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Re: [norse_course] Njall 155 beginning / Alan's Translation

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  • Brian M. Scott
    At 4:50:55 AM on Tuesday, November 17, 2009, AThompson ... I ve not looked at anything else yet, but I had a go at the verse. Out of habit I ve used a more
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 17 10:02 PM
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      At 4:50:55 AM on Tuesday, November 17, 2009, AThompson

      > Here’s my translation. I will leave the verse for others
      > to unravel :-)

      I've not looked at anything else yet, but I had a go at the
      verse. Out of habit I've used a more traditional
      normalization, and I've changed the punctuation a bit.

      Hrósa hildar fúsir,
      hvat hafa til fregit skatnar
      hvé, ráfáka, rákum,
      rennendr Níals brennu;
      varðat veiti-Njörðum
      víðeims at þat síðan
      (hrátt gat hrafn at slíta
      hold) slæliga goldit.

      Here's a stab at a fairly literal translation, which I've
      attempted to punctuate in such a way that it's not
      *completely* unintelligible as English:

      [They] boast, battle-eager --
      what have men heard of
      how we drove [them]? -- spar-horses'
      drivers, of Njál's burning;
      not were giving-Njörðs
      of sea-fire after that
      ([the] raven could tear raw
      flesh) listlessly repaid.

      I'm interpreting it as if a prose version read something
      like this:

      Hildar fúsir rennendr ráfáka hrósa brennu Níals; hvat hafa
      skatnar fregit til, hvé rákum? Viðeims veiti-Njörðum
      varðat goldit slæliga síðan at þat: hrafn gat hrátt hold
      at slíta.

      <Hildar> is the gen. sing. of <hildr> 'battle' (poet.).
      <Fúsir> is the nom. pl. of <fúss> 'eager'. <Rennendr> is
      the nom. pl. of <rennandi> 'one who makes (something) run',
      from the past part. of <renna> 'to make run'; it's the only
      nom. pl. noun in sight, so it must be what <fúsir> modifies.
      <Fákr> is 'horse' (poet.), and <rá> is 'a sail-yard, a
      spar', so <ráfákr> is 'a sail-yard horse, a spar-horse',
      i.e., a ship. <Ráfáka> can only be the gen. or acc. pl.;
      here it seems to be a gen. pl., <rennendr ráfáka> being
      'drivers of spar-horses', i.e., 'seamen', and by extension
      simply 'men, warriors'. <Hrósa> is 'to praise', but CV
      notes that it often has a sense of 'boast', which seems more
      appropriate here; the thing praised or boasted of is in the
      dative, here <brennu Níals> 'Njál's burning'. The first
      clause is then:

      Battle-eager men boast of Njál's burning.

      <Skatnar> is the nom. pl. of <skati> 'man' (poet.).
      <Fregit> is the past part. of <fregna> 'to hear of, be
      informed of', in the neut. sing. acc. to agree with the
      object <hvat>. <Rákum> is 3pl. pret. indic. of <reka> 'to
      drive, to pursue'. The second clause is:

      What have men heard of how we drove [them off]?

      <Víðeims> is the gen. sing. of <víðeimr>, which seems to be
      a compound of <víðir> 'the wide sea, the main' (poet.)
      [found in CV but not in Z] and <eimr> 'reek, vapor' [in CV,
      and in Z s.v. <eimi>], poetically used as a metaphor for
      fire. <Víðeimr> 'sea-fire' is a kenning for gold. <Veiti->
      appears to be from <veita> 'to give', and <Njörðr> is one of
      the of the Vanir. The name is from PGmc. *Nerþuz, so it's a
      u-stem, like <skjöldr> 'a shield', and declines similarly.
      In particular, <Njörðum> is a dat. pl., so the nom. is
      <veiti-Nirðir> 'giving-Njörðs', and <víðeims veiti-Nirðir>
      are 'gold's giving-Njörðs', hence 'gold's giving-gods',
      whence 'generous gods', 'generous men', and finally simply
      'men'. <Slæliga> is 'without energy, slowly, dully'.
      <Goldit> is the neut. nom. sing. past part. of <gjalda> 'to
      (re)pay', and <varðat> seems to be <varð-at>, the past tense
      of <verða> with the negative suffix <-at>. The third clause
      is then:

      Men were not repaid listlessly after that.

      This looks like a fairly typical litotes, an understated way
      of saying that they were vigorously repaid for the burning.

      Finally, <hrafn gat hrátt hold at slíta> is straightforward:

      [The] raven was able to tear raw flesh.

      The overall sense seems to be:

      The battle-eager warriors boast of Njál's burning, but
      what have men heard of how we drove them off? They were
      vigorously repaid for their eagerness: ravens feasted on
      their raw flesh.

    • bmscotttg
      ... [...] ... I think that your eye slipped to the next entry: is glossed to coincide . (This of course makes your interpretation basically
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 18 9:34 AM
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        --- In norse_course@yahoogroups.com, "AThompson" <athompso@...> wrote:


        > Bar (bera) það saman og þá var Gunnar að að segja söguna

        > That happened (see bera saman, Z.II.2) together and then (This
        > event coincided with the moment?) Gunnar was busy at (see vera at,
        > Z10) telling the story

        I think that your eye slipped to the next entry: <bera saman> is
        glossed 'to coincide'. (This of course makes your interpretation
        basically right anyway: they arrived at the hall as G. was telling
        the story.)


        > Urðu borðin í blóði einu

        > The tables became (covered) in blood alone (?)

        Compare <var þat raufar einar> 'it was all in holes, mere tatters'
        (Zoëga s.v. <einn> (7); I make it 'the tables were all over blood'.
        CV s.v. <einn> A.III.beta actually has this clause, glossing it
        'the tables were bedabbled with blood all over'. (Tables that are
        <í blóði einu> appear in other sagas, too.)


        > Sigtryggur konungur mælti: "Þessi var herðimaður mikill fyrir sér

        > King Sigtrygg spoke: `This was a great `king's-man' within himself

        Zoëga s.v. <fyrir> (13): <mikill f[yrir] sér> 'strong, powerful'.

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