Icelandic Saga - Burnt Njal --- (chap. 53-60) [tekst, tłumaczenie i interpretacja piosenki]

Wykonawca: Icelandic Saga
Album: The Saga of Burnt Njal
Gatunek: Poetry

Tekst piosenki

CHAPTER LIII.

HOW OTKELL RODE OVER GUNNAR.


It happened next spring that Otkell said that they would ride east to
the Dale, to pay Runolf a visit, and all showed themselves well pleased
at that. Skamkell and his two brothers, and Audulf and three men more,
went along with Otkell. Otkell rode one of the dun horses, but the other
ran loose by his side. They shaped their course east towards Markfleet;
and now Otkell gallops ahead, and now the horses race against each
other, and they break away from the path up towards the Fleetlithe.

Now, Otkell goes faster than he wished, and it happened that Gunnar had
gone away from home out of his house all alone; and he had a corn-sieve
in one hand, but in the other a hand-axe. He goes down to his seed field
and sows his corn there, and had laid his cloak of fine stuff and his
axe down by his aide, and so he sows the corn a while.

Now, it must be told how Otkell rides faster than he would. He had spurs
on his feet, and so he gallops down over the ploughed field, and neither
of them sees the other; and just as Gunnar stands upright, Otkell rides
down upon him, and drives one of the spurs into Gunnar's ear, and gives
him a great gash, and it bleeds at once much.

Just then Otkell's companions rode up.

"Ye may see, all of you," says Gunnar, "that thou hast drawn my blood,
and it is unworthy to go on so. First thou hast summoned me, but now
thou treadest me under foot, and ridest over me."

Skamkell said, "Well it was no worse, master, but thou wast not one whit
less wroth at the Thing, when thou tookest the self-doom and clutchedst
thy bill."

Gunnar said, "When we two next meet thou shalt see the bill." After that
they part thus, and Skamkell shouted out and said, "Ye ride hard, lads!"

Gunnar went home, and said never a word to any one about what had
happened, and no one thought that this wound could have come by man's
doing.

It happened, though, one day that he told it to his brother Kolskegg,
and Kolskegg said--

"This thou shalt tell to more men, so that it may not be said that thou
layest blame on dead men; for it will be gainsaid if witnesses do not
know beforehand what has passed between you."

Then Gunnar told it to his neighbours, and there was little talk about
it at first.

Otkell comes east to the Dale, and they get a hearty welcome there, and
sit there a week.

Skamkell told Runolf all about their meeting with Gunnar, and how it had
gone off; and one man had happened to ask how Gunnar behaved.

"Why," said Skamkell, "if it were a low-born man it would have been said
that he had wept."

"Such things are ill spoken," says Runolf, "and when ye two next meet,
thou wilt have to own that there is no voice of weeping in his frame of
mind; and it will be well if better men have not to pay for thy spite.
Now it seems to me best when ye wish to go home that I should go with
you, for Gunnar will do me no harm."

"I will not have that," says Otkell; "but I will ride across the Fleet
lower down."

Runolf gave Otkell good gifts, and said they should not see one another
again.

Otkell bade him then to bear his sons in mind if things turned out so.




CHAPTER LIV.

THE FIGHT AT RANGRIVER.


Now we must take up the story, and say that Gunnar was out of doors at
Lithend, and sees his shepherd galloping up to the yard. The shepherd
rode straight into the "town"; and Gunnar said, "Why ridest thou so
hard?"

"I would be faithful to thee," said the man; "I saw men riding down
along Markfleet, eight of them together, and four of them were in
coloured clothes."

Gunnar said, "That must be Otkell".

The lad said, "I have often heard many temper-trying words of
Skamkell's; for Skamkell spoke away there East at Dale, and said that
thou sheddest tears when they rode over thee; but I tell it thee because
I cannot bear to listen to such speeches of worthless men".

"We must not be word-sick," says Gunnar, "but from this day forth thou
shalt do no other work than what thou choosest for thyself."

"Shall I say aught of this to Kolskegg thy brother?" asked the shepherd.

"Go thou and sleep," says Gunnar; "I will tell Kolskegg."

The lad laid him down and fell asleep at once, but Gunnar took the
shepherd's horse and laid his saddle on him; he took his shield, and
girded him with his sword, Oliver's gift; he sets his helm on his head;
takes his bill, and something sung loud in it, and his mother, Rannveig,
heard it. She went up to him and said, "Wrathful art thou now, my son,
and never saw I thee thus before".

Gunnar goes out, and drives the butt of his spear into the earth, and
throws himself into the saddle, and rides away.

His mother, Rannveig, went into the sitting-room, where there was a
great noise of talking.

"Ye speak loud," she says, "but yet the bill gave a louder sound when
Gunnar went out."

Kolskegg heard what she said, and spoke, "This betokens no small
tidings".

"That is well," says Hallgerda, "now they will soon prove whether he
goes away from them weeping."

Kolskegg takes his weapons and seeks him a horse, and rides after Gunnar
as fast as he could.

Gunnar rides across Acretongue, and so to Geilastofna, and thence to
Rangriver, and down the stream to the ford at Hof. There were some women
at the milking-post there. Gunnar jumped off his horse and tied him up.
By this time the others were riding up towards him; there were flat
stones covered with mud in the path that led down to the ford.

Gunnar called out to them and said, "Now is the time to guard
yourselves; here now is the bill, and here now ye will put it to the
proof whether I shed one tear for all of you".

Then they all of them sprang off their horses' backs and made towards
Gunnar. Hallbjorn was the foremost.

"Do not thou come on," says Gunnar; "thee last of all would I harm; but
I will spare no one if I have to fight to my life."

"That I cannot do," says Hallbjorn; "thou wilt strive to kill my brother
for all that, and it is a shame if I sit idly by." And as he said this
he thrust at Gunnar with a great spear which he held in both hands.

Gunnar threw his shield before the blow, but Hallbjorn pierced the
shield through. Gunnar thrust the shield down so hard that it stood fast
in the earth,[23] but he brandished his sword so quickly that no eye
could follow it, and he made a blow with the sword, and it fell on
Hallbjorn's arm above the wrist, so that it cut it off.

Skamkell ran behind Gunnar's back and makes a blow at him with a great
axe. Gunnar turned short round upon him and parries the blow with the
bill, and caught the axe under one of its horns with such a wrench that
it flew out of Skamkell's hand away into the river.

Then Gunnar sang a song.

Once thou askedst, foolish fellow,
Of this man, this sea-horse racer,
When as fast as feet could foot it
Forth ye fled from farm of mine,
Whether that were rightly summoned?
Now with gore the spear we redden,
Battle-eager and avenge us
Thus on thee, vile source of strife.

Gunnar gives another thrust with his bill, and through Skamkell, and
lifts him up and casts him down in the muddy path on his head.

Audulf the Easterling snatches up a spear and launches it at Gunnar.
Gunnar caught the spear with his hand in the air, and hurled it back at
once, and it flew through the shield and the Easterling too, and so down
into the earth.

Otkell smites at Gunnar with his sword, and aims at his leg just below
the knee, but Gunnar leapt up into the air and he misses him. Then
Gunnar thrusts at him the bill, and the blow goes through him.

Then Kolskegg comes up, and rushes at once at Hallkell and dealt him his
death-blow with his short sword. There and then they slay eight men.

A woman who saw all this, ran home and told Mord, and besought him to
part them.

"They alone will be there," he says, "of whom I care not though they
slay one another."

"Thou canst not mean to say that," she says, "for thy kinsman Gunnar,
and thy friend Otkell will be there."

"Baggage that thou art," he says, "thou art always chattering," and so
he lay still indoors while they fought.

Gunnar and Kolskegg rode home after this work, and they rode hard up
along the river bank, and Gunnar slipped off his horse and came down on
his feet.

Then Kolskegg said, "Hard now thou ridest, brother!"

"Ay," said Gunnar, "that was what Skamkell said when he uttered those
very words when they rode over me."

"Well! thou hast avenged that now," says Kolskegg.

"I would like to know," says Gunnar, "whether I am by so much the less
brisk and bold than other men, because I think more of killing men than
they?"




CHAPTER LV.

NJAL'S ADVICE TO GUNNAR.


Now those tidings are heard far and wide, and many say that they thought
they had not happened before it was likely. Gunnar rode to
Bergthorsknoll and told Njal of these deeds.

Njal said, "Thou hast done great things, but thou hast been sorely
tried."

"How will it now go henceforth?" says Gunnar.

"Wilt thou that I tell thee what hath not yet come to pass?" asks Njal.
"Thou wilt ride to the Thing, and thou wilt abide by my counsel and get
the greatest honour from this matter. This will be the beginning of thy
manslayings."

"But give me some cunning counsel," says Gunnar.

"I will do that," says Njal: "never slay more than one man in the same
stock, and never break the peace which good men and true make between
thee and others, and least of all in such a matter as this."

Gunnar said, "I should have thought there was more risk of that with
others than with me."

"Like enough," says Njal, "but still thou shalt so think of thy quarrels
that, if that should come to pass of which I have warned thee, then thou
wilt have but a little while to live; but otherwise, thou wilt come to
be an old man."

Gunnar said, "Dost thou know what will be thine own death?"

"I know it," says Njal.

"What?" asks Gunnar.

"That," says Njal, "which all would be the last to think."

After that Gunnar rode home.

A man was sent to Gizur the white and Geir the priest, for they had the
blood-feud after Otkell. Then they had a meeting, and had a talk about
what was to be done; and they were of one mind that the quarrel should
be followed up at law. Then some one was sought who would take the suit
up, but no one was ready to do that.

"It seems to me," says Gizur, "that now there are only two courses, that
one of us two undertakes the suit, and then we shall have to draw lots
who it shall be, or else the man will be unatoned. We may make up our
minds, too, that this will be a heavy suit to touch; Gunnar has many
kinsmen and is much beloved; but that one of us who does not draw the
lot shall ride to the Thing and never leave it until the suit comes to
an end."

After that they drew lots, and Geir the priest drew the lot to take up
the suit.

A little after, they rode from the west over the river, and came to the
spot where the meeting had been by Rangriver, and dug up the bodies, and
took witness to the wounds. After that they gave lawful notice and
summoned nine neighbours to bear witness in the suit.

They were told that Gunnar was at home with about thirty men; then Geir
the priest asked whether Gizur would ride against him with one hundred
men.

"I will not do that," says he, "though the balance of force is great on
our side."

After that they rode back home. The news that the suit was set on foot
was spread all over the country, and the saying ran that the Thing would
be very noisy and stormy.

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