It is said that Harald made these verses at this time: --
"Advance! advance! No helmets glance, But blue swords play In our array. Advance! advance! No mail-coats glance, But hearts are here That ne'er knew fear."
His coat of mail was called Emma; and it was so long that it reached almost to the middle of his leg, and so strong that no weapon ever pierced it. Then said King Harald Sigurdson, "These verses are but ill composed; I must try to make better;" and he composed the following: --
"In battle storm we seek no lee, With skulking head, and bending knee, Behind the hollow shield. With eye and hand we fend the head; Courage and skill stand in the stead Of panzer, helm, and shield, In hild's bloody field."
"And should our king in battle fall, -- A fate that God may give to all, -- His sons will vengeance take; And never shone the sun upon Two nobler eaglet; in his run, And them we'll never forsake."
95. OF THE BEGINNING OF THE BATTLE.
Now the battle began. The Englishmen made a hot assault upon the Northmen, who sustained it bravely. It was no easy matter for the English to ride against the Northmen on account of their spears; therefore they rode in a circle around them. And the fight at first was but loose and light, as long as the Northmen kept their order of battle; for although the English rode hard against the Northmen, they gave way again immediately, as they could do nothing against them. Now when the Northmen thought they perceived that the enemy were making but weak assaults, they set after them, and would drive them into flight; but when they had broken their shield-rampart the Englishmen rode up from all sides, and threw arrows and spears on them. Now when King Harald Sigurdson saw this, he went into the fray where the greatest crash of weapons was, and there was a sharp conflict, in which many people fell on both sides. King Harald then was in a rage, and ran out in front of the array, and hewed down with both hands; so that neither helmet nor armour could withstand him, and all who were nearest gave way before him. It was then very near with the English that they had taken to flight. So says Arnor, the earls' skald: --
"Where battle-storm was ringing, Where arrow-cloud was singing, Harald stood there, Of armour bare, His deadly sword still swinging. The foeman feel its bite; His Norsemen rush to fight, Danger to share, With Harald there, Where steel on steel was ringing."