The Chronicle of The Kings of Norway

by Snorri Sturlson | c.1179-1241 | 320,198 words

The "Heimskringla" of Snorri Sturlason is a collection of sagas concerning the various rulers of Norway, from about A.D. 850 to the year A.D. 1177....

Part 220 - Of Thormod Kolbrunarskald

This night the king lay with his army around him on the field, as before related, and lay long awake in prayer to God, and slept but little. Towards morning a slumber fell on him, and when he awoke daylight was shooting up. The king thought it too early to awaken the army, and asked where Thormod the skald was.

Thormod was at hand, and asked what was the king's pleasure.

"Sing us a song,"

said the king. Thormod raised himself up, and sang so loud that the whole army could hear him.

He began to sing the old "Bjarkamal", of which these are the first verses: —

"The day is breaking, —
The house cock, shaking
His rustling wings,
While priest-bell rings,
Crows up the morn,
And touting horn
Wakes thralls to work and weep;
Ye sons of Adil, cast off sleep,
Wake up! wake up!
Nor wassail cup,
Nor maiden's jeer,
Awaits you here.
Hrolf of the bow!
Har of the blow!
Up in your might! the day is breaking;
'Tis Hild's game [1] that bides your waking."

Then the troops awoke, and when the song was ended the people thanked him for it; and it pleased many, as it was suitable to the time and occasion, and they called it the house-carle's whet. The king thanked him for the pleasure, and took a gold ring that weighed half a mark and gave it him. Thormod thanked the king for the gift, and said,

"We have a good king; but it is not easy to say how long the king's life may be. It is my prayer, sire, that thou shouldst never part from me either in life or death."

The king replies,

"We shall all go together so long as I rule, and as ye will follow me."

Thormod says,

"I hope, sire, that whether in safety or danger I may stand near you as long as I can stand, whatever we may hear of Sigvat travelling with his gold-hilted sword."

Then Thormod made these lines: —

"To thee, my king, I'll still be true,
Until another skald I view,
Here in the field with golden sword,
As in thy hall, with flattering word.
Thy skald shall never be a craven,
Though he may feast the croaking raven,
The warrior's fate unmoved I view, —
To thee, my king, I'll still be true."

Footnotes and references:


Hild's game is the battle, from the name of the war-goddess Hild. — L.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: