HOME > Faroese Ballads > Ormurin langi - The Ballad of Olav Trygvasson's ship, The "Long Serpent"

Ormurin langi

Ormurin Langi.

Music: Traditional Faroese melody
Arranged: Heri Joensen & Kári Streymoy [of Týr]
Lyrics: Jens Christian Djurhuus (1773 -1853)

The Long Serpent

(a Faroese ballad)
{Faroese text }

1. Viljið tær hoyra kvæði mítt,
viljð tær orðum
um hann Ólav Trygvason,
hagar skal ríman snúgva.

Niðurlag: ⇒
Glymur dansur í høll,
dans sláið ring
Glaðir ríða Noregs menn
til Hildar ting.[* Hild ="fighter", name of a Valkyrie]
3. Knørrur varð gjørdur á Noregs landi,
gott var í honum evni:
sjúti alin og fýra til
var kjølurin millum stevni

8. Har kom maður oman
við sterkum boga í hendi:
Jallurin av Ringaríki
hann meg higar sendi. ”

10. “ Einar skalt tú nevna meg,
væl kann boga spenna,
Tambar eitur mín menski bogi,
ørvar drívur at renna. ”

11. “ Hoyr tú tað, tú ungi maður,
vilt tú við mær fara,
tú skalt vera mín ørvargarpur
Ormin at forsvara. ”

12. Gingu teir til strandar oman,
ríkir menn og reystir,
lunnar brustu og jørðin skalv:
teir drógu knørr úr neysti.

71. Einar spenti á triða sinni,
Ætlar jall at raka,
brast strongur av stáli stinna,
í boganum tókst at braka.

72. Allir hoyrdi strongin springa,
kongurin seg undrar:
“ Hvat er tað á mínum skipi,
sum ógvuliga dundrar ? ”

73. Svaraði Einar Tambarskelvir
kastar boga sín
“ Nú brast Noregi úr tínum hondum,
kongurin, harri mín ! ”

Nú skal lætta ljóðið av
eg kvøði ei longur á sinni
nú skal taka upp annan tátt
dreingir leggi í minnið

{English tr.}

1. Will you hear the ballad of mine,
Will you my words believe,
About Olaf Tryggvasson,
Here's how the rhyme revolves.

burden(refrain): ⇒
Raucous dance in the Hall,
Dance, form a ring,
Gladly ride Norroway's men,
To the Hild's[War]-Gathering .

3. A ship was made in Norway's land,
Goodly make was she:
Seventy ells and four lengthwise
The keel from [prow to] stern

8. Here comes a man down [from the hill]
With a sturdy bow in hand:
“ The Jarl of Ringaríki [*Hringaríki]
Has here sent me. ”

10. “ Einar shall you call me,
Well can I stretch the bow,
Tambar [*"Stretcher"] hight my manly bow,
For striving at shooting arrows. ”

11. “ Listen here, young man,
Will you fare away with me?
You shall be my champion-arrower,
The Serpent, [my longship,] to defend. ”

12. They come down on the strand,
Doughty men and strong,
The rails break and the earth shakes:
They tug the ship from the shipyard.

71. Einar drew a third time,
Meaning to strike the Jarl,
Then burst the string of sturdy steel,
In the bow it seemed to break.
[* Jarl Erik's archer has shot Einar's bow]
72. All heard the string snap,
The king said in wonder:
“ What's that making my ship,
Rumble so dreadfully? ”

73. Answered Einar Tambarskelvir [*Einarr Þambarskelfir] Casting the bow of his
“ That was Norway breaking from your hand,
King sire, lord of mine ! ”
[* A lost cause. Olav will soon plunge himself in the sea.]
Now I will let up this song awhile,
I'll recount not longer this time
So I shall take up the second tale,
And may it be remembered far and wide.
Hild's gathering. Hild is a common female name, but also means "Battle" or "Fighter". Here, Hild might be taken as the name of one of the Valkyries. Brynhild used to be called Hild when she used to be a valkyrie, according to "Brynhild's Hell-Ride".
Hild is also the name of the princess who eloped with Hethinn and thus caused the Hjathning war (Skaldskaparmál 49) [Hild's Ring was an armlet that she brought to her father as a peace-offering; however some critics interpret this as an insult inferring passive homosexulaity.] [BACK]

Origins / Links:
The poem was composed in the 19th century by Djurhuus who was a farmer by trade. The full poem contains 85 stanzas.
For the time being I've only translated the strophes sung by the hard rock group Týr. See Týr's page on their album, How Far to Asgaard. where you can download mp3 of the song.
You can find several sites that carry all 85-strophes, including the TJATSI site below.

A new issue of ten stamps from tha Faroese Islands features the Ormurin Langi longship according to this ballad. See TJATSI for background (although neither translations nor summary the ballad has been posted yet as of this writing. Also go to Faroese Post Office to make online/credit card purchases.

Japanes manga (comic-book) artist Ryo Azumi (in Japanese) has created a number of Norse-related works, and one series, Shishi no gotoku features Olaf Trygvasson and his longship Naga-hebi go which means "The Long Serpent" in Japanese.
As information available in English is pretty scanty, you may have a look at my brief and hastily written intro on Ms. Azumi and her works, including the saga-inspired romance Akai Tsurugi ("The Crimson Sword").

I obtained this intelligence from Syndergaard (English translations of the Scand. Mediev. Ballads) that of the 85 stanzas, 36 stanzas have been translated into English, under the ballad title "Great Serpent" by John F. West in "Ballad-Dancing in the Faroe Islands", Co-Scan Newsletter, Issue 1 (Winter 1983/4): pp19-21. Unfortunately I am unable to find any leads or confirmation on this newsletter. Note that inclusion of this ballad by Syndergaard infers its treatment as a tradtional medieval ballad (In contrast a ballad composed by Oehlenschlager would not be included in Syndergaard's list.).

For additional info I've gathered, please consult my Faroese Link page