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Þat mælti mín móðir (English translation)

Proofreading requested
Old Norse/Norrønt
Old Norse/Norrønt

Þat mælti mín móðir

Þat mælti mín móðir,
at mér skyldi kaupa
fley ok fagrar árar,
fara á brott með víkingum,
standa upp í stafni,
stýra dýrum knerri,
halda svá til hafnar
hǫggva mann ok annan,
hǫggva mann ok annan.
Þél höggr stórt fyr stáli
stafnkvígs á veg jafnan
út með éla meitli
andærr jötunn vandar,
en svalbúinn selju
sverfr eirar vanr þeiri
Gestils ölpt með gustum
gandr of stál fyr brandi.
Submitted by SaintMarkSaintMark on Mon, 24/04/2017 - 16:10
Last edited by IceyIcey on Mon, 01/11/2021 - 20:22
Submitter's comments:

this song appeard in the 4th season of the tv production 'vikings' that centers around the life of ragnar lodbrok and his settlement in kattegat. It is sung by Harald Fairhair, who is known in the series as Harald Finehair, the future king of all norway and his good friend Halfdan the Black.
The lyrics here consist of 2 poems of Egils Saga, found there in chapter 40 and 57.

English translationEnglish
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This said my mother

Versions: #1#2
This said my mother
that I shall buy for myself
a swift ship and of a pretty oar,
to journey away with freebooters,
to stand tall on the prow,
steer a worthy merchant-ship,
direct it thus to the harbour,
strike one man and the other,
strike one man and the other.
With the file he strikes out, hard against the steel
of the prow-steed on the flat path,
with the chisel of the snowstorms,
the opposite-oared giant of the twig,
but the cold-made one of that willow,
the merciless one files
Gestill's swan with gusts,
this wand of steel against the ship's beak.
thanked 229 times

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Submitted by ScieraSciera on Tue, 01/05/2018 - 09:26
Added in reply to request by aaandrusiakaaandrusiak
Last edited by ScieraSciera on Wed, 13/06/2018 - 08:47
Author's comments:

That second part is really difficult to translate due to the word order, the metaphors and the various meanings of each word. I wrote a very literal translation here, but took as a help the 2 less literal translations in the source (found there on page 8f.), even though I interpreted some parts differently.

For the first paragraph I used the translation at as a help to fix some mistakes I had made.

The author of translation requested proofreading.
It means that he/she will be happy to receive corrections, suggestions etc about the translation.
If you are proficient in both languages of the language pair, you are welcome to leave your comments.
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somethingswellsomethingswell    Sat, 19/02/2022 - 02:19

It is not really necessary to have "this" in the title line; the line translates basically to "My mother told me", þat is just a common formality of Norse and the Norse languages that isn’t needed in English.

> fagrar árar

This is plural.

> stýra dýrum knerri

I would translate "dýrum" to something like noble, or valuable.

> Þél höggr stórt fyr stáli, stafnkvígs á veg jafnan

This is saying that a file -- I assume this is a metaphor for the choppy waves of a storm -- strikes in front of the steel of the prow, "on its smooth path". Stafnkvígr is a ship, a kenning of stafn+kvígr ("prow-bull").

> andærr jötunn vandar

This is another kenning, meaning storm. "Enemy of the post/tree", basically, as wind strikes down trees or tall structures. Skaldic poetry is big on metaphors. Andærr means adverse.

> en svalbúinn selju

The cold-clad enemy of the willow (selja is in the genitive case here referring to the various euphemisms for enemy, I'm honestly not sure which).

The last two lines are rather difficult to write poetically in English, but the gist of it is that the wind and storm is beating against the gilded front of the ship.

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