The World’s Best English Epic Poetry – Fridthjof’s Saga (in English Translation)

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The world’s best English epic and narrative poetry includes Tegnér‘s Fridthjof’s Saga. Translated from Old Norse (via Swedish), this wonderful saga narrates the growing, mutual love between the low-born – but noble-spirited – Fridthjof, and the beautiful Princess Ingeborg.

Ingeborg was never free to dispose her affections as she wished: eighth century realpolitik means that royal marriages are another tool to effect policy: Ingeborg knew and accepted this. But she cannot stop her admiration – and her love – blossoming for Fridthjof: the renowned son of her father’s loyal and most outstanding subject. When her father dies – and her brothers, Helge and Halfdan, assume the sovereignty of Sogn: Fridthjof rapidly falls out of favour with the new monarchs. Rejecting Fridthjof’s suit for Ingeborg with disdain: Helge and Halfdan betroth their sister instead to a powerful neighbour, King Ring: to secure his peaceful intentions towards their own kingdom.

To get Fridthjof out of the way – and avoid an untimely feud – Fridthjof is dispatched as Sogn’s ambassador, to gather unpaid tribute from a remote principality. When Fridthjof eventually discovers the deception and his betrayal by Helge and Halfdan, it is too late: King Ring has already departed back to Ringric with his new bride.

Livid with rage, Fridthjof departs into exile: sailing the world in a futile attempt to forget Ingeborg. During this time, Ingeborg learns to respect her much older husband: her true feelings for Fridthjof remaining well hidden. For Ingeborg can never pretend to herself that her love for Fridthjof has vanished: so she entombs her feelings inside her heart’s deepest recesses, ensuring they never resurface.

  • Helge, Halfdan and  Fridthjof mutually despise each other. Can Ingeborg really hope to prevent the bloodbath looming in Sogn when her original lover eventually returns to confront her brothers over their blatant betrayal?
  • Returning from exile, Fridthjof travels to Ringric in disguise to see Ingeborg first-hand once more: before planning to take ship for southern lands, never to return. But will the overwhelming temptation to make himself known to Ingeborg prove his undoing?

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