The Northern Way

Atlamál in Groenlenzku

The Groenland Lay of Atli.

Page 1

1. Of those misdeeds men have heard tell,
when warriors of old
a compact made,
which by pledges they confirmed,
a secret consultation held:
terrible it was to them after,
and to Giuki’s sons likewise,
who were betrayed.

2. The warriors’ fate ripened,
they were death-doomed:
ill advised was Atli,
though he possessed sagacity:
he felled a mighty column,
strove hardly against himself;
with speed he messengers despatched,
that his wife’s brothers should come quickly.

3. Wise was the house-dame,
prudently she thought;
the words in order she had heard,
that in secret they had said:
the sage lady was at a loss:
fain would she help them:
they o’er the sea must sail,
but she herself could not go.

4. Runes she graved,
Vingi them falsified,
before he gave them from him;
of ill he was the bearer.
Then departed
Atli’s messengers,
through the branched firth,
for where the bold warriors dwelt.

5. They with beer were cheered,
and fires they kindled,
naught though they of guile,
when they were come;
they the gifts accepted,
which the prince sent them,
and of no evil thought.

6. Then came Kostbera,
she was Högni’s wife,
a woman greatly cautious,
and them both greeted.
Glad was also Glaumvör,
Gunnar’s consort,
the prudent dame her duty forgot not,
she to the guests’ need attended.

7. Högni they home invited,
if he would be pleased to go.
Treachery was manifest,
had they but reflected!
Gunnar then promised,
if only Högni would,
but Högni refused
what the other proposed.

8. The noble dames bore mead,
of many things there was abundance,
many horns passed round,
until it seemed they had full drunken.

9. The household prepared their couches,
as to them seemed best.
Cunning was Kostbera,
she could runes interpret;
she the letters read
by the bright fire;
- her tongue she had to guard
between both her gums -
so perverted were they,
it was difficult to understand them.

10. To their bed they went,
she and Högni.
The gentle lady dreamed,
and concealed it not,
to the prince wisely said it
as soon as she awoke.

11. “From home thou art going, Högni!
give ear to counsel;
few are fully prudent:
go another time.

12. I have the runes interpreted,
which thy sister graved:
that fair dame has not
this time invited thee.
At one thing I wonder most,
I cannot even conceive,
why so wise a woman
so confusedly should grave;
for it is so set down
as if it intimated
death to you both,
if you should straightway come.
Either she has left out a letter,
or others are the cause.

13. “They are,” said Högni, “all suspicious;
I have no knowledge of them,
nor will I into it inquire,
unless we have to make requital.
The king will gift us
with gleed-red gold.
I never fear,
though we may hear of terror.”

14. “Tottering ye will go,
if thitherward ye tend.
No kind entertainment there
will ye at this time find.
Högni! I have dreamed,
I will not conceal it:
in an evil hour ye will go,
or so at least I fear.

15. Methought thy coverlet was
with fire consumed;
that the towering flame
rushed through my dwelling.”

16. “Here lie linen cloths,
which thou hadst little noticed:
these will quickly burn
where thou the coverlet sawest.”

17. “Methought a bear came in,
and broke down the columns;
and so his talons shook,
that we were terror-stricken;
by his mouth held many of us,
so that we were helpless:
there, too, was a din
far from little.”

18. “A tempest there will be
furious and sudden:
the white bear thou sawest
will be a storm from the east.”

19. “Methought an eagle flew herein,
all through the house:
that will largely concern us.
He sprinkled all with blood:
from his threats I thought it
to be the ‘ham’ of Atli.”

20. “We often slaughter largely,
and then red we see:
often are oxen meant,
when we of eagles dream.
Sound is the heart of Atli,
dream thou as thou mayest.”
With this they ended:
all speeches have an end.


21. The high-born awoke,
there the like befell:
Glaumvör had perceived
that her dreams were ill-boding,
adverse to Gunnar’s
going to and fro.

22. “Methought a gallows was for thee erected,
thou wentest to be hanged,
that serpents ate thee,
that I inter’d thee living,
that the Powers’ dissolution came -
Divine thou what that portends.

23. Methought a bloody glave
from thy sark was drawn -
ill ‘tis such a dream
to a consort to recount -
methought a lance was
thrust through thy middle~
wolves howled
on every side.”

24. “Where dogs run
they are wont to bark~
oft bodes the bay of dogs
the flight of javelins.”

25. “Methought a river ran herein,
through the whole house,
that I roared violently,
rushed o’er the benches,
brake the feet of you
brothers twain;
nothing the water spared:
something will that portend!


Index  |  atlakviša - the lay of atli page 2  |  atlamįl in groenlenzku - the groenland lay of atli page 2