Anonymous: Four Poems from The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue

O God of the Sword-spell

O God of the sword-spell,
you’re unwise to withold your wealth
from me; you’ve deceived
the sword-point’s reddener.
I’ve something else to explain—
‘Serpent-tongue’ as a child
was my name. Now again
here’s my chance to prove why.

I’m Ready to Tread the Isle

I’m ready to tread the isle
where combat is tried
—God grant the poet victory—
a drawn sword in my hand;
into two I’ll slice the hair-seat
of Helga’s kiss-gulper;
finally, with my bright sword,
I’ll sever his head from his neck.

The Poet Doesn’t Know

The poet doesn’t know
which poet will rejoice—
wound-sickles are drawn,
the edge fit to bite leg.
Alone and a widow, the young girl,
the thorn-tray, will hear from the Thing
—though bloodied I might be—
news of her man’s bravery.

My Sword was Stained with Gore

My sword was stained with gore,
but the Odin of swords
sword-swiped me too; on shields
shield-giants were tried overseas.
I think there stood blood-stained
blood-goslings in blood round my brain.
Once more the wound-eager wound-raven
wound-river is fated to wade.

Translated by Diana Whaley

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