1. King Regner Lodbrog was a celebrated Poet, Warrior, and (what was the
same thing in those ages) Pirate; who reigned in Denmark, about
the beginning of the ninth century. After many warlike expeditions
by sea and land, he at length met with bad fortune. He was taken in
battle by his adversary Ella king of Northumberland. War in those
rude ages was carried on with the fame inhumanity, as it is now
among the savages of North-America: their prisoners were only reserved
to be put to death with torture. Regner was accordingly thrown
into a dungeon to be stung to death by serpents. While he was
dying he composed this song, wherein he records all the valiant
atchievements of his life, and threatens Ella with vengeance;
which history informs us was afterwards executed by the sons of
2. It is, after all, conjectured that Regner himself only composed a few
stanzas of this poem, and that the rest were added by his Scald or poet-laureat, whose business it was to add
to the solemnities of his funeral by singing some poem in his
praise. L’Edda par Chev. Mallet, p. 150
3. This piece is translated from the Islandic original published by Olaus
Wormius in his Literatura Runica Hafniæ
4to.1631.— Ibidem, 2. Edit. Fol.
4. N. B. Thora, mentioned in the first stanza, was daughter of some little
Gothic prince, whose palace was infested by a large serpent; he
offered his daughter in marriage to any one that would kill the
monster and set her free. Regner accomplished the atchievement and
acquired the name of Lod-brog,
which signifies ROUGH or HAIRY-BREECHES, because he cloathed
himself all over in rough or hairy skins before he made the
attack. [Vide Saxon Gram. pag. 152, 153.]
—This is the poetical account of this adventure: but
history informs us that Thora was kept prisoner by one of her
father’s vassals, whose name was Orme
or Serpent, and that it was from this man
that Regner delivered her, clad in the aforesaid shaggy armour.
But he himself chuses to commemorate it in the most poetical manner.
Vide Chev. Mallet Introd. a L ’Hist. de Dannemarc. pag.201.
We fought with swords: *** when in Gothland I slew an enormous serpent:
my reward was the beauteous Thora. Thence I was deemed a man: they
called me Lodbrog from that slaughter.*** I thrust the monster
through with my spear, with the steel productive of splendid
We fought with swords: I was very young, when towards the East, in the
straights of Eirar, we gained rivers of blood† for the ravenous wolf: ample food for the
yellow-footed fowl. There the hard iron sung upon the lofty
helmets. The whole ocean was one wound. The raven waded in the blood of
† Literally “Rivers of
wounds.”—By the yellow-footed fowl is meant
We fought with swords: we lifted high our lances; when I had numbered
twenty years, and every where acquired great renown. We conquered
eight barons at the mouth of the Danube. We procured ample
entertainment for the eagle in that slaughter. Bloody sweat fell in the
ocean of wounds. A host of men there lost their lives.
We fought with swords: we enjoyed the fight, when we sent the inhabitants
of Helsing to the habitation of the gods†. We failed up the Vistula. Then the
sword acquired spoils: the whole ocean was one wound: the earth
grew red with reeking gore: the sword grinned at the coats of mail: the
sword cleft the shields asunder.
† Literally, “to the hall of
We fought with swords: I well remember that no one fled that day in the
battle before in the ships Herauder  fell. There does not a fairer warrior
divide the ocean with his vessels. *** This prince ever brought to
the battle a gallant heart.
We fought with swords: the army cast away their shields. Then flew the
spear to the breasts of the warriors. The sword in the fight cut
the very rocks: the shield was all besmeared with blood, before
king Rafno fell, our foe. The warm sweat run down from the heads on the
coats of mail.
We fought with swords, before the isles of Indir. We gave ample prey for
the ravens to rend in pieces: a banquet for the wild beasts that
feed on flesh. At that time all were valiant: it were difficult to
single out any one. At the rising of the sun, I saw the lances pierce:
the bows darted the arrows from them.
We fought with swords: loud was the din† of arms; before
king Eistin fell in the field. Thence, enriched with golden
spoils, we marched to fight in the land of Vals. There the sword cut the
painted shields.†† In the meeting of helmets, the blood
ran from the wounds: it ran down from the cloven sculls of
† Din is the
word in the Islandic original. Dinn greniudu
†† Literally, “the paintings of the
We fought with swords, before Boring-holmi. We held bloody shields: we
stained our spears. Showers of arrows brake the shield in pieces.
The bow sent forth the glittering steel. Volnir fell in the
conflict, than whom there was not a greater king. Wide on the shores lay
the scattered dead: the wolves rejoiced over their prey.
We fought with swords, in the Flemings land: the battle widely raged
before king Freyr fell therein. The blue steel all reeking with
blood fell at length upon the golden mail. Many a virgin bewailed the
laughter of that morning. The beasts of prey had ample spoil.
We fought with swords, before Ainglanes. There saw I thousands lie dead
in the ships: we failed to the battle for six days before the army
fell. There we celebrated a mass of weapons†. At rising of
the sun Valdiofur fell before our swords.
† This is intended for a
sneer on the Christian religion, which tho’ it had not
gained any footing in the northern nations, when this Ode
was written, was not wholly unknown to them. Their piratical
expeditions into the southern countries had given them
some notion of it, but by no means a favourable one: they
considered it as the religion of cowards, because it would
have corrected their savage manners.
We fought with swords, at Bardafyrda. A mower of blood rained from our
weapons. Headlong fell the palid corpse a prey for the hawks. The
bow gave a twanging found. The blade sharply bit the coats of
mail: it bit the helmet in the fight. The arrow sharp with poison and
all besprinkled with bloody sweat ran to the wound.
We fought with swords, before the bay of Hiadning. We held aloft magic
shields in the play of battle. Then might you see men, who rent
shields with their swords. The helmets were mattered in the murmur
of the warriors. The pleasure of that day was like having a fair virgin
placed beside one in the bed. 
We fought with swords, in the Northumbrian land. A furious storm
descended on the shields: many a lifeless body fell to the earth.
It was about the time of the morning, when the foe was compelled to fly
in the battle. There the sword sharply bit the polished helmet.
The pleasure of that day was like killing a young widow at the
highest feat of the table.
We fought with swords, in the isles of the south. There Herthiose proved
victorious: there died many of our valiant warriors. In the mower
of arms Rogvaldur fell: I lost my son. In the play of arms came
the deadly spear: his lofty crest was dyed with gore. The birds of prey
bewailed his fall: they loft him that prepared them banquets.
We fought with swords, in the Irish plains. The bodies of the warriors
lay intermingled. The hawk rejoiced at the play of swords. The
Irish king did not act the part of the eagle***. Great was the conflict
of sword and shield. King Marstan was killed in the bay: he was
given a prey to the hungry ravens.
We fought with swords: the spear resounded: the banners shone† upon the coats of mail. I saw many
a warrior fall in the morning: many a hero in the contention of
arms. Here the sword reached betimes the heart of my son: it was
Egill deprived Agnar of life. He was a youth, who never knew what it was
† Or more properly
“reflected the sunshine up on the coat of
We fought with swords, at Skioldunga. We kept our words: we carved out
with our weapons a plenteous banquet for the wolves of the
sea†. The ships were all besmeared
with crimson, as if for many days the maidens had brought and
poured forth wine. All rent was the mail in the clash of arms.
† A poetical name
for the fishes of prey.
We fought with swords, when Harold fell. I saw him strugling in the
twilight of death; that young chief so proud of his flowing
locks†: he who
spent his mornings among the young maidens: he who loved to
converse with the handsome widows. ****
† He means Harold
Harfax king of Norway.— Harfax
(synonymous to our English Fairfax)
We fought with swords: we fought three kings in the isle of Lindis. Few
had reason to rejoice that day. Many fell into the jaws of the
wild-beasts. The hawk and the wolf tore the flesh of the dead: they
departed glutted with their prey. The blood of the Irish fell
plentifully into the ocean, during the time of that slaughter.
We fought with swords, at the isle of Onlug. The uplifted weapon bit the
shields. The gilded lance grated on the mail. The traces of that
fight will be seen for ages. There kings marched up to the play of
arms. The mores of the sea were stained with blood. The lances appeared
like flying dragons.
We fought with swords. Death is the happy portion of the brave†, for he stands
the foremost against the storm of weapons. He, who flies from
danger, often bewails his miserable life. Yet how difficult is it
to rouze up a coward to the play of arms? The dastard feels no heart in
† The northern warriors
thought none were intitled to Elizium, but such as died in
battle, or underwent a violent death.
We fought with swords. Young men should march up to the conflict of arms:
man should meet man and never give way. In this hath always
consisted the nobility of the warrior. He, who aspires to the love
of his mistress, ought to be dauntless in the clash of arms.
We fought with swords. Now I find for certain that we are drawn along by
fate. Who can evade the decrees of destiny? Could I have thought
the conclusion of my life reserved for Ella; when almost expiring
I shed torrents of blood? When I launched forth my ships into the deep?
When in the Scottish gulphs I gained large spoils for the
We fought with swords: this fills me still with joy, because I know a
banquet is preparing by the father of the gods. Soon, in the
splendid hall of Odin, we (shall drink Beer
† out of the
sculls of our enemies.  A brave man shrinks not
at death. I shall utter no repining words as I approach the palace of
the gods. 
† Beer and Mead were the only nectar of the northern nations.
Odin alone of all the gods was supposed to drink Wine.
We fought with swords. O that the sons of Aslauga† knew; O that my
children knew the sufferings of their father! that numerous
serpents filled with poison tear me to pieces! Soon would they be here:
soon would they wage bitter war with their swords. I gave a mother
to my children from whom they inherit a valiant heart.
† Aslauga was his second wife, whom he
married after the death of Thora.
We fought with swords. Now I touch on my last moments. I receive a deadly
hurt from the viper. A serpent inhabits the hall of my heart. Soon
mall my sons black their swords in the blood of Ella. They wax red
with fury: they burn with rage. Those gallant youths will not rest till
they have avenged their father.
We fought with swords. Battles fifty and one have been fought under my
banners. From my early youth I learnt to dye my sword in crimson:
I never yet could find a king more valiant than myself. The gods
now invite me to them. Death is not to be lamented.
‘Tis with joy I cease. The goddesses of destiny are come to fetch
me. Odin hath sent them from the habitation of the gods. I mail be
joyfully received into the highest seat; I mall quaff full goblets among
the gods. The hours of my life are past away. I die laughing.