About this Recording
76031-2 - ICELAND - Steindor Andersen: Rimur (Icelandic Epic Song)




Ríma (plural rímur) is a traditional form of narrative Icelandic epic song chanted or intoned in a specific manner called “ad kveda.” The inner structure and content can partially be traced to Eddic and Skaldic poetry of the Viking Age.  The rímur rely on the complex metaphors called “kenningar” (singular kenning) and the poetic synonyms called “heiti.”

The Skaldic poetic stanza was an extremely intricate construct with a unique poetic vocabulary and syntax, frequently employing metaphors within metaphors in a manner reminiscent of the cryptic crossword.


In the 14th century, the ríma started to supplant the earlier forms of poetry – its attraction being a simple metric style with end rhymes, usually divided into three types: ferskeytt, braghent and afhent. While internal rhyme was a central feature of old poetry, end rhyme first appears in the poem “Höfudlausn” (Head Ransom) in the Saga of warrior-poet Egill Skallagrímsson (10th century), where he manages to reprieve his head by heaping praise on his captor, the king of England. End rhyme was then popular in the British Isles and it has been surmised that Egill introduced it to the Icelanders. The form of the ríma also shows influences from other European traditions of the 13th and 14th century:  the short lyric

introduction to each ríma-section called “Mansöngur” (maiden-song) has been traced to Germany, and the style called “blómadur” has a counterpart in the flowery and ornate mode of early French romantic poetry.


The early rímur are primarily based on pre-existing narratives in prose, heroic tales, and mythical or purely fictitious Sagas being those most frequently selected for adaptation into this metrical form. The poet usually begins with a certain number of introductory stanzas, the maiden-song, where he laments his lack of poetic skills and success in the affairs of the heart. He then starts converting the prose narrative into rime. After building to a climax, he breaks off and the first ríma is finished. Then,  usually in a different metre, he begins a new maiden song, followed by a different portion of the tale. This process is repeated until the whole narrative has been worked into metrical form. The subject and the length of the tale can vary in length and scope, and the number of rímur can stretch from two up to a few dozen. Single rímur are less common, but the less formal  “lausavísa” (single stanza) introduced a shorter and simpler form into the tradition. As time went on, the poets took pride in inventing new metrical forms and rhyme structures, and in the 19th century these were counted in the the thousands.


While the literary tradition of the rímur is well documented from the 14th century, there is scant evidence of their actual performance. In “Sörlarímur,” one of the earliest examples of the genre, the poet refers to the dancing that accompanies his recital, and in the 17th century the term “dans” or dance was synonymous with poetry. An essay called “Qualiscunque Descriptio Islandiae,” which was probably written by Bishop Oddur Einarsson in Copenhagen in 1588, describes a

performance which may refer to a performance analogous to a rímur recital: “They select one who has mastered the art of kvedskapur (istam cantillandi artem). He recites for a while some sort of introduction with a trembling voice and in a hesitant fashion (tremula ac titubante quodammado voces).”


It is well documented that the Icelanders enjoyed a special form of communal story-telling and poetry recitals from the earliest times, and these seem to have developed into the institution of “kvöldvaka” (night-vigil), of which the chanting of rímur was an integral part.

In 1589, Gudbrandur Borláksson wrote in the preface to his book of hymns a pious diatribe against this practice, and said that his aim with the publication was “lastly in order to have thrown out the undesirable poems of giants and heros, rímur, love songs, amorous songs, lustful songs, mocking and satirical songs and other evil and wicked recitation…which are

used and loved by the peasantry of this land to the sorrow of God and his angels, but to the delight of Satan and all his spawn, a practice more widespread than in any other Christian land and more suited to the practice of heathens than Christian folk at their night-vigils and other gatherings.”


In 1634, the Reverend Sigurdur Oddsson wrote a letter to his bishop complaining that the sacred writ was faring badly in competition with the impromptu secular entertainment that was practiced outside the churches, and that people would often leave in the middle of the service to listen to various tall tales of the heros of yore. He furthermore complains that one his parishioners had confided to him that “next to hearing about the passion of the Lord he enjoyed nothing more than the Rímur of Rollant: I must gloss over the fact that many would sooner listen to Rímur of Brana, Arinnefja et cetera than listen to the pious song of the church...” 


In 1746, the ruling authorities issued a decree to priests saying that they should “caution the people of the household with the utmost gravity to guard themselves against undesirable stories and unreasonable fables and ballads which have been abroad in the land.”  In the same year another decree was aimed at the pater familias stating that he should “diligently remind his children and his servants to begin both work and business with a prayer to God…and they must be earnestly reminded, on pain of punishment, to guard themselves against unseemly talk and sport, oaths and swearing, vain stories or so-called Sagas and licentious poems or rimes, which are not seemly for a Christian and which sadden the Holy Ghost to hear sung or said forth.” And the main proponent of the Enlightenment in Iceland, Magnús Stephensen, wrote an essay in 1808 lamenting the “horrendous howling of rímur” which he saw as an enemy of more tasteful musical practices.


But the Icelanders stuck to their most popular form of entertainment, and, needless to say, these best of intentions did not succeed, and in the mid-19th century people started to write down and notate the old rímur melodies. The monumental work of Reverend Bjarni Borsteinsson on Icelandic folk-songs devoted a special chapter to rímur and its publication in the years 1906 - 1909 and is a landmark in the preservation of the old tradition.


Furthermore, in the year 1903, Jón Pálsson made the first sound recordings of rímur and others soon followed suit. The result is an enormous collection of melodies that serve as a living and vibrant link to the past, as the last few years have seen a revival where the old tradition is no longer considered anachronistic, but something that needs to be studied and cherished. Hopefully this collection can be seen as part of that revival.


Notes on the recording process


When Steindór first contacted me about this project, I was thrilled to be part of a rímur recording which was not done for archival purposes and furthermore I saw this as a chance to put to test some theories which maintain that the special intonation of the rímur was a direct result of the environment in which they were performed. Some authorities maintain that as the rímur were performed in anechoic or non-reverberant spaces such as the traditional sleeping loft or out in the fields, their vocal style developed differently to musical styles where people “sang into spaces” such as churches or chambers where the acoustics become part of the performance.


To this end, I contacted sound engineer extraordinaire Sveinn Kjartansson and we decided on using a portable 24-bit Pro-Tools set-up with Apogee AD 8000 converters so that we could record in different locations chosen by their inherent acoustic properties. Our microphone of choice was the Calrec Soundfield, which is in my humble opinion simply the best microphone ever produced. The Calrec Soundfield is unique in the sense that it also records spatial information and becomes in effect an auditory time-machine, as you can move it in different directions after the recording – this is done by recording on four discrete tracks and using a special console where the focus can be moved back and forth, up and down, as well as to the left and right of a standard stereo recording.

Tracks 1 to 7 were recorded in the small confines of the traditional badstofa, and the perspective was that of a member of the household listening in a typical evening wake situation. Tracks 8 to 11 were recorded in a small turf church and the

perspective was that of a member of the congregation. A winter-storm raging outside makes its presence felt from time to time, appropriately it reached its height when Steindór chanted stanzas about turbulent weather at sea…

Then we moved to the Salurinn Concert Hall, which is known for its beautiful acoustics, and tracks 12 and 14 feature pairings with other elements such as a didgeridoo or another chanter, while tracks 13, 15 and 17 are examples of rímur chanting in a modern musical environment. We changed the set-up for tracks 16 and 18 as we wanted more control over the subtle nuances of Monika’s Irish harp: these were recorded with Sveinn Kjartansson’s other über-microphones, a pair of the special edition Bruel and Kjær DBA 4040 and a pair of B & K 4041.


- Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson


In 1929 the society IDUNN was formed in Reykjavík. The aim of the society was to preserve the tradition of Rímur-chanting.  The majority of its members were people who had moved to the city from the countryside and missed the old times when the evenings at the farms were passed by listening to the old epic songs. The memory of the communal sleeping loft, or badstofa, where the traditional chores of weaving, spinning and knitting were enlivened by the chanter or kvædamadur, was lovingly recreated, and people gathered together to chant the old rímur and started to think of ways of preserving the heritage.

The society became a sort of living museum in itself – people from different parts of the country came forward with different strands of the tradition, and finally, in the years 1935 – 1936, a new technology arrived that would be instrumental in recording this heritage for posterity. The silver-disc recordings from that period are still a vital part of the workings of the society: since then young people have listened to the recordings as they try to master the art of “kvædaskapur.” Up to the present day the members of the IDUNN society meet once or twice a month and chant for each other, and they have resolutely ignored passing fads or periods where their endeavours were at best labelled quaint and old-fashioned. This quiet activity went unnoticed for a number of years, but of late, more and more young people have started looking for the origins of Icelandic music, and in consequence have discovered the treasures so well preserved by the society. With this revived interest, IDUNN has for the second time embraced an emerging technology, and now has a presence on the internet, through the website www.rimur.is, where interested parties can access all sorts of information relating to the society’s activities and the different metric structures of the rímur poetry, listen to old recordings and much more.


Steindór Andersen has been president of the IDUNN society since 1997.


Steindór Andersen

(1954 –)

Steindór Andersen was born in 1954. His early interest in the poetry of the rímur led to his introduction to the IDUNN society where his unique talent as kvædamadur

was soon noticed. Steindór has taught rímur chanting at seminars and workshops, and these and his appearances on TV and radio have contributed to the revival of the rímur tradition in recent years. His collaboration with the Icelandic group Sigur Rós, resulting in tours in Europe and the United States, has sparked an unprecedented interest in this hitherto neglected musical form.


Steindór has of late been part of various projects whose aim has been cross-cultural fertilization with the intent of bringing the rímur to a wider audience, but at the same time he has been instrumental in preserving the “bare bones” of the tradition so that others may draw inspiration or enjoyment from this simple, yet elaborate, form of music and poetry.


Steindór has for many years worked as a fisherman and as captain of his own ship called Idunn.


Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson

(1958 –)

Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson was born in 1958. Since the early eighties he has been a prominent part of the Icelandic music scene, shifting with relative ease between genres, and his work has at some time or other been classified as rock,

electronics, avant-garde, jazz or neo-classical. He has worked as producer for a variety of artists ranging from teenage death-metal bands to established blues legends such as Pinetop Perkins and Jimmy Dawkins. He has written music for over 20 feature films and in 1991 was awarded the Felix Prize (the European Oscar) as European Film Composer of the Year for his work on the film “Children of Nature” which in turn was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category.

After living for many years abroad he has returned to Iceland and, as his recent collaborations with Steindór Andersen and Sigur Rós suggest, his native musical roots as well.


Jón Sigurdsson

(1853 – 1922)

A self-taught manual laborer who worked on various farms throughout his life, yet found time to write poetry which brought him some fame among his contemporaries. Best known for “Rímur af Atla Ótryggssyni” which he wrote with Símon Dalaskáld.

1.         Atlarímur I

The poet starts off with a mansöngur, but only with an indirect nod to the fairer sex. He starts to ruminate on the art of poetry and on bad influences from abroad.

2.         Atlarímur II

Further thoughts on poetry. In a twist on the usual mansöngur theme, where the poet talks about his own shortcomings, the author starts to decry the output of one of his fellow poets who is accused of envy, malice and total lack of talent.

3.         Atlarímur III

The poet now finishes the mansöngur after stating that the audience is growing weary of his musings. In mid poem he shifts over to the story of how Atli and Bödvar fight over the hide of an ox as each tries to cover himself in bed. The results are a torn hide and a splintered bed.


A very rough translation of the first verse:

My eloquent tongue was tied,

tired and growing numb.

In bed under an ox’s hide

Atli deigned to slumber.


Jón S. Bergmann

(1874 – 1927)

Sailed the seven seas and lived abroad for some time. It was said that after a seven year stay in England he could write poetry in English as well as in Icelandic. His strength and courage were also remarked on and these no doubt served him well when he later in life became Chief Inspector of Police in the township of Hafnarfjördur. His poetry is strongly moralistic, with themes that frequently address

the rights and wrongs in life.


4.         Epigrams

A selection of aphorisms: Time will never lay to waste what one has tasted in youth. Old age still enjoys the warmth of childhood memories.


Sigurdur Breidfjörd

(1798 – 1846)

The greatest of the Rímur poets. He learned the cooper’s trade in Copenhagen, was in the Danish mercantile service and lived for some time in Greenland. Although hampered by an imperfect education, he was well read and did some translations as well as using foreign material as the source for some of his work. He lived an unsettled life with alcohol and poetry as his two mainstays and died of starvation in Reykjavík, unjustly neglected and maligned by a younger generation of poets and intellectuals who wanted to abandon the entire rímur tradition to the dustbins of history. He was immensely popular in his day as a poet and personality, and even today, his way with words, technical wizardry, humour and humanity command respect and admiration.


5.         Gunnarsrímur

Based on the story of one of Iceland’s most beloved heroes, Gunnar Hámundarson from the Saga of Njal.

Battle rages, blood flows.


Rough translation of the fourth stanza:

Each along a blade had brought

biting edges wielded.

He slew them without second thought,

mightily then Gunnar fought.


9.         Jómsvíkingarímur

The poet moves from the mansöngur to the eve of a

battle. The first scene is at sea in a howling storm.


13.       Númarímur I

An ode to the land that fostered the poet. A

mansöngur where the maiden is the land itself.


16.       Jómsvíkingarímur II

The mansöngur moves from women in general to one fair maiden in particular. The poet dwells on the

memory of one he once loved.


18.       Númarímur

The sun rises and everything comes alive, the meadows glow, the mountains glitter and the earth spreads out her arms in embrace.


The Reverend Hannes Bjarnason (1776 – 1838)

Hannes Bjarnason received a good education, but started out as a farmer who wrote epic poetry about bloody battles in his spare time. While some considered his “Rímur af Andra Jarli” totally inappropriate for a man of the cloth, they were written before his ordination and pale in significance to some of the poetry he wrote about his parishioners later in life. He was fond of the bottle and sometimes coarse,  but the reputation he left behind was that of a kind and generous man and a good host whose humour and wit enlivened his surroundings.


6.         Andrarímur

More bloodshed and battles. This poem puts most

splatter films to shame...


Bjarni Gíslason

(1880 – 1940)

His life, like that of so many of his contemporaries, was marred by poverty and lack of education and opportunities. Even as a child he was made to wander between farms where he earned his keep as a laborer, but somehow he managed to learn to read and write and find solace in his poetry. In one of his poems he says that all he asks for is “another day and a good horse.”


7.         Epigrams

A contemplation on life and on the difficulty of pleasing others. “Every tie that ties me down fetters the spirit.”


Herdís Andrésdóttir

(1858 – 1939)

She and her twin sister, Ólína, were born on the island of Flatey in a small community of fisherman and farmers. When they were three years old, their father perished along with the entire crew of the island’s main fishing boat.  Twenty children lost their fathers and their lives were changed forever. Both sisters, however, became noted poets, respected and admired by all those who knew them. Professor Sigurdur Nordal wrote this memorable description of the sisters: “They were aristocrats in their poverty, towering above all pettiness and trivialities in thought and conduct, high-minded, unblemished, kind and pure of heart.”


8.         Upptíningur

The poetess writes about the great in the small, on the beauty of mother nature and on how her embrace will soothe the pains and sorrows of a lifetime.


Sigurbjörn Jóhannsson frá Fótaskinni (1839 – 1903)

The late 19th century in Iceland was a period of vile weather, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, drift ice and an all time low in agriculture and fishing. There was an ensuing wave of emigration to Canada and America, and Sigurbjörn Jóhannsson sailed with his family to the “West-World” in 1889.  Fiercely proud of his roots and origins, he published one book of poetry in Winnipeg a year before his death. His daughter, Jakobína Johnsson, became a gifted poet in her own right and an accomplished translator of Icelandic poetry and drama.


10.       Lysing af hesti

Practical advice on how to buy a horse. Enumerates the various virtues of the prime specimen.


Magnús Jónsson í Magnússkógum (1763 – 1840)

A farmer, carpenter, and artisan who still found time to turn out one of the largest corpus of Rímur-poetry that survives today. Well-liked and admired by his contemporaries, his well-crafted poetry still retains its power and resonance.


11.       Bernótusrímur

After various trials and tribulations at sea,

the king is still intent on battle...


Stefán frá Hvítadal

(1887 – 1933)

A master of rhyme and technique with his feet firmly planted in the tradition, yet capable of opening up new vistas in Icelandic poetry and bringing fresh winds from abroad. He travelled around Iceland reading from his books like the wandering poets of legend, and his lifetime struggle against poverty and disease left him unbowed, as he seemed to find something uplifting in every adversity. As Halldór Laxness wrote: “The Cup of Delight is as desirable to him on one hand as the Chalice of the Saviour is on the other.”


12.       Haustid nálgast

Autumn approaches, life grows shorter.

A rough translation of the 6th stanza:

Seek solace in the heavens you that cried,

the stars that shimmer are the rays of God

in the wintery night.


Stephan G. Stephansson

(1853 – 1927)

Known as the poet of the Rocky Mountains, he emigrated to America at the age of 20, living successively as a pioneer in Wisconsin, North Dakota and Alberta. His poetry, a marriage of prairie life and Icelandic tradition, is unique, and in his time he was considered to be one of the greatest living Icelandic poets. His reputation was such that he

was even hailed as the greatest poet in all of the British Dominions. In 1917, he was invited back to Iceland and was awarded a reception befitting a king.


14.       Rammislagur

A song to the sea and its playful aspects.


Hjálmar Jónsson frá Bólu

(1796 – 1875)

His life epitomizes the struggle of the destitute poet against the ignorance, prejudice and malevolence of his fellow men. But in his satirical and sometimes vitriolic verse he gave as good as he got! He overcame his lack of formal education by serious self-study and became an authority on old lore and literature. His poetry remains a testament to one man’s heroic fight against what the poet Matthías Jochumson called “a pitiless age of miserly meanness.”


15.       Göngu-Hrólfsrímur

Another song about the sea which is now

roaring and enraged.


Borsteinn Erlingsson

(1858 – 1914)


He entered the University of Copenhagen in 1883, but soon fell under the influence of Georg Brandes and his circle, and gave up academic life for poetry and social reform. He returned to Iceland, worked as a journalist and tutor, but was finally awarded a small poet’s allowance from the state. He was a dedicated defender of the weak and a tireless fighter against hypocrisy in all its forms.  He has been called the Swinburne of Icelandic literature, and both in thought and technique he has exerted a profound influence.


17.       Lágnætti

It is night and nature sleeps.


1. Atlarímur I

By Jón Sigurdsson

Fagrahvelid gyllir grund

glatt med bel ad vanda,

nú bví gel eg hringa hrund

háttinn velstíganda.

Misjafn rómur mærdar er,

misjaft dómar falla,

syngja óma haukar hér,

hrafnar og lómar gjalla.

Misjafnt kjörinn mærdarhljóm

metur fjörug bjódin,

syngur hvör med sínum róm,

svona gjörast ljódin.

Sumir grunda gudleg ljód

gæfu skunda línu,

vísdóm stunda og vel hjá bjód

verja pundi sínu.

Sumir bráfallt málud mennt

mynda háfleyg kvædi,

bau vér sjáum brykkt á prent

bjóta um snjáa svædi.

Bessir hrinda heimsku í vind,

hródrar binda prydi

kærleik, yndi, eymd og synd

í hugmynda smídi.

Óttast hnjód og arnarleir

efldir fródleikssöfnum,

bæta módurmálid beir

medur bjódskálds-nöfnum.

Stundum skyjum ofar og

yrkin nyju bylja,

útlend drygja frædaflog,

færri bvílíkt skilja.

Lægri knapar lands um geim,

lærdómssnapir vidur


flestir apa eptir beim

opt bá hrapa nidur.

Skemmtun mjög sem margfaldar

mennta órögu vinir,

færa sögur fornaldar

fram í bögur hinir.

Rímur tídum borgast bezt

bó brjálist tídarandi,

sem albydan metur mest

mikid vída í landi.

Bær ad kveda á kveldin hér

kætir ged ad vonum,

saklaus gledi og bad er

ekrufreda sonum.

Hér um slódir ísa enn

á nymódins tímum,

hrósa fródleiks mestu menn

margir gódum rímum.

Sumir grídar svör med klúr

sverta og nída adra,

lygahydi löngum úr

lasta skrídur nadra.


2. Atlarímur II

Aptur og fram um haudrid hér

heldur vamma ríkir

mest til skammar sjálfum sér

seppar gjamma slíkir.

Hródrar frída höfunda

hugvits prydi ríka,

adra tídum öfunda

og bá nída líka.

Öfund skær og eitrad fær

ekki værast sinni,

sem bá æri soltnar flær

á svörtu gæruskinni.

Sín í beinin frid ei fá

fangnir meinum lasta,

nema reyna adra á

illum steinum kasta.

Ódarspyju æla bá,

ekki bvílíkt bætir,

svo ad klygju sumir fá

sannleik lygi mætir.

Mjög bann frakkur magnar sid

mannords blakkur bjófur

ljóta Bakka leirskáldid,

lygasnakkur grófur.

Skammahydi ei skelfir mig,

skal bad sídar reyna,

mest óprydir sjálfan sig

semja níd alleina.

Sæmir ekki sjálfsbóttinn,

sem hann blekkir ódum,

víst ei bekkir vanmátt sinn

og vonda skekkju á ljódum.

Göldum snáda gef bví rád,

geds um lád óhlydid

kefja brádast kerskni og hád

klám forsmáda og nídid.

Skálda metin skemmtiljód

skyrt og setja í letur,

vanda betur aumann ód,

ef hann getur tetur.

Ella greyid hætti hreint

hródrargeyi stirda,

vitrir segja sannleik beint

svars bad eigi virda.

Bvílík slæm er mærdar mennt,

mens ei sæmir lundi,

ef hún kæmi út á prent

illa ræmast mundi.

Snemma mjög um morguntíd

mansöngs bögur dvína,

mér til sögu bendir blíd

bauga fögur lína.


3. Atlarímur III

Mín vard undra mælskan lúd

um morgunstund á bedi,

bar sem undir uxahúd

Atli blunda rédi.

Gekk burt njóla en grund og haf

gylla sólin tekur,

stiginn bóli Bödvar af

börinn kjóla vekur.

Kvedju ei vandar komubeim,

kaldur í anda og gedi

skjótt upp standa skipar beim

skífir randa af bedi.

Gegnir eigi Atli bá

öldnum beygir geira,

grafkyrr treyju lundur lá,

lézt nú beigi heyra.

Toga fór bá hörd med hót

í húdina stóru Bödvar,

ekki sljór hélt Atli mót

uxabjórinn stödvar.


Randa haflar röskir tveir

rúms í gaflinn spyrna,

stundar kafla bannig beir

breyttu aflid firna.

Gaflinn sprengjast gjördi frá

gránadi drengja fundur,

rammt og lengi rykktust á

rúmid gengur sundur.

Gnötradi og stundi stofan hly,

stinnt til mundum brifu,

hamadir undrum höldar bví

húdina sundur rifu.

Negg ei bera nádu hrellt

nödru verar dynu,

slarkinu bvera sleit, en hélt

slitri hver á sínu.


4. Epigrams

Written by Jón S. Bergmann

Tíminn vinnur aldrei á

elstu kynningunni;

ellin finnur ylinn frá


Verkin huldu sídar sjást,

sálarkulda sprottin;

hver, sem duldi alla ást,

er í skuld vid drottinn.

Begar háar bylgjur böls,

brotnudu á mér fordum,

kraup ég bá ad keldum öls,

kvad í fáum ordum.

Klónni slaka eg aldrei á

undan blaki af hrinu,

bótt mig hrakid hafi frá,

hæsta takmarkinu.


5. Gunnarsrímur 

By Sigurdur Breidfjörd

Skundar teitur skeidar á

skjómabrumu valdur,

menn á heitir sína sá

sókn ad veita bestu bá.

Fjárins grúa vinnum vér

verdi ferd til bóta.

Sig nær búa fólkid fer

ferjugrúa hinna sér.

Ad beim vada víkingar

voda ædi syna,

eggsteinsblada íman bar

enn til skada hafin var.

Hver einn dregur hardmynntan

hjör og fer ad beita.

Gunnar vegur margan mann

mikillega bardist hann.

Bólgin unda radast rid

raud á súdir nidur.

Ærid mundi mannfallid,

marar stundu birnir vid.

Gunnar ædir eirdarlaust

eydir bjódar lífi.

Einatt skæd ad eyrum braust

eggja hrædilega raust.

Hljóda og veina hlífarnar,

holund skolar búka,

straumum einum æda bar

æla skeinur blódraudar.

Höndum tveimur vígur var

vopnaheppni drengur,

flatti beima fjölda bar

frægri hveim er móti var.


Beir Hallgrímur hlaupa á

hlunna – Gunnars – vara.

Hann ad ímu arngeiri brá,

andlátssvíma margir fá.

Margan vætir blódugt bad,

byrstur ristir begna,

Gunnar lætur grimmum ad

gildum fæti bá stiklad.

Barf ei eggja óvininn

ímugrímur hardi,

ad honum leggur arngeirinn,

undan seggur snerist hinn.

Inní slána fleinninn fer.

Færi sér nú Gunnar,

hann med láni hjörinn ber

handlegg frána kappans mer.

Höggid brytur handlegginn,

hót bá bítur eigi.

Naudum flyta nennir hinn,

nidur hrytur arngeirinn.

Gunnar brífur hann og hjó

Hallgrím allan gegnum.

Út bar lífi undin spjó,

í einu fífutyrinn dó.


6. Andrarímur

by the Rev. Hannes Bjarnason á Ríp

Högni laut en haudrid

flaut í hrugnis blódi:

eitthvad tautar Andri í hljódi,

ód sem naut ad stála rjódi.

Yfir herdar höggur sverdi

halsins snjalla,

hér vid verdur Högni falla,

hann bó gerdi særast valla.

Skyrtan góda skyldi módum

skjóma runni,

hrökk bá blód af Högna munni,

hann uppstód sem fljótast kunni.

Vitid missti, heiptin hristi

hringa njótinn,

Andra lysti launa hótin,

lamdi byrstur kylfu á brjótinn.

Hægra sundur hann ad stundu

handlegg brytur,

Andra mund úr hrottinn hrytur,

hann svo undan snúa hlytur.

Sem laminn hundur hljóp um

grund sá hjörnum sleppti,

Högna undan hræddur keppti,

og hélt hann mundi koma á eptir.

Högni Andra óstillandi eptir vedur,

hirdir branda hverr fram tredur,

hristist landid bysnum medur.

Andri hræddur,

Högni bræddur heipt, ei létta,

foldar bræddu ei feril rétta,

fram svo æddu á sjóar kletta.

Bá fram bar sem brítugt

var ad borska lundi,

flug-hamar, en urd stór undir,

umferdar ei greitt bar mundi.

Andri brammar barna fram af,

byrmdi ei beinum,

um skeljungs damm ad skeri óhreinu,

skvampadi hrammi medur einum.

Högni gildur, hörku fyldur,

hljóp ei minna,

eflaust vildi Andra finna,

ekki skyldi hann fyrri linna.

Hikadi eigi hjörva sveigir

hvals vid móinn,

ætlar ad fleygja sér í sjóinn,

sama veginn heiptum gróinn.

Dvergar tjádir tóku rád,

beir teygdu klædi,

hvar á brádur Högni nædi,

hlaupa ádur félli í grædir.


7. Epigrams

Written by Bjarni Gíslason.

Bad er vandi ad sjá um sig,

svo ei grandist fridur.

Hvert bad band, sem bindur mig,

bælir andann nidur.

Kvedur norna kalda raust

-klidur fornra strauma-


aftur morgnar efalaust

eftir horfna drauma.

Bad er vandi ad velja leid,

vinna fjöldans hylli;

láta alltaf skrída skeid

skers og báru á milli.

Bad er öllum búningsbót:

bæta úr göllum ljótum,

strída föllum strauma mót,

standa ei höllum fótum.


8. Upptíningur

Written by Herdís Andrésdóttur.

Tálid margt bó teflum vid,

tjáir vart ad flyja.

Veiku hjarta veitir frid

vorid bjarta, hlyja.


Strykur glóey grösin smá

geislalófa bydum.

Lautir, flóar litkast bá;

leysir snjó úr hlídum.

Bröstur hátt med kátum klid

kvedur brátt í runna.

Bar er dátt ad dreyma vid

dásemd náttúrunnar.

Vorid hló og hratt sig dró

heim á gróin engi,

bar sem lóa í lágum mó

ljúfa sló á strengi.

Himins stóli háum frá

hverfa njólutjöldin;

tímgast fjóla túni á;

tekur sólin völdin.

Bydur fangid hlytt og hljótt

hlídarvangi fagur,

vidarangan - engin nótt,

allt er langur dagur.

Mitt vid hæfi á módurarm

mun ég gæfu finna.

Bar skal svæfa hjartaharm

heillar ævi minnar.


9. Jómsvíkingarímur I

By Sigurdur Breidfjörd

Mína lúna ljódarún

lét ég núna bída,

útá brúna ysutún

ormar húna skrída.

Reidinn söng bar rídur bröng

ránin ströng ad bordum,

skelfur röng en ráarstöng

rambar á löngustordum.

Landid hafid leiddi í kaf

lyra vafid búdum,

blikar traf vid bláa haf,

bodar skafa af súdum.

Byljir bráir böndin slá

í byrs ósmáu kjörum

marrar rá vid rakka há

ruggadi láin knörum.

Freyda bodar flennist vod

á flydru stodar búdum,

brimid bvodi brjóst á gnod

bulladi froda á súdum.

Stormar hvína, súdasvín

sundid bryna örva,

vedur hrína grafin gín

Grædis dyna sörva.

Í Vík bar bundu húnahund

Hrana Bundar kjóla,

Túnsberg fundu Hárs um hrund

ad háttastundum sólar.

Óvart verdur adför gerd

audnuskerdum lydi,

djörf var ferd bví drengjamergd

dregur sverd úr hydi.

Bjó bá stund í bustarhund

brandabundur nyti

heftir blund um háttastund

hét Geirmundur hvíti.

Brynjud bjód med Bölverksglód

í bæinn vódu nauma.

Vekja bjódir víkings hljód

vid ógódu drauma.

Ei var skjól bó rekkar ról

reyni um stóla dynu,

Hranasólin heli fól

hvern í bóli sínu.

Geirmund sér ad ekki er

ad eiga hér vid gaman;

í loft eitt fer ad forda sér

og föngin bera saman.

Leist Geirmundi litla stund

líf bar mundi verjast,

útá skundar gróna grund

bar garpar undir berjast.


10. Lysing af hesti

Written by Sigurbjörn Jóhannsson

frá Fótaskinni.

Ef bú selja meinar mér

makka skeljung gódan,

kosti telja hlyt eg hér,

hann svo velja takist bér.

Álits frídur, frambrekinn,

fjörs med strídu kappi,

fimur, bydur fótheppinn,

fetatídur, ganglaginn.

Stutt med bak og breitt ad sjá,

brúnir svakalegar,

augu vakin, eyru smá

einatt hrakin til og frá.

Makkann sveigi manns í fang,

munn ad eigin bringu,

skörpum fleygist skeids á gang,

skrokkinn teygi fróns um vang.

Bolinn, hraustur grjót og grund

grípi laust med fótum,

vadi traustur ekru und,

eins og flaustur taki sund.

Enga hrædist undra sjón,

ad bótt slædast kunni,

viss ad bræda veg um frón,

vænn á hæd og frár sem ljón.


Leggjanettur lidasver

lag sé rétt á hófum,

hardur, sléttur, kúptur hver,

kjóstu betta handa mér.


11. Bernótusrímur

By Magnús Jónsson í Magnússkógum:

Gat bess fyrr ad besta byr

börvar fengu stála,

begar frá grund á bilju hund

borska sigldu um skála.

Dægur eitt var drengjum veitt

dáda leidid fína,

hvessti bá, svo bylgjan blá

bardi módur sína.

Áflog ljót med heiptar hót

höfdu dætur Ægis,

beirra tusk og reidirusk

reyndi jórinn lægis.

Dröfnin vex, um dægur sex

drengir hrekjast nádu

til og frá um lysulá,

land um sídir bádu.

Settu fley á eydiey,

upp svo gengu hradir;

kannad bá og sig um sjá

seggir fengu gladir.

Hernad í vill halda frí;

hilmir bidur ríka

fljótt í svip ad fá sér skip,

og fræga drengi líka.

Fylkir tér: “Bad færdu hér;”

fimm lét búa skeidur,

sex og manna hundrud hann

honum valdi greidur.

Kóng og frídan landsins lyd,

lofdungs kvedur nidur,

sté á gnod og glæsta vod

greitt upp vinda bidur

Kólga og dröfn, bá hélt af höfn,

hilmis arfa lutu

bylgja, og údur blakar súd,

byrsins seglin nutu.

Dundi röng, en stundi stöng,

styrin marra og rumdu,

murra hjól, en urrar ól,

öldujóar brumdu.

Saung í reida golan greid,

gyltar vodir bandi,

bar til sjóla arfi ól

eggja hríd med brandi.

Hervíkinga hetjan slyng

hjó og reyndi vigur

sumarid heitt, og hel gat veitt,

hafdi jafnan sigur.


12. Haustid nálgast

By Stefán frá Hvítadal

Sólin blessud sígur raud til vidar

glóa á lofti gullin sky,

grátklökk áin nidar.

Haustid nálgast, hríd og vetrarrosinn,

senn er ekki sólar von,

senn er áin frosin.

Lóan horfin, lokid söngvafulli,

rökkvar hér, en sudræn sól

sveipar hana gulli.


Ógnar myrkrid oss á nordurströndum,

innra grætur ódfús brá

eftir sudurlöndum.

Eigum vér bá adeins myrkar nætur,

enga fró né innri hvíld,

engar raunabætur?

Himinn yfir.  Huggast bú, sem grætur.

Stjörnur tindra, geislar guds,

gegnum vetrarnætur.

Vetrarnóttin varla mun oss saka,

fyrst ad ljósin ofan ad

yfir mönnum vaka.


13. Númarímur I

By Sigurdur Breidfjörd

Módurjörd hvar madur fædist

mun hún eigi flestum kær

bar sem ljósid lífi glædist

og lítil sköpun broska nær?

Í fleiri lönd bó fengi drengir

forlaganna vadid sjó

hugurinn bangad brengist lengi

er beirra fögur æskan bjó.

Mundi ég eigi minnast hinna

módurjardar tinda há

og kærra heim til kynna minna

komast hugarflugi á?

Jú ég minnist fóstra forna

á fjöllin keiku sem bú ber

í kjöltu binni kvöld og morgna

kvikur leikur muni sér.


Um bína prydi ad benkja og tala

bad er tídast gledin mín

í högum frídu hlyrra dala

hjörd um skrídur brjóstin bín.

Smala hlydinn hjardar fjöldinn

heim ad lídur stekkonum

bar ég síd á sumarkvöldin

sat í vídibrekkonum.


14. Rammislagur

By Stephan G. Stephansson

Grána kampar grædi á,

gjálpir hampa skörum,

titra glampar til og frá,

tifur skvampa í fjörum.

Ögra læt mér Ægis-lid

upp úr sæti malar,

Ránar dætur dansa vid

deigum fæti kjalar.

Undir bliku beitum bá

bát og strikid tökum.

Stígum vikivakann á

völtum kviku-bökum.

Gólf er lidugt, löng og stór

leikjarsvid hjá unni.

Spriklar, idar allur sjór,

ystu mid ad grunni.

Utan sendar öldur sér

áfram henda og flyta,

vilja ad lendi í lófa mér

lödurhendin hvíta.

Byljir kátir kvedast á,

hvín í sátri og hjöllum.

Báruhlátrar hlakka frá

hamralátrum öllum.


15. Göngu-Hrólfsrímur

By Hjálmar Jónsson frá Bólu

Hnitbjarganna beiskan brunn

burtu vann ad fjara,

ljónum hranna yttu á unn

Yggir glanna svara.

Rauk glymjandi Ránar mey,

rumdi band og bilja,

undan landi flana fley,

fokkur bandi kylja.

Yfir skapta humra höll

Hræsvelgs kraptur gnúdi,

reif upp kjaptinn Ránar tröll,

rumdi, gapti, spúdi.

Öldu hundur Ægis drós

einatt sundur klippti,

skalf og drundi skessan sjós,

skutinn undir lyfti.

Gramdist sneypan gletturík,

gusum steypa dugdi,

ofar keipum flennti flík,

fleyin gleypa hugdi.

Kári bykkist frekt vid fljód,

fram svo rykkir biljum,

líkt sem hrykki elding ód

undan skrykkibyljum.

Barst úr sjónum foldar fles

fyrir sjónir mennsku,

bylja sóninn hirti hlés

hyddi ad fróni ensku.

Slétti geflur bylgjan brett,

brosleit eflir gaman,

masturs trefla línid létt

lydir hefla saman.

Beittu ad strandar breidri hlein,

brims um granda vídan,

beyttu í sandinn bungum flein,

bustu á landid sídan.


16. Jómsvíkingarímur II

By Sigurdur Breidfjörd

Uni hjá mér hringaslód

med hyru gedi,

eg fer bá ad yrkja ljód

en adrir kvedi.

Eftirlátar ætíd mér

med ásynd rjóda

sitji kátar sætur hér

vid sönginn góda.

Eyrum dilli, ytar flytji


bétt á milli svanna sitji


Man ég eina af mjúku hjarta

milda í ordum

ennishreina og hárabjarta

hjá mér fordum.

Hvarfla augu hyr og

snör um hvarmabólin

eins og laugud ljósa spjörum

ljómi sólin.

Hvít og rjód er reflagná

med roda svinnum

eins og blód sé brætt í snjá

á bádum kinnum.

Nettar hendur klappa kunna

í kærleiks standi.

Hvar sem stendur seimasunna

er síbrosandi.


Hún er rjód og hvít í kinnum

hdr í ordum.

Bannig stód hún mér í minnum

málud fordum.


17. Lágnætti

By Borsteinn Erlingsson

Margoft bangad mörk og grund

mig ad fangi draga,

sem bær anga út vid Sund

eftir langa daga.

Bundinn gestur ad ég er

einna best ég gleymi

medan sest á sumri hér

sól í vesturheimi.

Ekki er margt sem foldar frid

fegur skarta lætur,

eda hjartad unir vid

eins og bjartar nætur.

Kvikt er valla um sveit né sjá

svo ad kalla megi;

raddir allar bagna bá,

begar hallar degi.

Sofnar lóa er löng og mjó

ljós á flóa deyja;

verdur ró um vídan sjó,

vötn og skógar begja.

Hérna brunnu blóma munn

brosin sunnu vidur,

nú ad grunni út í unn

er hún runnin nidur.

Stjörnur háum stólum frá

stafa bláan ósinn

út vid sjáar ystu brá

eftir dáin ljósin.

Utar bída óttutíd

Ægis frídu dætur,

bar sem vídi sveipar síd

sól um blídar nætur.


18. Númarímur II

By Sigurdur Breidfjörd

Farsældin med fridnum er

sem fadmar brjóstid varma;

strídid sæmd og sælu ver

sára vekur harma.

Eins og lind og ládid á

lognid breidir klædi

engir vindar anda ná

af bví fyrir mædi.

Bá úr heidis háum stad

hita sólin rydur

og hárid greidir gullfjallad

í gaupnir jardar nidur.

Yfir sáir ylnum gód

allt eins lá og heiminn

hverju strái á hverri lód

hjúkrar bá ógleymin.

Glóa hagar glitra fjöll

gylltar fljóta idur

bar flatmaga foldin öll

fadminn breidir vidur.

Allar myndir land og lá

lofa heppni sína

drekka yndisanda bá

endurlifna og hlyna.

Allar rætur vakna vid

vöxt og aldin bera

betta læt ég líkast frid

lognid mega vera.


All songs performed by Steindór Andersen

Produced by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson

Engineered by Sveinn Kjartansson

Mastered by Ronnie Thomas at Mastermix, Nashville, Tennessee

Cover Art courtesy the National Museum of Iceland

Design by corkboards

Executive Producer, Dolores Canavan

Naxos World extends special thanks to Rósa Borsteinsdóttir at the Arni Magnusson Institute, Iceland.


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