Grey-haired Ketil heard the murmur,
Heard the whispers of his neighbours,
But said nothing, thought in silence,
And did not lead out his servants.
One day Ketil, at the feast-board
Spoke to Thorstein sitting by him
At this time the fair-haired Thorstein
Eighteen years had lived in Romsdal.
‘These days young men choose the home-hearth
Where they sit in idle feasting,
Meat and ale are all they dream of
Never honour’s daring exploits.
As a young man I won honour,
Going raiding, facing danger,
I won wealth in hard-fought duels,
Courage called me, and I followed.
You’re not great in strength or stature,
And I think your deeds and daring
Will prove small and show your spirit
Small as well – as all men see you.
You’ve no heart to follow forebears,
Vikings who in long sea journeys
Got renown and riches also,
Wrote their names with bloody sword stroke.
They won treasure, rings and armour,
Clasps of fine wrought gold and garnets;
Not for sons the wealth was gathered
But in death to lay beside them.
Greater honor to my family
Would a gap be in our lineage,
Than that there be one like Thorstein
Who knows sword-play like a woman.’
Thorstein pushed away his ale cup,
And in anger Mjoll’s son answered:
‘If incitement ever moved man
This was provocation plenty.’
Standing up, he left the mead-bench,
And he could not mask his anger
As he left his father’s feast-hall,
Hung with Ketil’s battle trophies.
One thought in his breast was beating,
Beating with the blood of anger,
One thought in the heart of Thorstein,
Hammered with his father’s taunting:
‘I would liefer lie in darkness,
Lose my life in steel-sword fighting,
Never meet the hag of old-age,
Than again hear such reviling.
Now we’ll see if I inherit
Ketil’s luck that never failed him,
If my blade will feed the eagle,
Fix a feast for forest falcon.’
Thorstein then his steed up-mounted,
Pulled his cloak so blue about him;
On that day the old tree-breaker
Flew in cold from fjord and ocean.
Then from Romsdal’s grass-capped long-house,
Stable and stabbur, he steered his stallion,
Spurred him toward the grey-cliff’s shadow,
Sought the stony path to Oppland.
Here are links to pictures of Norwegian stabburs (which are food store-houses on a farm.) They might have looked somewhat different a thousand years before these pictures, when this story took place. (In the last stanza 'stable and stabbur' should be read quickly with two accents.)