It does not seem to have been the author's original intention to publish any letterpress to this enormous work, but to let the plates tell their own story, though finally, with the assistance, as is now known, of William Macgillivray, a text, on the whole more than respectable, was produced in five large Ma egil- octavos under the title of Ornithological Biography, of liyr ay.
The legend of Wayland probably had its home in the north, where he and his brother Egil l 2 were the types of the skilled workman, but there are abundant local traditions of the wonderful smith in Westphalia and in southern England.
Such men were Egil, the foe of Eirik Bloodaxe and the friend of lEthelstan; Kormak, the hot-headed champion; Eyvind, King Haakon's poet, called Skaldaspillir, because he copied in his dirge over that king the older and finer Eiriksmal; Gunnlaug, who sang at Ã†thelred's court, and fell at the hands of a brother bard, Hrafn; Hallfred, Olaf Tryggvason's poet, who lies in Iona by the side of Macbeth; Sighvat, Saint Olaf's henchman, most prolific of all his comrades; Thormod, Coalbrow's poet, who died singing after Sticklestad battle; Ref, Ottar the Black, Arnor the earls' poet, and, of those whose poetry was almost confined to Iceland, Gretti, Biorn the Hitdale champion, and the two model Icelandic masters, Einar Skulason and Markus the Lawman, both of the 12th century.
They range from the rough and noble pathos of Egil, the mystic obscurity of Kormak, the pride and grief of Hallfred, and the marvellous fluency of Sighvat, to the florid intricacy of Einar and Markus.
The first (870-980), after noticing the migration of the father and grandfather of the hero poet Egil, and the origin of the feud between them and the kings of Norway, treats fully of Egil's career, his enmity with Eirik Bloodaxe, his service with Ã†thelstan, and finally, after many adventures abroad, of his latter days in Iceland at Borg, illustrating very clearly what manner of men those great settlers and their descendants were, and the feelings of pride and freedom which led them to Iceland.
A Scandinavian witch does the same in the Egil saga.