Viðareiði on Viðoy, Faroe Islands. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org, owner: Erik Christensen, released under CCASA 3.0 unported.

A faroese ballad

.
This text was adapted with kind permission of

Kiyo Yamazaki who did the English tranlation

with help from Anker Eli Petersen

© Copyright English translation: Kiyo Yamazaki

 

{Modern Faroese (orthography) English translation
2.
“Eg havi lúkað treytir mín’,
nú vil eg hava sonin tín.
2.
“I have fulfilled my [end of the] bargain,
Now I will have your son.
3.
Eg vil hava sonin frá tær,
uttan tú goymir hann fyri mær.”
3.
I will have the son of yours
You’ll not conceal him from me.”
4.
Bóndin heitir á sveinir tvá:
“Biðið Óðin fyri meg inngá.
4.
The peasant said to his lad:
“Bid Odin (3) to step in for me.”
5.
“Heitið á Óðin Asakong,
tá man goymslan gerðast long.”
5
“Summon now Odin the Asa-king (4),
Who can guard him, hid away for long.
6.
“Eg vildi, mín Óðin veri til,
vita hvussu goymslan ganga vil.”
6.
“I wish Odin wert right here,
And knew where to hide the boy!”
7.
Áður enn teir høvdu hálvtalað orð,
tá var Óðin inn fyri borð.
7.
Ere he hath said the word,
There stood Odin before the table.
8.
“Hoyr tú Óðin, eg tali til tín,
tú skalt goyma sonin mín.”
8.
“Hark thou Odin, I bid to thee,
Thou shalt hide mine son for me!”
9.
Óðin fór við sveini út,
brúður og bóndi bóru sút,
9.
Odin fared off with the boy,
The wife and the peasant were woebegone.
10.
Óðin biður vaksa brátt,
akurin upp eftir eini nátt.
10.
Odin commanded a field of crop,
To grow tall after scarce one night,
11.
Óðin biður vera svein,
mitt í akri aksið eitt.
11.
Odin commanded the boy become
A single ear among the crop.
12.
Mitt í akri aksið eitt,
mitt í aksi, byggkorn eitt.
12.
A single ear among all the crop,
A barley-grain amid one ear.
13.
“Ver har í við onga pínu,
tá ið eg kalli, kom til mín!
13.
“Lie in there, do not pain,
When I should hail, come to me!
14.
Ver har í við onga sút,
tá ið eg kalli, kom her út.
14.
Lie in there, don’t you fear
When I should hail, come hither out!”
15.
Risin hevur hjarta hart sum horn,
ripar nú fangið fult við korn.
15.
The giant has a heart as hard as horn,
He grasps by the armful at the corn.
16.
Ripar nú korn í fang á sær,
og bitran brand í hendi bar.
16.
He now grasps the corn in his sight,
Bearing a keen-biting sword in hand
17.
Og bitran brand í hendi bar,
hann ætlar at høgga sveinin har.
17.
And bearing a keen-biting sword in hand
He sets out to mow the boy down.
18.
Tá var sveini komin til sút,
byggkorn kreyp úr neva út.
18.
Then was the boy affrighted,
The barley-corn squirmed out of the fist.
19.
Tá var sveini komin til pína,
Óðin kallar hann til sín.
19.
Then was the boy overcome with pain
Odin hailed unto him.
20.
Óðin fór við sveini heim,
bóndi og brúður fagna teim.
20.
Odin fared with the boy back home
The peasant and his wife gave them embrace.
21.
“Her er ungi alvi tín,
nú er uppi goymslan mín.”
21.
“Here I have the young son of yours,
Now I am done with hiding him.”
22.
Bóndin heitir á sveina tvá:
“biðið Hønir fyri meg inngá!”
22.
The peasant said to his boy:
“Bid Hønir (5) to step in for me!”
23.
“Eg vildi, mín Hønir veri til,
vita, hvussu goymslan ganga vil.”
23.
“I wish Hønir wert right here,
And knew where to hide the boy!”
24.
Áður enn teir høvdu hálvtalað orð,
tá var Hønir inn fyri borð.
24.
Ere he had said the word,
There stood Hønir before the table.
25.
“Hoyr tú Hønir, eg talið til tín,
tú skalt goyma sonin mín!”
25.
“Harken Hønir, I bid to thee
Thou shall hide mine son for me!”
26.
Hønir fór við sveini út,
brúður og bóndi bóru sút.
26.
Hønir fared off with the boy,
The wife and the peasant were woebegone.
27.
Hønir gongur á grønari grund,
svanir sjey teir flugu um sund.
27.
Hønir gang over the green ground,
Seven swans flew across the sound.
28.
Fyri eystan flugu svanir tveir,
niður hjá Hønir settust teir.
28.
Eastward flew two swans
They alighted beside Hønir.
29.
Hønir biður nú vera svein,
mitt í knokki fjøður ein.
29.
Hønir commanded now the boy to become A single feather in the head of the swan.
30.
“Ver har í við onga pínu,
tá ið eg kalli, kom til mín!
30.
“Lie in there, do not pain,
When I call you, come out to me!
31.
Ver har í við onga sút,
tá ið eg kalli, kom her út!”
31.
Lie in there, don’t you fear,
When I call you, come hither out!
32.
Skrímslið loypur á grønari grund,
svanir sjey teir flugu um sund.
32.
The monster gang over the green ground,
Seven swans flew across the sound.
33.
Risin fell tá á sítt knæ,
tann fremsta svanin fekk hann har.
33.
The giant dropt down on his knees
And grabbed the swan which was at the forefront.
34.
Tann fremsta svanin hann av beit
hálsin niður í herðar sleit.
34.
He took a bite out of the forefront swan,
Gashing its throat down to the shoulder.
35.
Tá var sveini komin til sút,
fjøður smeyg úr kjafti út.
35.
Then was the boy turned affright,
A feather slipped out of the giant’s clutches.
36.
Tá var sveini komi til pína,
Hønir kallaði hann til sín.
36.
Then was the boy overcome with pain,
Hønir hailed unto him.
37.
Hønir fór við sveini heim,
brúður og bóndi fagna teim.
37.
Hønir fared with the boy back homeward,
The wife and the peasant gave them embrace.
38.
“Her er ungi alvi tín,
nú er uppi goymsla mín.”
38.
“Here I have the young son of yours,
Now I am done hiding him.
39.
Bóndin heitir á sveinar tvá:
“biði Lokka fyri meg inngá!”
39.
The peasant said to his lad:
“Bid Lokki step in for me!”
40.
“Eg vildi mín Lokki veri til,
vita, hvussu goymslan ganga vil!”
40.
“I wish Lokki wert right here,
And knew where to hide the boy!”
41.
Áður enn teir høvdu hálvtalað orð,
tá var Lokki inn fyri borð.
41.
Ere he said the word,
There stood Lokki before the table.
42.
“Tú veitst einki av mínari neyð,
skrímslið ætlar mín sonar deyð.
42.
“Thou canst but imagine my dire need,
The monster means to have my son dead.
43.
Hoyr tú Lokki, eg talið til tín,
tú skalt goyma sonin mín!
43.
Harken, thou Lokki, I bid to thee,
Thou shall hide mine son for me!
44.
Goym hann væl, so sum tú kann,
lat ikki skrímslið fáa hann!”
44.
Hide him so good, as well as you can,
So the lad can never captured be!”
45.
“Skal eg goyma sonin tín, tá mást tú lúka treytir mín’!
45.
“If I am to hide your son,
You must do my bidding!
46.
Tú skalt lata neystið gera, meðan eg man burtur vera.
46.
You shall build a boathouse,
While I am gone away.
47.
Víðan glugga sker tú á,
jarnkelvi legg tú har í hjá!
47.
You shall cut out a window wide,
And bar it with an iron rod!
48.
Lokki fór við sveini út,
brúður og bóndi bóru sút.
48.
Lokki fared off with the boy,
The wife and the peasant were woebegone.
49.
Lokki gongur eftir sandi,
sum skútan fleyt fyri landi.
49.
Lokki appears over the strand,
With a skiff ashore by the land.
50.
Lokki rør á igsta (ytsta) klakk,
so er í fornum frøði sagt.
50.
Lokki rows out to the remotest fishing banks
That was told in the lore of yore.
51.
Lokki hevur ei fleiri orð,
ongul og stein hann varpar fyri borð.
51.
Lokki utters not another word,
He casts the hook and sinker overboard.
52.
Ongur og steinur við grunni vóð,
snarliga hyggin hann flundru dró.
52.
He casts the hook and sinker overboard
And anon hauls in a halibut(helliflounder) (6)
53.
Dregur hann eina, dregur hann tvá,
hin triðja, hon var svørt at sjá.
53.
He hauls in one, he hauls in two,
The third had a blackish hue.
54.
Lokki biður nú vera svein, mitt í rogni kornið eitt.
54.
Lokki commands now the boy become,
An egg-grain in the halibut(helliflounder)’s roe.
55.
“Ver har í við onga pínu,
tá ið eg kalli, kom til mín!
55.
“Lie in there, do not pain,
When I call you, come out to me!
56.
Ver har í við onga sút,
tá ið eg kalli, kom her út!”
56.
Lie in there, don’t you fear,
When I call you, come out hither!”
57.
Lokki rør nú aftur at landi,
risin stendur fyri honum á sandi.
57.
Lokki now rows back towards land,
The giant awaiting in the sand.
58.
Risin mælti so orðum brátt:
“Lokki, hvar hevur tú verið í nátt?”
58.
The giant asked him straightaway:
“Lokki, where have you been tonight?”
59.
“Lítla man eg hava ró,
flakkað og farið um allan sjó.”
59.
“Little peace had I,
For I sailed and fared all over the sea.”
60.
Risin oman sín jarnnakka skjýtur,
Lokki rópar, at illa brýtur.
60.
The giant rushes for the iron skiff,
Lokki shouts: “The waves are bad”.
61.
Lokki talar so fyri sær:
“risin, lat meg fylgja tær.”
61
Lokki speaks, and here’s what he said:
“Giant, let me tag along.”
62.
Risin tók sær stýri í hand, Lokki rør nú út frá land.
62.
The giant took the tiller by the hand
Lokki now rowed away from land.
63.
Lokki rør við langa leið,
ikki vil jarnnakkin ganga úr stað.
63.
Lokki rows a good long ways,
But the iron skiff doesn’t budge a bit,
64.
Lokki svør við sína trú,
“eg kann betur stýra enn tú.”
64.
Lokki swears by the truth,
“I can steer one better than you.”
65.
Risin setist til árar at ró,
jarnnakkin fleyg um allan sjó.
65.
The giant then takes the oars,
The iron skiff sped over the sea.
66.
Risin rør við langan favn,
næstum Lokka aftur í stavn.
66.
The giant rows a good long ways,
Nigh did Lokki to the sternpost stay.
67.
Risin rør nú á ytsta klakk, so er í fornum frøði sagt.
67.
The giant rows out to the remotest fishing banks,
That was told in the lore of yore.
68.
Risin hevur ei fleiri orð,
ongul og stein hann varpar fyri borð.
68.
The giant utters not another word,
He casts the hook and sinker overboard
69.
Ongul og steinur við grunni veður,
snarliga hyggin hann flundru dregur.
69.
He casts the hook and sinker overboard
And anon did catch a halibut(helliflounder)*.
70.
Dregur hann eina, dregur hann tvá,
hin triðja hon var svørt at sjá.
70.
He hauls in one, he hauls in two,
The third was of blackish hue.
71.
Lokki svør á sína list:
“risin, gev mær henda fisk.”
71.
Lokki swears by his faith,
“Giant, let me have the fish”
72.
Risin svaraði og segði nei:
“nei, mín Lokki, tú fært hann ei.”
72.
The giant replies and nay says he,
“No, my Lokki, you shan’t have it.”
73.
Hann setti fisk millum kníja á sær,
taldi hvørt korn, í rogni var.
73
He put the fish between his knees,
And counted each egg in the roe.
74.
Taldi hvørt korn, í rogni var,
hann ætlaði fanga sveinin har.
74.
He counted each egg in the roe.
He meant to catch the boy.
75.
Tá var sveini komin til sút,kornið leyp úr neva út.
75.
Then was the boy turned affright,
And an egg leapt out of the hand.
76.
Tá var sveini komin til pína,
Lokki kallar hann til sín.
76.
Then was the boy overcome with pain,
Lokki hailed unto him
77.
“Set teg niður fyri aftan meg,
lat ikki risan síggja teg!
77.
“Sit yourself behind me,
Let not the giant see you.
78.
Tú mást leypa so lættur á land,
ikki merkja spor í sand!”
78.
You must leap lithely upon the land,
Do not leave a track in the sand!”
79.
Risin rør so aftur til land,
beint ímóti hvítan sand.
79.
The giant then rows back to land.
Straight into the white sand.
80.
Risin rør at landi tá,
Lokki snýr jarnnakka frá.
80.
The giant rows onto land,
Lokki turns ’round the iron skiff.
81.
Risin skjýtur afturstavn á land,
sveinur loypur so lættur á land.
81.
The giant runs the sternpost aground on land,
The boy leaps lithely upon the land.
82.
Risin sær seg upp á land,
sveinur stendur fyri honum á sand.
82.
The giant gave gaze to the land,
There stood the boy on the sand.
83.
Sveinur leyp so lættur á land,
ikki merkti spor í sand.
83.
The boy leapt so lithely on to land,
He left no track upon the sand.
84.
Risin leyp so tungur á land,
upp til kníja, niður í sand.
84.
The giant leapt heftily on to shore,
Sinking knee-deep in the sand,
85.
Sveinur leyp sum hann kundi best,
leyp ígjøgnum faðirs neyst.
85.
The boy scurries away as best as he could,
Scurries right through his father’s boathouse.
86.
Hann leyp ígjøgnum faðirs neyst,
risin eftir við fullgott treyst.
86.
He scurries right through his father’s boathouse,
The giant, after him in hot pursuit.
87.
Risin stóð í glugga fastur,
jarnkelvið í heysi brast.
87.
The giant gets himself stuck in the window,
Smashing his head on the iron bar. (7)
88.
Lokki var tá ikki seinur,
hjó av risanum annað beinið.
88.
Loki then did not bide,
He struck off one of the giant’s shins.
89.
Risin heldur at tí gaman,
sárið grøddi snart til saman.
89.
To giant was rather amused by this,
The wound mended back to whole again.
90.
Lokki var tá ikki seinur,
hjó av risanum hitt annað beinið.
90.
Loki then did not bide,
He struck off giant’s other shin.
91.
Hjó av honum, hitt annað bein,
kastaði millum stokk og stein.
91.
He struck off the giant’s other shin.
And tossed in-between, a stick and stone.
92.
Sveinur hyggur á við gaman,
hvussu risin leyp bæði sundur og saman.
92.
To the boy was rather amused by this,
Watching the giant sundered to pieces altogether.
93.
Lokki fór við sveini heim,
brúður og bóndi fagna teim.
93.
Lokki fared with the boy back homeward,
The wife and the peasant gave them embrace.
94.
“Her er ungi alvi tín,
nú er uppi goymslan mín.
94.
“Here I have the young son of yours,
Now I am done with hiding him.
95.
Eg havi hildið trú fyri vist,
nú hevur risin lívið mist.”
95.
I’ve kept my words to you,
Now the giant has lost his life.”
 

(H. C. Lyngbye, Færoiske Qvæðer om Sjurð Fovnisbane og hans Æt,, 1822.)

Footnotes: 1. peasant— Far. bónði is the same word as in Old Icelandic. I’ve used the word “peasant” here (to match H.A. Gureber’s short story “Skrymsli and the Peasant’s Child”, which is essentially a retelling of this Loki’s Tale ballad). Anker Eli Petersen uses “farmer” in his translation of the Skrímsla Ballad. The word is also variously translated as “bondsman”, “franklin”, or “husbandsman”. (2) Refrain: what avails me..— Even though hvat skalliterally reads “what shall”, it means “to what end,” “for what use,” or “why”.

(3) Odin— In Faroese Óðin is pronunced “oh·vin”, the phonetic representation Ouvin (gen. Ouvans, acc. Ouvan) is used by the early ballad-collector H.C. Lyngbye, and is also recorded by Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology.

(4) Asa-King,— i.e. the king of the Æsir deities.

(5) Hønir— or Hoenir is another name of Vili. Odin, Vili, and Ve were three brothers responsible for creating the first humans, Ask and Embla (a man and a woman, and their names meaning “ash” and “elm” respectively). I think the Icelandic form is Hœnir (“oe-ligature”) even though Hænir (“ae-ligature”) is used in most e-texts. The character is mentioned in Völuspá, str. 18. The trio of deities who are summoned in this ballad are also the tree who are travelling together when they slay Otr and are forced to pay the wergeld in the Volsunga saga.

(6) halibut—Though the Faroese name of the fish is flundr, this translates to “halibut” (not “flounder”). H. A. Guerber, wrote a short story “Skrymsli and the Peasant’s Child” based almost entirely on this ballad, and in it he translates the fish as “flounder”. Interestingly enough, the Japanese translation of Gureber’s story calls the fish “hirame“) (* which, as can be confirmed using the polyglot fish list hotlinked above, is a type of “fluke” in English, and called reyðsprøka in Faroese.).
There is also different retelling of the story, in which the fish is given as “haddock”.

(7) iron bar — Far. jarnkelvi (OIc. járn- “iron” + kylfa “club”). It was most difficult for me to comprehending what was happening here, until Anker Eli Petersen sent me his rough translation. In str. 47, Loki dictates the farmer to make a window and set an “iron bar” in it. Since the boy is of much smaller stature, he can run through this barred window without problem. But the giant who comes running doesn’t quite fit through, and bangs his head so hard that it is “brast” (or broken). It is revealed in the following stanzas that the monster has regenerative powers, and one might surmise that even a smashed head is hardly a lethal blow to it.
H. A. Guerber, in his story “Skrymsli and the Peasant’s Child” based on this ballad, interpreted the iron implement to be a sharp spike:

“..Loki had cunningly placed a sharp spike in such a position that the great head of the giant ran full tilt [at full speed] against it, and he sank to the ground with a groan.”


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