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Egil recites the poem.

        King Eric went to table according to his wont, and much people were with him. And when Arinbjorn knew this, then went he with all his followers fully armed to the king's palace while the king sate at table. Arinbjorn craved entrance into the hall; it was granted. He and Egil went in with half of his followers, but the other half stood without before the door. Arinbjorn saluted the king; the king received him well. Arinbjorn spoke: 'Here now is come Egil. He has not sought to run away in the night. Nor would we fain know, my lord, what his lot is to be. I hope thou wilt let him get good from my words, for I think it a matter of great moment to me that Egil gain terms from thee. I have so acted (as was right) that neither in word nor deed have I spared aught whereby thy honour should be made greater than before. I have also abandoned all my possessions, kinsmen, and friends that I had in Norway, and followed thee when all other barons deserted thee; and herein do I what is meet, for thou hast often done great good to me.'
        Then spoke Gunnhilda: 'Cease, Arinbjorn, nor prate so at length of this. Thou hast done much good to king Eric, and this he hath fully rewarded. Thou owest far more duty to king Eric than to Egil. It is not for thee to ask that Egil go unpunished hence from king Eric's presence, seeing what crimes he hath wrought.'
        Then said Arinbjorn: 'If thou, O king, and thou Gunnhilda, if ye two have resolved that Egil shall here get no terms, then is this the manly course, to give him respite and leave to go for a week, that he may look out for himself; of his own free will any way he came hither to seek you, and therefore hoped for peace. Thereafter, this done, let your dealings together end as they may.'
        Gunnhilda said, 'Well can I see by this, Arinbjorn, that thou art more faithful to Egil than to king Eric. If Egil is to ride hence for a week, then will he in this time be come to king Athelstan. But king Eric cannot now hide this from himself, that every king is now stronger than is he, whereas a little while ago it had been deemed incredible that king Eric would not have the will and energy to avenge his wrongs on such a one as Egil.'
        Said Arinbjorn: 'No one will call Eric a greater man for slaying a yeoman's son, a foreigner, who has freely come into his power. But if the king wishes to achieve greatness hereby, then will I help him in this, so that these tidings shall be thought more worthy of record; for I and Egil will now back each other, so that we must both be met at once. Thou wilt then, O king, dearly buy the life of Egil, when we be all laid dead on the field, I and my followers. Far other treatment should I have expected of thee, than that thou wouldst prefer seeing me laid dead on the earth to granting me the boon I crave of one man's life.'
        Then answered the king: 'A wondrous eager champion art thou, Arinbjorn, in this thy helping of Egil. Loth were I to do thee scathe, if it comes to this; if thou wilt rather give away thine own life than that he be slain. But sufficient are the charges against Egil, whatever I cause to be done with him.'
        And when the king had said this, then Egil advanced before him and began the poem, and recited in a loud voice, and at once won silence.


'Westward I sailed the wave,
Within me Odin gave
The sea of song I bear
(So 'tis my wont to fare):
I launched my floating oak
When loosening ice-floes broke,
My mind a galleon fraught
With load of minstrel thought.

'A prince doth hold me guest,
Praise be his due confess'd:
Of Odin's mead let draught
In England now be quaff'd.
Laud bear I to the king,
Loudly his honour sing;
Silence I crave around,
My song of praise is found.

'Sire, mark the tale I tell,
Such heed beseems thee well;
Better I chaunt my strain,
If stillness hush'd I gain.
The monarch's wars in word
Widely have peoples heard,
But Odin saw alone
Bodies before him strown.

'Swell'd of swords the sound
Smiting bucklers round,
Fiercely waxed the fray,
Forward the king made way.
Struck the ear (while blood
Streamed from glaives in flood)
Iron hailstorm's song,
Heavy, loud and long.

'Lances, a woven fence,
Well-ordered bristle dense;
On royal ships in line
Exulting spearmen shine.
Soon dark with bloody stain
Seethed there an angry main,
With war-fleet's thundering sound,
With wounds and din around.

'Of men many a rank
Mid showering darts sank:
Glory and fame
Gat Eric's name.

'More may yet be told,
An men silence hold:
Further feats and glory,
Fame hath noised in story.
Warriors' wounds were rife,
Where the chief waged strife;
Shivered swords with stroke
On blue shield-rims broke.

'Breast-plates ringing crashed,
Burning helm-fire flashed,
Biting point of glaive
Bloody wound did grave.
Odin's oaks (they say)
In that iron-play
Baldric's crystal blade
Bowed and prostrate laid.

'Spears crossing dashed,
Sword-edges clashed:
Glory and fame
Gat Eric's name.

'Red blade the king did wield,
Ravens flocked o'er the field.
Dripping spears flew madly,
Darts with aim full deadly.
Scotland's scourge let feed
Wolf, the Ogress' steed:
For erne of downtrod dead
Dainty meal was spread.

'Soared battle-cranes
O'er corse-strown lanes,
Found flesh-fowl's bill
Of blood its fill.
While deep the wound
He delves, around
Grim raven's beak
Blood-fountains break.

'Axe furnished feast
For Ogress' beast:
Eric on the wave
To wolves flesh-banquet gave.

'Javelins flying sped,
Peace affrighted fled;
Bows were bent amain,
Wolves were battle-fain:
Spears in shivers split,
Sword-teeth keenly bit;
Archers' strings loud sang,
Arrows forward sprang.

'He back his buckler flings
From arm beset with rings,
Sword-play-stirrer good,
Spiller of foemen's blood.
Waxing everywhere
(Witness true I bear),
East o'er billows came
Eric's sounding name.

'Bent the king his yew,
Bees wound-bearing flew:
Eric on the wave
To wolves flesh-banquet gave.

'Yet to make more plain
I to men were fain
High-soul'd mood of king,
But must swiftly sing.
Weapons when he takes,
The battle-goddess wakes,
On ships' shielded side
Streams the battle-tide.

'Gems from wrist he gives,
Glittering armlets rives:
Lavish ring-despiser
Loves not hoarding miser.
Frodi's flour of gold
Gladdens rovers bold;
Prince bestoweth scorning
Pebbles hand-adorning.

'Foemen might not stand
For his deathful brand;
Yew-bow loudly sang,
Sword-blades meeting rang.
Lances aye were cast,
Still he the land held fast,
Proud Eric prince renowned;
And praise his feats hath crowned.

'Monarch, at thy will
Judge my minstrel skill:
Silence thus to find
Sweetly cheered my mind.
Moved my mouth with word
From my heart's ground stirred,
Draught of Odin's wave
Due to warrior brave.

'Silence I have broken,
A sovereign's glory spoken:
Words I knew well-fitting
Warrior-council sitting.
Praise from heart I bring,
Praise to honoured king:
Plain I sang and clear
Song that all could hear.'


Next: CHAPTER LXIV. Egil's life is given him.