The Northern Way

Rigsthul

They tell in old stories that one of the gods, whose name was Heimdall, went on his way along a certain seashore, and came to a dwelling, where he called himself Rig. According to these stories is the following poem:

1. Men say there went        by ways so green
Of old the god,         the ages and wise,
Mighty and strong        did Rig go striding.
-assumed lacuna-

2. Forward he went        on the midmost way,
He came to a dwelling,        a door on its posts;
In did he fare,         on the floor was a fire,
Two hoary ones        by the hearth there sat,
Ai and Edda,        in olden dress.

3. Rig knew well                wise words to speak,
Soon in the midst        of the room he sat,
And on either side        the others were.

4. A loaf of bread        did Edda bring,
Heavy and thick        and swollen with husks;
Forth on the table        she sat the fare,
And broth for the meal        in a bowl there was.
(Calf’s flesh boiled        was the best of dainties.)

5. Rig knew well                wise words to speak,
Thence did he rise,        made ready to sleep;
Soon in the bed        himself did he say,
And on either side        the others were.

6. Thus was he there        for three nights long,
Then forward he went        on the midmost way,
And so nine months        were soon passed by.

7. A son bore Edda,        with water they sprinkled him,
With a cloth his hair        so black they covered;
Thraell they named him,        -lacuna-

8. The skin was wrinkled        and rough on his hands,
Knotted his knuckles,                -lacuna- ed em /and rough his nails/
Thick his fingers,        and ugly his face,
Twisted his back,        and big his heels.

9. He began to grow,        and to gain in strength,
Soon of his might        good use he made
With bast he bound,        and burdens carried,
Home bore faggots        the whole day long.

10. One came to their home,        crooked her legs,
Stained were her feet,                and sunburned her arms,
Flat was her nose;        her name was Thir.

11. Soon in the midst         of the room she sat,
By her side there sat        the son of the house;
They whispered both,                and the bed made ready,
Thraell and Thir,        till the day was through.

12. Children they had,        they lived and were happy,
Fjosnir and Klur        they were called, methinks,
Hreim and Kleggi,        Kefsir, Fulnir,
Drumb, Digraldi,        Drott and Leggjaldi,
Lut and Hosvir;        the house they cared for,
Ground they dunged,        and swine they guarded,
Goats they tended,        and turf they dug.

13. Daughters had they,        Drumba and Kumba,
Okkvinkalfa,                Arinnefja,
Ysja and Ambott,        Eikintjasna,
Totrughypja                and Tronubeina;
And thence has risen        the race of thralls.

14. Forward went Rig,         his road was straight,
To a hall he came,         and a door there hung;
In did he fare,                on the floor was a fire:
Afi and Amma        owned the house.

15. There sat the twain,        and worked at their tasks;
The man hewed wood        for the weaver’s beam;
His beard was trimmed,        o’er his brow a curl,
His clothes fitted close;        in the corner a chest.

16. The woman sat        and the distaff wielded,
At the weaving with arms        outstretched she worked;
On her head was a band,        on her breast a smock;
On her shoulders a kerchief        with clasps there was.

17. Rig knew well                wise words to speak,
Soon in the midst        of the room he sat,
And on either side        the others were.

18. Then took Amma         -lacuna-
The vessels full        with the fare she sat,
Calf’s flesh boiled         was the best of dainties.

19. Rig knew well        wise words to speak,
He rose from the board,        made ready to sleep;
Soon in the bed        himself did lay,
And on either side        the others were.

20. Thus was he there        for three nights long,
Then forward he went        on the midmost way,
And so nine months        were soon passed by.

21. A son bore Amma,        with water they sprinkled him,
Karl they named him;                in a cloth she wrapped him,
He was ruddy of face,                and flashing his eyes.

22. He began to grow,        and to gain in strength,
Oxen he ruled,        and plows made ready,
Houses he built,        and barns he fashioned,
Carts he made,        and the plow he managed.

23. Home did they bring        the bride for Karl,
In goatskins clad,        and keys she bore;
Snor was her name,        ‘neath the veil she sat;
A home they made ready,        and rings exchanged,
The bed they decked,        and a dwelling made.

24. Sons they had,        the lived and were happy;
Hal and Dreng,        Holth, Thegn and Smith,
Breith and Bondi,        Bundinskeggi,
Bui and Boddi,        Brattskegg and Segg.

25. Daughters they had,        and their names are here:
Snot, Bruth, Svanni,        Svarri, Sprakki,
Fljoth, Sprund and Vif,        Feima, Ristil:
And thence has risen        the yeoman’s race.

26. Thence went Rig,         his road was straight,
A hall he saw,                the doors faced south;
The portal stood wide,        on the posts was a ring,
Then in he fared;        the floor was strewn.

27. Within two gazed        in each other’s eyes,
Fathir and Mothir,        and played with their fingers;
There sat the house-lord,        wound strings for the bow,
Shafts he fashioned,        and bows he shaped.

28. The lady sat,        at her arms she looked,
She smoothed the cloth,        and fitted the sleeves;
Gay was her cap,        on her breast were clasps,
Broad was her train,        of blue her gown.
Her brows were bright,        her breast was shining,
Whiter her neck        than new-fallen snow.

29. Rig knew well                wise words to speak,
Soon in the midst        of the room he sat,
And on either side        the others were.

30. Then Mothir brought        a broidered cloth,
Of linen bright,        and the board she covered;
And then she took        the loaves so thin,
And laid them, white        from the wheat, on the cloth.

31. Then forth she brought         the vessels full,
With silver covered,        and set before them,
Meat all browned,        and well-cooked birds;
In the pitcher was wine,        of plate were the cups,
So drank they and talked        till the day was gone.

32. Rig knew well                wise words to speak,
Soon did he rise,        made ready to sleep;
So in the bed        himself did lay,
And on either side        the others were.

33. Thus was he there        for three nights long,
Then forward he went        on the midmost way,
And so nine months        were soon passed by.

34. A son had Mothir,        in silk they wrapped him,
With water they sprinkled him,        Jarl he was;
Blond was his hair,        and bright his cheeks,
Grim as a snake’s        were his glowing eyes.

35. To grow in the house                did Jarl begin,
Shields he brandished,        and bow-strings wound,
Bows he shot,                and shafts he fastened,
Arrows he loosened,                and lances wielded,
Horses he rode,         and hounds unleashed,
Swords he handled,        and sounds he swam.
Straight from the grove        came striding Rig,
Rig came striding,        and runes he taught him;
By his name he called him,        as son he claimed him,
And bade him hold        his heritage wide,
His heritage wide,         the ancient homes.

36. -lacuna-
Forward he rode        through the forest dark,
O’er the frosty crags,                till a hall he found.

37. His spear he shook,                his shield he brandished,
His horse he spurred,                with his sword he hewed;
Wars he raised,        and reddened the field,
Warriors slew he,        and land he won.

38. Eighteen halls                ere long did he hold,
Wealth did he get,        and gave to all,
Stones and jewels        and slim-flanked steeds,
Rings he offered,        and arm-rings shared.

39. His messengers went        by the ways so wet,
And came to the hall        where Hersir dwelt;
His daughter was fair        and slender-fingered,
Erna the wise                the maiden was.

40. Her hand they sought,        and home they brought her,
Wedded to Jarl        the veil she wore;
Together they dwelt,                their joy was great,
Children they had,        and happy they lived.

41. Bur was the eldest,        and Barn the next,
Joth and Athal,        Arfi, Mog,
Nith and Svein,        soon they began-
Sun and Nithjung-        to play and swim;
Kund was one,         and the youngest Kon.

42. Soon grew up                the sons of Jarl,
Beasts they tamed,        and bucklers rounded,
Shafts they fashioned,                and spears they shook.

43. But Kon the Young        learned runes to use,
Runes everlasting,        the runes of life;
Soon could he well        the warriors shield,
Dull the swordblade,        and still the seas.

44. Bird-chatter learned he,        flames could he lessen,
Minds could quiet,                and sorrows calm;
-lacuna-
The might and strength        of twice four men.

45. With Rig-Jarl soon        the runes he shared,
More crafty he was,         and greater his wisdom;
The right he sought,        and soon he won it,
Rig to be called,        and runes to know.

46. Young Kon rode forth        through forest and grove,
Shafts let loose,        and birds he lured;
There spake a crow        on a bough that sat:
“Why lurest thou, Kon,        the birds to come?

47. “Twere better forth        on thy steed to fare,
-lacuna- /the sword to wield/        and the host to slay.

48. “The halls of Dan        and Danp are noble,
Greater their wealth        than thou hast gained;
Good are they                at guiding the keel,
Trying of weapons,         and giving of wounds.”


(Kon the Young is a play on Konungur, King.)

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