kveldulf,
Whom fair-haired king
Slew for a slander,
But honoured slain.

                                                13.
                                'Wrong were it if he
                                Who wrought me good,
                                Gold-splender lavish,
                                Such gifts had cast
                                To the wasteful tract
                                Of the wild sea-mew,
                                To the surge rough-ridden
                                By sea-kings' steeds.

                                                14.
                                'False to my friend
Were I fairly called,
An untrue steward
Of Odin's cup;
Of praise unworthy,
Pledge-breaker vile,
If I for such good
Gave nought again.

                                                15.
                                'Now better seeth
The bard to climb
With feet poetic
The frowning steep,
And set forth open
In sight of all
The laud and honour
Of high-born chief.

                                                16.
                                'Now shall my voice-plane
Shape into song
Virtues full many
Of valiant friend.
Ready on tongue
Twofold they lie,
Yea, threefold praises
Of Thorir's son.

                                                17.
                                'First tell I forth
What far is known,
Openly bruited
In ears of all;
How generous of mood
Men deem this lord,
Bjorn of the hearth-fire
The birchwood's bane.

                                                18.
                                'Folk bear witness
With wond'ring praise,
How to all guests
Good gifts he gives:
For Bjorn of the hearth-stone
Is blest with store
Freely and fully
By Frey and Njord.

                                                19.
                                'To him, high scion
Of Hroald's tree,
Fulness of riches
Flowing hath come;
And friends ride thither
In thronging crowd
By all wide ways
'Neath windy heaven.

                                                20.
                                'Above his ears
Around his brow
A coronal fair,
As a king, he wore.
Beloved of gods,
Beloved of men,
The warrior's friend,
The weakling's aid.

                                                21.
                                'That mark he hitteth
That most men miss;
Though money they gather,
This many lack:
For few be the bounteous
And far between,
Nor easily shafted
Are all men's spears.

                                                22.
                                'Out of the mansion
Of Arinbjorn,
When guested and rested
In generous wise,
None with hard jest,
None with rude jeer,
None with his axe-hand
Ungifted hie.

                                                23.
                                'Hater of money
Is he of the Firths,
A foe to the gold-drops
Of Draupnir born.
. . . . .

                                                24.
                                'Rings he scatters,
Riches he squanders,
Of avarice thievish
An enemy still.
. . . . .

                25.
'Long course of life
His lot hath been,
By battles broken,
Bereft of peace.
. . . . .

                26.
'Early waked I,
Word I gathered,
Toiled each morning
With speech-moulding tongue.
A proud pile built I
Of praise long-lasting
To stand unbroken
In Bragi's town.'


Next: CHAPTER LXXXIII. Of Einar Helgi's son and Egil.