Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Current Read: The Saga of the Faroe Islanders

I am currently reading an 1896 translation of the Faroe Islanders' Saga, an Old Norse saga written around the year 1200. It tells the story of the settlement of those islands, first settled by Irish monks in the 6th Century and by Norwegians in the 9th Century. It is a tale of violence, commerce, and adventure. Here's a selection:

A little while after this Hafgrim left home, and there went with him six men and Guðrið his wife. They took a boat and fared to Sandey, where his kinsmen Snæulf dwelt, the father of Guðrið his wife. When they reached the island, they could see no one out of doors on the farm, nor any one out on the island. Then they went up to the homestead and into the house, and there they found no one. Then they went into the hearth-room, and there was the board set out, and meat and drink on it, but there was no one to be found, and they wondered at that. They stayed there that night, but next morning they made them ready to leave, and rowed away along the island. Then from the other side of the island there rowed out to meet them a boat full of people, and they saw that it was yeoman Snæulf and all his household. So Hafgrim rowed towards them, and greeted Snæulf, his father-in-law, but he answered him not a word. Then Hafgrim asked him what counsel he would give him on his suit with Breste and his brother, so that he might win honour by it. Snæulf answered him: "It is ill-done of thee," says he, "to have meddled without a cause with better men than thyself; but ever the lowest lot fell to thee. ""Methinks I should get something better than blame from thee," says Hafgrim, "and I will not listen to thee. "Then Snæulf snatched up a spear and cast it at Hafgrim, but Hafgrim covered himself with his shield, and the spear stood fast in it, and he was not wounded. So they parted, and Hafgrim fared home to Southrey, and was ill-pleased with his luck.

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