Saga of King Harald Grafeld and of Earl Hakon Son of Sigurd
Sagan af Haraldi konungi gráfeld ok Hákoni jarli

By Snorri Sturlason (c. 1179 - 1241).


When King Hakon was killed, the sons of Eirik took the sovereignty of Norway. Harald, who was the oldest of the living brothers, was over them in dignity. Their mother Gunhild, who was called the King-mother, mixed herself much in the affairs of the country. There were many chiefs in the land at that time. There was Trygve Olafson in the Eastland, Gudrod Bjornson in Vestfold, Sigurd earl of Hlader in the Throndhjem land; but Gunhild's sons held the middle of the country the first winter. There went messages and ambassadors between Gunhild's sons and Trygve and Gudrod, and all was settled upon the footing that they should hold from Gunhild's sons the same part of the country which they formerly had held under King Hakon. A man called Glum Geirason, who was King Harald's skald, and was a very brave man, made this song upon King Hakon's death: --

     "Gamle is avenged by Harald!
     Great is thy deed, thou champion bold!
     The rumour of it came to me
     In distant lands beyond the sea,
     How Harald gave King Hakon's blood
     To Odin's ravens for their food."

This song was much favoured. When Eyvind Finson heard of it he composed the song which was given before, viz.: --

     "Our dauntless king with Gamle's gore
     Sprinkled his bright sword o'er and o'er," 

This song also was much favoured, and was spread widely abroad; and when King Harald came to hear of it, he laid a charge against Evyind affecting his life; but friends made up the quarrel, on the condition that Eyvind should in future be Harald's skald, as he had formerly been King Hakon's. There was also some relationship between them, as Gunhild, Eyvind's mother, was a daughter of Earl Halfdan, and her mother was Ingibjorg, a daughter of Harald Harfager. Thereafter Eyvind made a song about King Harald: --

     "Guardian of Norway, well we know
     Thy heart failed not when from the bow
     The piercing arrow-hail sharp rang
     On shield and breast-plate, and the clang
     Of sword resounded in the press
     Of battle, like the splitting ice;
     For Harald, wild wolf of the wood,
     Must drink his fill of foeman's blood."

Gunhild's sons resided mostly in the middle of the country, for they did not think it safe for them to dwell among the people of Throndhjem or of Viken, where King Hakon's best friends lived; and also in both places there were many powerful men. Proposals of agreement then passed between Gunhild~s sons and Earl Sigurd, œor they got no scat from the Throndhjem country; and at last an agreement was concluded between the kings and the earl, and confirmed by oath. Earl Sigurd was to get the same power in the Throndhjem land which he had possessed under King Hakon, and on that they considered themselves at peace. All Gunhild's sons had the character of being penurious; and it was said they hid their money in the ground. Eyvind Skaldaspiller made a song about this: --

     "Main-mast of battle!  Harald bold!
     In Hakon's days the skald wore gold
     Upon his falcon's seat; he wore
     Rolf Krake's seed, the yellow ore
     Sown by him as he fled away,
     The avenger Adils' speed to stay.
     The gold crop grows upon the plain;
     But Frode's girls so gay (1) in vain
     Grind out the golden meal, while those
     Who rule o'er Norway's realm like foes,
     In mother earth's old bosom hide
     The wealth which Hakon far and wide
     Scattered with generous hand: the sun
     Shone in the days of that great one,
     On the gold band of Fulla's brow,(2)
     On gold-ringed hands that bend the bow,
     On the skald's hand; but of the ray
     Of bright gold, glancing like the spray
     Of sun-lit waves, no skald now sings --
     Buried are golden chains and rings."
Now when King Harald heard this song, he sent a message to Eyvind
to come to him, and when Eyvind came made a charge against him of
being unfaithful.  "And it ill becomes thee," said the king, "to
be my enemy, as thou hast entered into my service."  Eyvind then
made these verses: --
     "One lord I had before thee, Harald!
     One dear-loved lord!  Now am I old,
     And do not wish to change again, --
     To that loved lord, through strife and pain,
     Faithful I stood; still true to Hakon, --
     To my good king, and him alone.
     But now I'm old and useless grown,
     My hands are empty, wealth is flown;
     I am but fir for a short space
     In thy court-hall to fill a place."
But King Harald forced Eyvind to submit himself to his clemency.
Eyvind had a great gold ring, which was called Molde, that had
been dug up out of the earth long since.  This ring the King said
he must have as the mulet for the offence; and there was no help
for it.  Then Eyvind sang: --
     "I go across the ocean-foam,
     Swift skating to my Iceland home
     Upon the ocean-skates, fast driven
     By gales by Thurse's witch fire given.
     For from the falcon-bearing hand
     Harald has plucked the gold snake band
     My father wore -- by lawless might
     Has taken what is mine by right."
Eyvind went home; but it is not told that he ever came near the
king again.



(1)  Menja and Fenja were strong girls of the giant race, whom

     Frode bought in Sweden to grind gold and good luck to him;

     and their meal means gold.

(2)  Fulla was one of Frig's attendants, who wore a gold band on

     the forehead, and the figure means gold, -- that the sun

     shone on gold rings on the hands of the skalds in Hakon's







Gunhild's sons embraced Christianity in England, as told before;

but when they came to rule over Norway they made no progress in

spreading Christianity -- only they pulled down the temples of

the idols, and cast away the sacrifices where they had it in

their power, and raised great animosity by doing so.  The good

crops of the country were soon wasted in their days, because

there were many kings, and each had his court about him.  They

had therefore great expenses, and were very greedy.  Besides,

they only observed those laws of King Hakon which suited

themselves.  They were, however, all of them remarkably handsome

men -- stout, strong, and expert in all exercises.  So says Glum

Geirason, in the verses he composed about Harald, Gunhild's son:

     "The foeman's terror, Harald bold,
     Had gained enough of yellow gold;
     Had Heimdal's teeth (1) enough in store,
     And understood twelve arts or more."
The brothers sometimes went out on expeditions together, and
sometimes each on his own account.  They were fierce, but brave
and active; and great warriors, and very successful.



(1)  Heimdal was one of the gods, whose horse was called Gold-

     top; and the horse's teeth were of gold.






Gunhild the King-mother, and her sons, often met, and talked

together upon the government of the country.  Once Gunhild asked

her sons what they intended to do with their kingdom of

Throndhjem.  "Ye have the title of king, as your forefathers had

before you; but ye have little land or people, and there are many

to divide with.  In the East, at Viken, there are Trygve and

Gudrod; and they have some right, from relationship, to their

governments.  There is besides Earl Sigurd ruling over the whole

Throndhjem country; and no reason can I see why ye let so large a

kingdom be ruled by an earl, and not by yourselves.  It appears

wonderful to me that ye go every summer upon viking cruises

against other lands, and allow an earl within the country to take

your father's heritage from you.  Your grandfather, whose name

you bear, King Harald, thought it but a small matter to take an

earl's life and land when he subdued all Norway, and held it

under him to old age."


Harald replied, "It is not so easy, mother, to cut off Earl

Sigurd as to slay a kid or a calf.  Earl Sigurd is of high birth,

powerful in relations, popular, and prudent; and I think if the

Throndhjem people knew for certain there was enmity between us,

they would all take his side, and we could expect only evil from

them.  I don't think it would be safe for any of us brothers to

fall into the hands of the Throndhjem people."


Then said Gunhild, "We shall go to work another way, and not put

ourselves forward.  Harald and Erling shall come in harvest to

North More, and there I shall meet you, and we shall consult

together what is to be done."  This was done.






Earl Sigurd had a brother called Grjotgard, who was much younger,

and much less respected; in fact, was held in no title of honour.

He had many people, however, about him, and in summer went on

viking cruises, and gathered to himself property.  Now King

Harald sent messengers to Throndhjem with offers of friendship,

and with presents.  The messengers declared that King Harald was

willing to be on the same friendly terms with the earl that King

Hakon had been; adding, that they wished the earl to come to King

Harald, that their friendship might be put on a firm footing.

The Earl Sigurd received well the king's messengers and friendly

message, but said that on account of his many affairs he could

not come to the king.  He sent many friendly gifts, and many glad

and grateful words to the king, in return for his friendship.

With this reply the messengers set off, and went to Grjotgard,

for whom they had the same message, and brought him good

presents, and offered him King Harald's friendship, and invited

him to visit the king.  Grjotgard promised to come and at the

appointed time he paid a visit to King Harald and Gunhild, and

was received in the most friendly manner.  They treated him on

the most intimate footing, so that Grjotgard had access to their

private consultations and secret councils.  At last the

conversation, by an understanding between the king and queen, was

turned upon Earl Sigurd; and they spoke to Grjotgard about the

earl having kept him so long in obscurity, and asked him if he

would not join the king's brothers in an attack on the earl.  If

he would join with them, the king promised Grjotgard that he

should be his earl, and have the same government that Sigurd had.

It came so far that a secret agreement was made between them,

that Grjotgard should spy out the most favourable opportunity of

attacking by surprise Earl Sigurd, and should give King Harald

notice of it.  After this agreement Grjotgard returned home with

many good presents from the king.






Earl Sigurd went in harvest into Stjoradal to guest-quarters, and

from thence went to Oglo to a feast.  The earl usually had many

people about him, for he did not trust the king; but now, after

friendly messages had passed between the king and him, he had no

great following of people with him.  Then Grjotgard sent word to

the king that he could never expect a better opportunity to fall

upon Earl Sigurd; and immediately, that very evening, Harald and

Erling sailed into Throndhjem fjord with several ships and many

people.  They sailed all night by starlight, and Grjotgard came

out to meet them.  Late in the night they came to Oglo, where

Earl Sigurd was at the feast, and set fire to the house; and

burnt the house, the earl, and all his men.  As soon as it was

daylight, they set out through the fjord, and south to More,

where they remained a long time.






Hakon, the son of Earl Sigurd, was up in the interior of the

Throndhjem country when he heard this news.  Great was the tumult

through all the Throndhjem land, and every vessel that could swim

was put into the water; and as soon as the people were gathered

together they took Earl Sigurd's son Hakon to be their earl and

the leader of the troops, and the whole body steered out of

Throndhjem fjord.  When Gunhild's sons heard of this, they set

off southwards to Raumsdal and South More; and both parties kept

eye on each other by their spies.  Earl Sigurd was killed two

years after the fall of King Hakon (A.D. 962).  So says Eyvind

Skaldaspiller in the "Haleygjatal": --

     "At Oglo. as I've heard, Earl Sigurd
     Was burnt to death by Norway's lord, --
     Sigurd, who once on Hadding's grave
     A feast to Odin's ravens gave.
     In Oglo's hall, amidst the feast,
     When bowls went round and ale flowed fast,
     He perished: Harald lit the fire
     Which burnt to death the son of Tyr."
Earl Hakan, with the help of his friends, maintained himself in
the Throndhjem country for three years; and during that time
(A.D. 963-965) Gunhild's sons got no revenues from it.  Hakon had
many a battle with Gunhild's sons, and many a man lost his life
on both sides.  Of this Einar Skalaglam speaks in his lay, called
"Vellekla," which he composed about Earl Hakon: --
     "The sharp bow-shooter on the sea
     Spread wide his fleet, for well loved he
     The battle storm: well loved the earl
     His battle-banner to unfurl,
     O'er the well-trampled battle-field
     He raised the red-moon of his shield;
     And often dared King Eirik's son
     To try the fray with the Earl Hakon."
And he also says-
     "Who is the man who'll dare to say
     That Sigurd's son avoids the fray?
     He gluts the raven -- he ne'er fears
     The arrow's song or flight of spears,
     With thundering sword he storms in war,
     As Odin dreadful; or from far
     He makes the arrow-shower fly
     To swell the sail of victory.
     The victory was dearly bought,
     And many a viking-fight was fought
     Before the swinger of the sword
     Was of the eastern country lord."
And Einar tells also how Earl Hakon avenged his father's
murderer: --
     "I praise the man, my hero he,
     Who in his good ship roves the sea,
     Like bird of prey, intent to win
     Red vengeance for his slaughtered kin.
     From his blue sword the iron rain
     That freezes life poured down amain
     On him who took his father's life,
     On him and his men in the strife.
     To Odin many a soul was driven, --
     To Odin many a rich gift given.
     Loud raged the storm on battle-field --
     Axe rang on helm, and sword on shield."
The friends on both sides at last laid themselves between, and
brought proposals of peace; for the bondes suffered by this
strife and war in the land.  At last it was brought to this, by
the advice of prudent men, that Earl Hakon should have the same
power in the Throndhjem land which his father Earl Sigurd had
enjoyed; and the kings, on the other hand, should have the same
dominion as King Hakon had: and this agreement was settled with
the fullest promises of fidelity to it.  Afterwards a great
friendship arose between Earl Hakon and Gunhild, although they
sometimes attempted to deceive each other.  And thus matters
stood for three years longer (A.D. 966-968), in which time Earl
Hakon sat quietly in his dominions.





King Hakon had generally his seat in Hordaland and Rogaland, and

also his brothers; but very often, also, they went to Hardanger.

One summer it happened that a vessel came from Iceland belonging

to Icelanders, and loaded with skins and peltry.  They sailed to

Hardanger, where they heard the greatest number of people

assembled; but when the folks came to deal with them, nobody

would buy their skins.  Then the steersman went to King Harald,

whom he had been acquainted with before, and complained of his

ill luck.  The king promised to visit him, and did so.  King

Harald was very condescending, and full of fun.  He came with a

fully manned boat, looked at the skins, and then said to the

steersman, "Wilt thou give me a present of one of these gray-

skins?"  "Willingly," said the steersman, "if it were ever so

many."  On this the king wrapped himself up in a gray-skin, and

went back to his boat; but before they rowed away from the ship,

every man in his suite bought such another skin as the king wore

for himself.  In a few days so many people came to buy skins,

that not half of them could be served with what they wanted; and

thereafter the king was called Harald Grafeld (Grayskin).






Earl Hakon came one winter to the Uplands to a feast, and it so

happened that he had intercourse with a girl of mean birth.  Some

time after the girl had to prepare for her confinement, and she

bore a child, a boy, who had water poured on him, and was named

Eirik.  The mother carried the boy to Earl Hakon, and said that

he was the father.  The earl placed him to be brought up with a

man called Thorleif the Wise, who dwelt in Medaldal, and was a

rich and powerful man, and a great friend of the earl.  Eirik

gave hopes very early that he would become an able man, was

handsome in countenance, and stout and strong for a child; but

the earl did not pay much attention to him.  The earl himself was

one of the handsomest men in countenance, -- not tall, but very

strong, and well practised in all kinds of exercises; and witha1

prudent, of good understanding, and a deadly man at arms.






It happened one harvest (A.D. 962) that Earl Hakon, on a journey

in the Uplands, came to Hedemark; and King Trygve Olafson and

King Gudrod Bjornson met him there, and Dale-Gudbrand also came

to the meeting.  They had agreed to meet, and they talked

together long by themselves; but so much only was known of their

business, that they were to be friends of each other.  They

parted, and each went home to his own kingdom.  Gunhild and her

sons came to hear of this meeting, and they suspected it must

have been to lay a treasonable plot against the kings; and they

often talked of this among themselves.  When spring (A.D. 963)

began to set in, King Harald and his brother King Gudrod

proclaimed that they were to make a viking cruise, as usual,

either in the West sea, or the Baltic.  The people accordingly

assembled, launched the ships into the sea, and made themselves

ready to sail.  When they were drinking the farewell ale, -- and

they drank bravely, -- much and many things were talked over at

the drink-table, and, among other things, were comparisons

between different men, and at last between the kings themselves.

One said that King Harald excelled his brothers by far, and in

every way.  On this King Gudrod was very angry, and said that he

was in no respect behind Harald, and was ready to prove it.

Instantly both parties were so inflamed that they challenged each

other to battle, and ran to their arms.  But some of the guests

who were less drunk, and had more understanding, came between

them, and quieted them; and each went to his ship, but nobody

expected that they would all sail together.  Gudrod sailed east

ward along the land, and Harald went out to sea, saying he would

go to the westward; but when he came outside of the islands he

steered east along the coast, outside of the rocks and isles.

Gudrod, again, sailed inside, through the usual channel, to

Viken, and eastwards to Folden.  He then sent a message to King

Trygve to meet him, that they might make a cruise together in

summer in the Baltic to plunder.  Trygve accepted willingly, and

as a friend, the invitation; and as heard King Gudrod had but few

people with him, he came to meet him with a single boat.  They

met at Veggen, to the east of Sotanes; but just as they were come

to the meeting place, Gudrod's men ran up and killed King Trygve

and twelve men.  He lies buried at a place called Trygve's Cairn

(A.D. 963).






King Harald sailed far outside of the rocks and isles; but set

his course to Viken, and came in the night-time to Tunsberg, and

heard that Gudrod Bjornson was at a feast a little way up the

country.  Then King Harald set out immediately with his

followers, came in the night, and surrounded the house.  King

Gudrod Bjornson went out with his people; but after a short

resistance he fell, and many men with him.  Then King Harald

joined his brother King Gudrod, and they subdued all Viken.






King Gudrod Bjornson had made a good and suitable marriage, and

had by his wife a son called Harald, who had been sent to be

fostered to Grenland to a lenderman called Hroe the White.

Hroe's son, called Hrane Vidforle (the Far-travelled), was

Harald's foster-brother, and about the same age.  After his

father Gudrod's fall, Harald, who was called Grenske, fled to the

Uplands, and with him his foster-brother Hrane, and a few people.

Harald staid a while there among his relations; but as Eirik's

sons sought after every man who interfered with them, and

especially those who might oppose them, Harald Grenske's friends

and relations advised him to leave the country.  Harald therefore

went eastward into Svithjod, and sought shipmates, that he might

enter into company with those who went out a cruising to gather

property.  Harald became in this way a remarkably able man.

There was a man in Svithjod at that time called Toste, one of the

most powerful and clever in the land among those who had no high

name or dignity; and he was a great warrior, who had been often

in battle, and was therefore called Skoglar-Toste.  Harald

Grenske came into his company, and cruised with Toste in summer;

and wherever Harald came he was well thought of by every one.  In

the winter Harald, after passing two years in the Uplands, took

up his abode with Toste, and lived five years with him.  Toste

had a daughter, who was both young and handsome, but she was

proud and high-minded.  She was called Sigrid, and was afterwards

married to the Swedish king, Eirik the Victorious, and had a son

by him, called Olaf the Swede, who was afterwards king of

Svithjod.  King Eirik died in a sick-bed at Upsala ten years

after the death of Styrbjorn.






Gunhild's sons levied a great army in Viken (A.D. 963), and

sailed along the land northwards, collecting people and ships on

the way out of every district.  They then made known their

intent, to proceed northwards with their army against Earl Hakon

in Throndhjem.  When Earl Hakon heard this news, he also

collected men, and fitted out ships; and when he heard what an

overwhelming force Gunhild's sons had with them, he steered south

with his fleet to More, pillaging wherever he came, and killing

many people.  He then sent the whole of the bonde army back to

Throndhjem; but he himself, with his men-at-arms, proceeded by

both the districts of More and Raumsdal, and had his spies out to

the south of Stad to spy the army of Gunhild's sons; and when he

heard they were come into the Fjords, and were waiting for a fair

wind to sail northwards round Stad, Earl Hakon set out to sea

from the north side of Stad, so far that his sails could not be

seen from the land, and then sailed eastward on a line with the

coast, and came to Denmark, from whence he sailed into the

Baltic, and pillaged there during the summer.  Gunhild's sons

conducted their army north to Throndhjem, and remained there the

whole summer collecting the scat and duties.  But when summer was

advanced they left Sigurd Slefa and Gudron behind; and the other

brothers returned eastward with the levied army they had taken up

in summer.






Earl Hakon, towards harvest (A.D. 963), sailed into the Bothnian

Gulf to Helsingjaland, drew his ships up there on the beach, and

took the land-ways through Helsingjaland and Jamtaland, and so

eastwards round the dividing ridge (the Kjol, or keel of the

country), and down into the Throndhjem district.  Many people

streamed towards him, and he fitted out ships.  When the sons of

Gunhild heard of this they got on board their ships, and sailed

out of the Fjord; and Earl Hakon came to his seat at Hlader, and

remained there all winter.  The sons of Gunhild, on the other

hand, occupied More; and they and the earl attacked each other in

turns, killing each other's people. Earl Hakon kept his dominions

of Throndhjem, and was there generally in the winter; but in

summer he sometimes went to Helsingjaland, where he went on board

of his ships and sailed with them down into the Baltic, and

plundered there; and sometimes he remained in Throndhjem, and

kept an army on foot, so that Gunhild's sons could get no hold

northwards of Stad.






One summer Harald Grayskin with his troops went north to

Bjarmaland, where be forayed, and fought a great battle with the

inhabitants on the banks of the Vina (Dwina).  King Harald gained

the victory, killed many people, plundered and wasted and burned

far and wide in the land, and made enormous booty.  Glum Geirason

tells of it thus: --

     "I saw the hero Harald chase
     With bloody sword Bjarme's race:
     They fly before him through the night,
     All by their burning city's light.
     On Dwina's bank, at Harald's word,
     Arose the storm of spear and sword.
     In such a wild war-cruise as this,
     Great would he be who could bring peace."
King Sigurd Slefa came to the Herse Klyp's house.  Klyp was a son
of Thord, and a grandson of Hordakare, and was a man of power and
great family.  He was not at home; but his wife Alof give a good
reception to the king, and made a great feast at which there was
much drinking.  Alof was a daughter of Asbjorn, and sister to
Jarnskegge, north in Yrjar.  Asbjorn's brother was called
Hreidar, who was father to Styrkar, whose son was Eindride,
father of Einar Tambaskielfer.  In the night the king went to bed
to Alof against her will, and then set out on his journey.  The
harvest thereafter, King Harald and his brother King Sigurd Slefa
went to Vors, and summoned the bondes to a Thing.  There the
bondes fell on them, and would have killed them, but they escaped
and took different roads.  King Harald went to Hardanger, but
King Sigurd to Alrekstader.  Now when the Herse Klyp heard of
this, he and his relations assembled to attack the king; and
Vemund Volubrjot (1) was chief of their troop.  Now when they
came to the house they attacked the king, and Herse Klyp, it is
said, ran him through with his sword and killed him; but
instantly Klyp was killed on the spot by Erling Gamle (A.D. 965).



(1)  Volubrjotr. -- Literally "the one who breaks the vala", that

     is, breaks the skulls of witches.






King Harald Grafeld and his brother King Gudrod gathered together

a great army in the east country, with which they set out

northwards to Throndhjem (A.D. 968).  When Earl Hakon heard of it

he collected men, and set out to More, where he plundered.  There

his father's brother, Grjotgard, had the command and defence of

the country on account of Gunhild's sons, and he assembled an

army by order of the kings.  Earl Hakon advanced to meet him, and

gave him battle; and there fell Grjotgard and two other earls,

and many a man besides.  So says Einar Skalaglam: --

     "The helm-crown'd Hakon, brave as stout,
     Again has put his foes to rout.
     The bowl runs o'er with Odin's mead, (1)
     That fires the skald when mighty deed
     Has to be sung.  Earl Hakon's sword,
     In single combat, as I've heard,
     Three sons of earls from this one fray
     To dwell with Odin drove away." (2)
Thereafter Earl Hakon went out to sea, and sailed outside the
coast, and came to Denmark.  He went to the Danish King, Harald
Gormson, and was well received by him, and staid with him all
winter (A.D. 969).  At that time there was also with the Danish
king a man called Harald, a son of Knut Gormson, and a brother's
son of King Harald.  He was lately come home from a long viking
cruise, on which he had gathered great riches, and therefore he
was called Gold Harald.  He thought he had a good chance of
coming to the Danish kingdom.




(1)  Odin's mead, called Bodn, was the blood or mead the sons of

     Brage, the god of poets, drank to inspire them. -- L.

(2)  To dwell with Odin, -- viz. slew them. -- L.






King Harald Grafeld and his brothers proceeded northwards to

Throndhjem, where they met no opposition.  They levied the

scat-duties, and all other revenues, and laid heavy penalties

upon the bondes; for the kings had for a long time received but

little income from Throndhjem, because Earl Hakon was there with

many troops, and was at variance with these kings.  In autumn

(A.D. 968) King Harald went south with the greater part of the

men-at-arms, but King Erlin remained behind with his men.  He

raised great contributions from the bondes, and pressed severely

on them; at which the bondes murmured greatly, and submitted to

their losses with impatience.  In winter they gathered together

in a great force to go against King Erling, just as he was at a

feast; and they gave battle to him, and he with the most of his

men fell (A.D. 969).






While Gunhild's sons reigned in Norway the seasons were always

bad, and the longer they reigned the worse were the crops; and

the bondes laid the blame on them. They were very greedy, and

used the bondes harshly.  It came at length to be so bad that

fish, as well as corn, were wanting.  In Halogaland there was the

greatest famine and distress; for scarcely any corn grew, and

even snow was lying, and the cattle were bound in the byres (1)

all over the country until midsummer.  Eyvind Skaldaspiller

describes it in his poem, as he came outside of his house and

found a thick snowdrift at that season: --

     "Tis midsummer, yet deep snows rest
     On Odin's mother's frozen breast:
     Like Laplanders, our cattle-kind
     In stall or stable we must bind."

(1)  Byres = gards or farms.





Eyvind composed a poem about the people of Iceland, for which

they rewarded him by each bonde giving him three silver pennies,

of full weight and white in the fracture.  And when the silver

was brought together at the Althing, the people resolved to have

it purified, and made into a row of clasps; and after the

workmanship of the silver was paid, the row of clasps was valued

at fifty marks.  This they sent to Eyvind; but Eyvind was obliged

to separate the clasps from each other, and sell them to buy food

for his household.  But the same spring a shoal of herrings set

in upon the fishing ground beyond the coast-side, and Eyvind

manned a ship's boat with his house servants and cottars, and

rowed to where the herrings were come, and sang: --

     "Now let the steed of ocean bound
     O'er the North Sea with dashing sound:
     Let nimble tern and screaming gull
     Fly round and round -- our net is full.
     Fain would I know if Fortune sends
     A like provision to my friends.
     Welcome provision 'tis, I wot,
     That the whale drives to our cook's pot."
So entirely were his movable goods exhausted, that he was obliged
to sell his arrows to buy herrings, or other meat for his table:
     "Our arms and ornaments of gold
     To buy us food we gladly sold:
     The arrows of the bow gave we
     For the bright arrows of the sea." (1)

(1)  Herrings, from their swift darting along, are called the
     arrows of the sea.