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Hákonarmál

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Title: Hákonarmál  
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Subject: Bragi, Fenrir, Kenning, Valhalla, Harald Fairhair, Hávamál, Eric Bloodaxe, Haakon the Good, Poetic Edda, Valkyrie
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Hákonarmál

Hákonarmál is a skaldic poem which the skald Eyvindr skáldaspillir composed about the fall of the Norwegian king Hákon the Good at the battle of Fitjar and his reception in Valhalla. This poem emulates Eiríksmál and is intended to depict the Christian Hákon as a friend to the pagan gods. The poem is preserved in its entirety and is widely considered to be of great beauty.

These are the last three stanzas.

Góðu dœgri
verðr sá gramr of borinn,
es sér getr slíkan sefa.
Hans aldar
mun æ vesa
at góðu getit.
Mun óbundinn
á ýta sjǫt
Fenrisulfr of fara,
áðr jafngóðr
á auða trǫð
konungmaðr komi.
Deyr fé,
deyja frændr
eyðisk land ok láð.
Síz Hákon fór
með heiðin goð,
mǫrg es þjóð of þéuð.
On a good day
is born that great-souled lord
who hath a heart like his;
aye will his times
be told of on earth,
and men will speak of his might.
Unfettered will fare
the Fenriswolf,
and fall on the fields of men,
ere that there cometh
a kingly lord
as good, to stand in his stead.
Cattle die
and kinsmen die,
land and lieges are whelmed;
since Hákon
to the heathen gods fared
many a host is harried. – Hollander's translation
On a good day
will such a king be born
who leaves such a sorrow.
His reign
will forever be
mentioned as good only.
Unfettered will
on earth
Fenrisulfr go,
before as good
on the empty ground
a king will come.
Cattle die,
kinsmen die,
land and sea are destroyed.
Since Hákon left
with heathen gods
many people are oppressed. – Literal translation

The last stanza is clearly related to a stanza from Hávamál. The traditional view is that Hákonarmál borrowed from that poem but it is also possible that the relation is reversed or that both poems drew on a third source.

External links

  • Hákonarmál in Old Norse from heimskringla.no
  • English translation and commentary by Lee M. Hollander
  • Samuel Laing's translation (within its Heimskringla context)
  • Two editions of the poem
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