The Tale of Ísmær

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Dróttkvætt by Petronilla de Chastelerault


In the ancient skald-songs
Stories of the north-land,
Told by swift-tongued elders,
Tell of mighty giants
And of hero’s valor,
Valhalla and Asgard.
And the ice-born Ísmær,
Snow-maid, clever, fairest.


By the northern sea-gate,
There dwelled lovely Ísmær.
Daughter of no mortal,
Time, not woman, birthed her.
Lived she in the snow-lands,
Lonely, on an island,
Blissful, and not seeing
Sorrows of the far-world.


Ísmær sat on south-shore,
Summer months beginning.
Sky above did darken,
Dragon dropped from earth-ends!
Long as seven warships,
Scales like hard-forged iron.
Sent by death-bound Hela,
Dark-world’s overseer.


Hela, in her death-hall,
Had four carven marble
Seeing-stones of power.
Saw eye-tale inside stone,
Ísmær’s god-wrought beauty.
Sent forth dragon northward,
Want-rage creeping through her.
Hers great beauty would be!


Ísmær, fear-sense rising,
Snatched by dragon’s talons,
Thought of how to life-keep,
To her island return.
“How have I offended?
Have I given insult?
if I have, forgive me,”
Forth spoke to her captor.


Then did turn the dragon,
to its heart her words went.
Said it then unto her,
“No insult have you given.
Hela Death-Queen sent me,
That she might have beauty.
Now I regret greatly
Going to her service.”


Hela, in her death-hall,
Heard the conversation.
Anger rose within her,
Raged she at her servant.
Cried she of his falseness,
Sent she forth a fell-storm,
Sea to water-walls turned,
Winds to icy hammers!


Ísmær and the dragon,
Rising on the soft-winds,
From the north the storm came,
Thor-force wind surrounded.
Ísmær forth to Hela
Told her this, “O Lady,
You storm-toss the faultless.
This, it makes you happy?”


Hela, in her death-hall,
Heard the words of Ísmær.
Stopped she then the dark-storms,
Thor-force winds no longer.
Danger there deserted,
Dragon flew on freely.
Landed it on white-sand
Down it laid fair Ísmær.


In the ancient skald-songs
Stories of the north-land
Tell of maiden’s valor-
Lucky man can best it.
In the well-built mead-hall
Toast they the Ice-Maiden.
“Hail,” cry worthy warriors,
“Won her life with words!”




You can find the rules I used for writing a Dróttkvætt here: Svensdrapa.