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Ragnar Lodbrok during his presentation of Krákumál

Krákumál or the Lay of Kraka is a skaldic poem, consisting of a monologue in which Ragnar Lodbrok is dying in Ælla's snake pit and looks back at a life full of heroic deeds. It was composed in the 12th century, almost certainly in the Scottish islands.[1] It is composed in a kind of háttlausa in 29 stanzas, most of them with ten lines.

In moving and forceful language, the poem deals with the joys of the life of a warrior, the hope that his death will be followed by a gory revenge, and the knowledge that he will soon know the pleasures of Valhalla.

The poem has been translated into several languages and it has contributed to the modern image of a Viking warrior.


The following is the text of the first stanza[2] with a literal translation:[3]

Hjoggum vér með hjörvi.
Hitt vas æ fyr löngu,
es á Gautlandi gengum
at grafvitnis morði;
þá fengum vér Þóru,
þaðan hétu mik fyrðar,
es lyngölun lagðak,
Loðbrók at því vígi;
stakk á storðar lykkju
stáli bjartra mála.
We swung our sword;
that was ever so long ago
when we walked in Gautland
to the murder of the dig-wulf.[4]
Then we received Þóra;
since then
(at that battle when I killed the heather-fish)
people called me Furry-pants.
I stabbed the spear
into the loop of the earth."


  1. ^ Ó Corráin (1979) p. 289
  2. ^ Fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda (ed. 1943/44)
  3. ^ Haukur Þorgeirsson's translation
  4. ^ "Dig-Wolf" (Grafvitni) is a kenning for serpent. It's also one of the eight serpents that Odin says dwell underneath Yggdrasil in Grímnismál.


  • Waggoner, Ben (2009), The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok, The Troth, ISBN 978-0-578-02138-6 
  • Ó Corráin, Donnchadh (Mar 1979) "High-Kings, Vikings and Other Kings". Irish Historical Studies 22 No. 83 pp. 283–323. Irish Historical Studies Publications.

Primary sources[edit]

Other external links[edit]