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Ode to Arinbjorn

 

I did not travel much after Bodvar died. I would get an urge to go to Norway but I knew I was not welcome there any longer. Every time I thought about the fighting and the battles that I would have to endure it took the edge off my wanderlust.

And another thing; this farming is a lot of fun. The workers are very good and when you see a little calf being born and growing it is rather heartwarming. But don’t tell anyone I said that or I will have to slay you.

There is no need to fight any longer. I have my family, my farm and all the land a man could ask for. If I need to travel I can take a horse anywhere I wish to. I still visit different families and go to feasts.

There has been a lot of grief back in Norway. The sons of King Eirik and that witch Queen Gunnhild are causing trouble. With parents like that it is no wonder. They have attacked King Hakon several times. However he keeps beating them back; well – – – until the last battle at Hordaland. King Hakon won there also but was mortally wounded.

Cheiftan Arinbjorn is now with Harald Eiriksson. He is counselor and head of all armies. He receives large sums of money for his duties. I wrote a few verses for him. It is somewhere around here. Oh yes, I keep it in one of my chests of silver that King Athelstan gave to me. Here it is:

 

An Ode to Arinbjorn

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘Arinbjorn
Alone us saved
Foremost of champions
From fury of king;
Friend of the monarch
He framed no lies
Within that palace
Of warlike prince.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

‘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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

‘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.’

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