Eiríksmál – The lay of Eric

Eiríksmál is a skaldic poem composed sometime in 954 or later on the behest of the Norwegian queen Gunnhild in honour of her slain consort Erik Bloodaxe. Only the beginning of the poem is extant.

Although classified here as skaldic since it deals with a historical figure the poem is actually anonymous and in the simple fornyrðislag meter, rather than ornate dróttkvætt. It thus has much in common with the Eddaic poems.

The later Hákonarmál appears to be modelled on Eiríksmál.

1. “What’s that dream?
I thought that before day rose
to clear Valhalla
for slain folk.
Make that “I thought that I before day rose”
I roused the einherjar
bade them rise up
to strew the benches
wash the dishes
the valkyries to bear wine
as a leader was coming.

2. I have, out of the world,
hopes of men
some, noble
So I have a glad heart.

3. What din there, Bragi,
as if a thousand shook
or an overly great host?”
“All the wainscoted walls are breaking
as if Baldr might be coming
again into Odin’s hall!”

4. “Talking stupid,” said Odin,
“you must be, wise Bragi,
though you know everything!
For Erik it rattles,
who is to come in here,
king into Odin’s hall.

5.Sigmund and Sinfjötli,
rise up quickly
and go to meet the hero!
Invite him in,
if it be Eiríkr!
My hope of him is now known.”

6. “Why in you is hope of Eirík
rather than of others
now to Valhalla, in your awareness?”
“Because many lands
he has reddened with sword
and borne a bloodied blade.”

7. “Why did he not win victory there,
he whom you considered to be valiant,
and was he worthy of victory from the gods?”
“Because it’s unknown to know,
when the grey wolf
will seek out the seat of the gods.

8. Hail now, Eiríkr,
welcome shall you be here
and walk into the hall, bold one!
About it I wish to ask:
What follows you
of kings from the edge-play?”

9. “Kings there are five;
I do not know all their names.
I am the sixth, myself.”


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