The Songs That Were Made About The Fight
Steinar was the name of a man who was the son of Onund the Seer, and brother of Dalla, Cormac's mother. He was an unpeaceful man, and lived at Ellidi.
Thither rode Cormac from the holme, to see his kinsman, and told him of the fight, at which he was but ill pleased. Cormac said he meant to leave the country, - "And I want thee to take the money to Bersi."
"Thou art no bold man," said Steinar, "but the money shall be paid if need be."
Cormac was there some nights; his hand swelled much, for it was not dressed.
After that meeting, Holmgang Bersi went to see his brother. Folk asked how the holmgang had gone, and when he told them they said that two bold men had struck small blows, and he had gained the victory only through Cormac's mishap. When Bersi met Steingerd, and she asked how it went, he made this verse:
"They call him, and truly they tell it,
A tree of the helmet right noble:
But the master of manhood must bring me
Three marks for his ransom and rescue.
Though stout in the storm of the bucklers
In the stress of the Valkyrie's tempest
He will bid me no more to the battle,
For the best of the struggle was ours."
Steinar and Cormac rode from Ellidi and passed through Saurbae. They saw men riding towards them, and yonder came Bersi. He greeted Cormac and asked how the wound was getting on. Cormac said it needed little to be healed.
"Wilt thou let me heal thee?" said Bersi; "though from me thou didst get it: and then it will be soon over."
Cormac said nay, for he meant to be his lifelong foe. Then answered Bersi:
"Thou wilt mind thee for many a season
How we met in the high voice of Hilda.
Right fain I go forth to the spear-mote
Being fitted for every encounter.
There Cormac's gay shield from his clutches
I clave with the bane of the bucklers,
For he scorned in the battle to seek me
If we set not the lists of the holmgang."
Thus they parted; and then Cormac went home to Mel and saw his mother. She healed his hand; it had become ugly and healed badly. The notch in Skofnung they whetted, but the more they whetted the bigger it was. So he went to Reykir, and flung Skofnung at Skeggi's feet, with this verse:
"I bring thee, thus broken and edgeless,
The blade that thou gavest me, Skeggi!
I warrant thy weapon could bite not:
I won not the fight by its witchcraft.
No gain of its virtue nor glory
I got in the strife of the weapons,
When we met for to mingle the sword-storm
For the maiden my singing adorns."
Said Skeggi, "It went as I warned thee." Cormac flung forth and went home to Mel: and when he met with Dalla he made this song:-
"To the field went I forth, O my mother
The flame of the armlet who guardest, -
To dare the cave-dweller, my foeman
And I deemed I should smite him in battle.
But the brand that is bruited in story
It brake in my hand as I held it;
And this that should thrust men to slaughter
Is thwarted and let of its might.
For I borrowed to bear in the fighting
No blunt-edged weapon of Skeggi:
There is strength in the serpent that quivers
By the side of the land of the girdle.
But vain was the virtue of Skofnung
When he vanquished the sharpness of Whitting;
And a shard have I shorn, to my sorrow,
From the shearer of ringleted mail.
Yon tusker, my foe, wrought me trouble
When targe upon targe I had carven:
For the thin wand of slaughter was shattered
And it sundered the ground of my handgrip.
Loud bellowed the bear of the sea-king
When he brake from his lair in the scabbard,
At the hest of the singer, who seeketh
The sweet hidden draught of the gods.
Afar must I fare, O my mother,
And a fate points the pathway before me,
For that white-wreathen tree may woo not
- Two wearisome morrows her outcast.
And it slays me, at home to be sitting,
So set is my heart on its goddess,
As a lawn with fair linen made lovely
- I can linger no third morrow's morn."
After that, Cormac went one day to Reykir and talked with Skeggi, who said the holmgang had been brought to scorn. Then answered Cormac:
"Forget it, O Frey of the helmet,
- Lo, I frame thee a song in atonement -
That the bringer of blood, even Skofnung,
I bare thee so strangely belated.
For by stirrers of storm was I wounded;
They smote me where perches the falcon:
But the blade that I borrowed, O Skeggi,
Was borne in the clashing of edges.
I had deemed, O thou Grey of fighting,
Of the fierce song of Odin, - my neighbour,
I had deemed that a brand meet for bloodshed
I bare to the crossways of slaughter.
Nay, - thy glaive, it would gape not nor ravin
Against him, the rover who robbed me:
And on her, as the surge on the shingle,
My soul beats and breaks evermore."