May 6, 2009

H5 update

Miss Wartz was present the evening Secret Agent Man was translated by our friends from Old Norse back into English. She recalls the actual Old Norse being translated that night and made the following comment:

"I read your blog today and had to remind you about "and so, Nels, that is why you wear the blue pants. So the Troll of the Nine Fells may use you as a woman 6 times a night!" or something like that."

I have always disbelieved that this statement was uttered, and I set out to disprove this story.

I summoned every bit of Old Norse and Northern European Myth knowledge into a small set of synapses and thought "Duh!"

Nels. Isn't that like Njal? Isn't Njal's saga one of the most famous of the Norse sagas?

Too lazy to get off the sofa and walk the ten feet to the bookshelf where Njal's Saga sits, unread, I looked it up on the Intertubes. Found a scanned version of Njala. Searched for every instance of the word "blue", which I don't recall coming across that often. These tales were told primarily for and about warring men, and the color red is one that comes to mind most often, as in the ending line to a Norse poem I recall:

"...I reddened the feet of the greedy eagle"

This could be interpreted as one's guts being torn out by the talons of a bird, but is more likely a reference to being run through by the sword of one's enemy.

Anyhoo...I expected to find no reference to men with blue britches, and found that I was WRONG and that Miss Wartz has a pretty fine memory. It was from Njal's Saga and I quote:

"The Skarphedinn took to himself the silken scarf, but threw a pair of blue breeks to Flosi, and said he would need them more.

'Why,' said Flosi, 'should I need these more?'

'Because,' said Skarphedinn, 'thou art the sweetheart of the Swinefell's goblin, if, as men say, he does indeed turn thee into a woman every ninth night.'"


So ends the story of burnt Njal.

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