Ragnar Lothbrok's Speech - Serpent Pit

Discours de Ragnar Lothbrok - Fosse aux serpent
Krakumál - the song of Ragnar Lothbrok
Towards the end of the eighth century, Ragnar Lodbrok, king of Denmark and semi-legendary Viking, was taken prisoner by his enemy Aella, king of part of England. He had Ragnar thrown into a pit that he had filled with poisonous snakes. It was said that Ragnar cried out in this horrible pit a speech that made the men present tremble, in which he recounts his exploits and exhorts his sons to avenge his death. Which later arrived with the great Viking army led by Ragnar's sons.
As for the version of this poem, we tried to translate it in a fictionalized way, in order to immerse the reader in this now legendary scene.


I brandished my sword! A long time ago, when I killed the giant snake in Götland. It was when I married Þóra; that I was called Loðbrók, people learned how I freed Þóra, prisoners of the creature with a stroke of my sword. The snake's head fell at my feet, releasing its venom onto the muddy ground.


I brandished my sword! I was very young when I prepared breakfast for the greedy wolf of Øresund. I provided such a meal that the yellow-legged birds came under my sword. The whole sea was choppy, the crows were wading in the blood of the corpses.
I brandished my sword! When I threw my first spear, I had reached the age of twenty, when I saw the swords turn red with blood. I defeated eight jarls east of the mouth of the Dvina, then gave the greedy wolves enough food to last dozens of winters. But in this battle, blood fell in stormy seas, troops lost many lives.
I brandished my sword! When the wife of the legendary Heðinn was under my hand, as I took the people of Hälsingland to the halls of Odin. I then went up the river, until a sword tip managed to bite me. All this river was then reddened, the swords roared on the coats of mail, splitting the shields of that which had touched me.
I brandished my sword! While Herrudr fell in battle aboard his long ship. No other more famous jarl ventured into the seas with our long ships. This great leader carried his courage and strength into many men.
I brandished my sword! When an army threw down their shields, for our arrows kissed their breasts. Battle spears split shields until King Rafn fell in the battle of Skarfé. Under a moon, the men's skulls redden their coats of mail.
I brandished my sword! As the sound of iron echoed across the plains of Ularakr.
King Eysteinn fell in battle and showered us with gold, leaving my enemies in a vulture feast. The smoking swords blew off the helmets, letting blood flow down the necks to the shoulders.
I brandished my sword! For the crows that got plenty of flesh on the islands of Inndyrisey. I provided a meal for the witch Fala's horses. We had so much food that it was difficult to see everything, so as the sun rose, we heard arrows whistling over our helmets.
I brandished my sword! When I dipped shields in blood off the coast of Bornholm, we fed our wounded to the eagle in a dance of shields and swords. The greatest king Volnir seen pierced with a flaming spear. The dead were scattered on the beaches and the wolf delighted in their flesh.
I brandished my sword! The outcome of the battle was clearly uncertain, but King Freyr fell on Flemish soil. The infected wound plunged this hero's golden armor into blue. The young virgins mourn the loss until early morning, until the wolves devour the bodies.
I brandished my sword! While for three days and three nights together, we tried to crush the enemies who came by the hundreds in their ships. The fight was brave until our swords embraced Valthiof who collapsed before Englanès. The enemy armies were defeated.
I brandished my sword! When a river of blood flowed from our swords. In the Gulf of Barda I offered our victims to the crows. The armor forged by the hammer of the wanderer Svelner shattered under our arrows and swords soaked in the venom of the great serpents.
I brandished my sword! We held our Hlǫkk shields strong and high in the Valkyrie game. The men could then see several broken warrior helmets in the debris of our shields. I am better at this game than putting a young girl into my bed.
I brandished my sword! During a deadly storm, men fell before our swords. The lands of Northumbria were filled with corpses. Our blades gave an end to the lives of his men who did not meet Odin.
I brandished my sword! Herthiof was able to obtain a victory against our valiant men. But Reognvaldr ate the iron and rested forever on the Hebrides. Great pain reached the greatest warriors in the clash of swords.
I brandished my sword! The dead drew an enormous mountain on the ground, the eagles and wolves did not wait for the end of the battle to rejoice. King Marstan, who ruled Ireland, did not allow animals to fast. In a meeting of metal and shield, the corpses fattened the Waterford crows.
I brandished my sword! I have seen many men fall by a morning sword. The blade struck my son's heart early. Egill then deprived Agnarr of life with a blow so powerful that a dull crash resounded. The banners shone until a spear broke Hamder's shirt.
I brandished my sword! I saw the faithful parents of Endill disembowel their enemies with a sword to give the wolves a meal. In Víkarskeid, the women served us wine, when the ships were empty of men, the Valkyries brought them to the hall of kings.
I brandished my sword! In the early morning, three kings fight and few men escape the carnage. The enemies were sacrificed in the mouths of wolves. Off the coast of Lindiseyrr blood abounds in the Irish Sea.
I brandished my sword! I saw the young knight with the beautiful hair flee in the early morning as Njorun brought us to the hot baths of Álasund just before the fall of King Orn. We then kissed a young woman sitting on the raised seat.
I brandished my sword! Our swords slice through shields until a golden spear slices through armor. For centuries, people will talk about our exploits during this great battle. The ships waiting on the sandbar on the island of Anglesey were soon turned red with blood.
I brandished my sword! Why these courageous warriors placed on the front line fall under the rain of spears. He who is not so courageous will never feed the crows, he will remain a heartless coward regretting his dark life.
I brandished my sword! The law of the true warrior is to fight with sword in hand; justice cannot be given to those who flee from battle. He who wants to impress his wife must be dignified in the face of the sword that will accompany you to death.
I brandished my sword! I submit to my fate, I cannot escape the fate of the norns. I didn't think the cause of my death would be Aella when I put the ships to sea. But we will provide a meal in the estuary of Scotland for the hungry wolves.
I brandished my sword! It makes me laugh to know that Odin's benches are preparing for the banquet. We will soon drink ale in the curved horns, a man does not regret death in the dwellings of glorious Odin. I do not come with fear to the hall of Valholl!”
I brandished my sword! Now all the sons of Áslaug will come and fight a battle here with sharp and merciless swords, if they know how I am treated, how many poisonous snakes tear me apart. I gave my sons such a mother that their hearts remained steadfast.”
I brandished my sword! My death is fast approaching, the serpent already inhabits my heart. We will all be waiting for gungnir the spear of Odin to be lodged in Aella's heart. How my sons will be filled with rage, when they will see how their old fathers suffered. Their fiery youths will not give you rest.
I brandished my sword! I, a great warrior, have fought fifty bloody battles.
I never thought I could meet a tougher king than me.
From a very young age, I knew how to make the sword blush.
The gods invite me with open arms. I'm not afraid of death.
Now I want to end it, I hear, they call me, the Valkyries welcome me home.
In Odin's great hall, tonight I will drink ale with the gods, life's hopes are gone, I will die with a smile.

Reading next

Les neufs royaumes Viking
RAGNAR LOTHBROK - L'histoire la légende

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