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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Guthormr sindri (Gsind)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Russell Poole;

Hákonardrápa (Hákdr) - 8

Skj info: Goþþormr sindri, Norsk. Det 10. årh. (AI, 61-63, BI, 55-56).

Skj poems:

Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 273) lists Guthormr (Gsind) among the skalds serving the following kings: Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’; Hálfdan svarti ‘the Black’ Haraldsson (no other skalds listed; omitted in the U text of Skáldatal); and Hákon góði ‘the Good’. Of the poems he may have composed for these rulers, only eight stanzas are extant, all apparently from Hákonardrápa (Hákdr).

Little is otherwise known about Guthormr’s identity, life and career. His place of origin is unknown, but Icelandic birth is hardly likely at this early date, and the name was always much commoner in Norway than in Iceland (Lind 1905-15, 397); equally unknown are his patronymic or matronymic. On the basis of internal evidence in Hákdr, he must have survived the battle at Rastarkálfr on the island of Fræði (Frei) c. 955; he is not mentioned after the death of King Hákon (c. 961), by which time, if he indeed composed for Haraldr hárfagri, he would have been an old man. The sole anecdote about Guthormr, transmitted in Hkr (HHárf, ÍF 26, 141-2) and ÓT (1958-2000, I, 12-13), tells that he was a good skald and a member of the following of Hálfdan svarti. He had earlier been in the entourage of Hálfdan’s father Haraldr hárfagri, was a friend of both men, and had composed a poem about each of them, for which he declined any reward, asking instead that the two men grant a special request from him on some future occasion. When Haraldr and Hálfdan subsequently fell out, his request was that they reconcile with one another, which they did. Credence is lent to this story by the Sendibítr of Jórunn skáldmær (Jór Send), which makes allusion to Guthormr and his stratagem with evident approval, though the details remain obscure (Kreutzer 1972; Jesch 1987, 6-10).

The spelling of the skald’s given name varies (Lind 1905-15, 397) and it is often abbreviated in references to him. The variation may reflect dual origins, in compounds of goð ‘god’ with either þormr ‘protector’ or ormr ‘snake’; alternatively the ‑ormr variant may derive from ‑þormr (AEW: Guðþormr). The name is mentioned in Jór Send 5/3 (see below) but the internal rhyming there provides no means of determining whether the first syllable terminated in ‑t or ‑ð. The standard spelling for the name when used in reference to this individual in the kings’ sagas was apparently Guthormr (Finnur Jónsson, LH I, 442), and that has been adopted in this edition. His nickname is vouched for in Jór Send 4/8. It may mean ‘Spark’ but its exact significance remains unclear. The name Sindri appears in SnE ms. R (added in a later hand) in reference to a dwarf craftsman (SnE 1998, I, 141) and is etymologically related to sindr n. ‘slag, dross’ (CVC: sindr; cf. LH I, 442 n. 4) and sindra ‘to sparkle’ (Lind 1920-1, 308). The nickname may therefore relate to smithing and crafts, perhaps meaning ‘metal-worker’, though the sense ‘shining’ is also possible, given that a mythical hall made of gold is said to be either owned by Sindri’s kin (Vsp 37/3-4) or named Sindri (SnE 2005, 53).

Hákonardrápa (‘Drápa about Hákon’) — Gsind HákdrI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 156.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Goþþormr sindri: Hákonardrápa (AI, 61-3, BI, 55-6)

in texts: Flat, HákGóð, Hkr, ÓT

SkP info: I, 156

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


1 Bifrauknum trað bekkjar
blárǫst konungr ôrum;
mætr hlóð mildingr Jótum
Mistar vífs í drífu.
Svangœðir rak síðan
sótt Jalfaðar flótta
— hrót Giljaðar hylja —
hrafnvíns at mun sínum.
The king trod the blue trail [sea] in shuddering draught animals of the rowing-bench [SHIPS] with oars; the excellent generous one heaped up the Jótar in the snow-storm of the woman of Mist <valkyrie> [VALKYRIE > BATTLE]. The benefactor of the swan of raven-wine [(lit. ‘swan-benefactor of raven-wine’) BLOOD > RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR] then pursued those who fled with the illness of Jǫlfuðr <= Óðinn> [SPEAR] at his pleasure; the roofs of Giljaðr <= Óðinn> [SHIELDS] conceal [them].
2 Almdrósar fór eisu
élrunnr mǫrum sunnan
trjónu tingls á grœna
tveim einum selmeina,
þás ellifu allar
allreiðr Dana skeiðar
Valsendir hrauð vandar
víðfrægr at þat síðan.
The bush of the storm of the fire of the bow-woman [(lit. ‘storm-bush of the fire of the bow-woman’) VALKYRIE > SWORD > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Hákon] went from the south with only two steeds of the prow-board [SHIPS] on to the green snout of seal-wounds [Selund] when the utterly enraged sender of the Valr <horse> of the mast [(lit. ‘Valr-sender of the mast’) SHIP > SEAFARER = Hákon] cleared all eleven ships of the Danes, widely famed for that afterwards.
3 Selund náði þá síðan
sóknheggr und sik leggja
vals ok Vinða frelsi
víð Skáneyjar síðu.
The attack-cherry-tree [WARRIOR = Hákon] then afterwards succeeded in placing under himself Zealand, the broad sanctuaries against slaughter and the Wends, [and] the coast of Skåne.
4 Skattgilda vann skyldir
skautjalfaðar Gauta;
gollskýflir vann gjǫflastr
geirveðr í fǫr þeiri.
The requisitioner of the sail-bear [SHIP > SEAFARER] made the Gautar tribute-paying; the most generous gold-destroyer [GENEROUS MAN] made spear-storms [BATTLES] on that expedition.
5 Ok sóknhattar setti
svellrjóðr at því fljóði
Ónars eiki grónu
austr geðbœti hraustan,
þann, es áðr frá Írum
íðvandr of kom skíðum
salbrigðandi Sveigðis
svanvangs liði þangat.
And the reddener of the ice of the attack-hat [(lit. ‘ice-reddener of the attack-hat’) HELMET > SWORD > WARRIOR = Hákon] placed the valiant morale-improver [RULER = Tryggvi] in the east over that woman of Ónarr <giant> [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘land’)], grown with oak, that man, a diligent cleaver of the hall of Sveigðir <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘diligent hall-cleaver of Sveigðir’) SHIELD > WARRIOR = Tryggvi], who had previously brought his following there from the Irish on the skis of the swan-plain [SEA > SHIPS].
6 Valþagnar lét vegnum
vígnestr saman bresta
handar vafs of hǫfðum
hlymmildingum gildir.
Þar gekk Njǫrðr af Nirði
nadds hámána raddar
valbrands víðra landa
vápnunduðum sunda.
The payer of the coil of the arm [ARM-RING > GENEROUS MAN = Hákon] let war-needles [SPEARS] clash together over the heads of the slain bestowers of the tumult of Valþǫgn <valkyrie> [(lit. ‘tumult-bestowers of Valþǫgn’) BATTLE > WARRIORS]. There the Njǫrðr <god> of the voice of the high moon of the spear [SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Hákon] went from the weapon-wounded Njǫrðr <god> of the wide lands of the inlets of the slaughter-fire [SWORD > BLOOD > SHIELDS > WARRIOR = Guthormr Eiríksson].
7 Almdrógar varð œgis
opt sinn, en þess minnumk,
barma ǫld fyr Baldri
bensíks vita ríkis.
Bǫðsœkir helt bríkar
brœðr síns ok rak — flœðu
undan — allar kindir
Eireks á haf snekkjum.
The progeny of the brother of the intimidator of the bow-string [WARRIOR = Hákon > = Eiríkr blóðøx > = Eiríkssynir] were obliged many a time to realise [his, Hákon’s] power in the face of the Baldr <god> of the wound-fish [SWORD > WARRIOR = Hákon], and I commemorate this. The attacker of the battle-board [(lit. ‘battle-attacker of the board’) SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon] steered warships out to sea and chased all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother; they fled away.
8 Hræddr fór hjǫrva raddar
herr fyr malma þverri;
rógeisu gekk ræsir
ráðsterkr framar merkjum.
Gerra gramr í snerru
geirvífa sér hlífa,
hinns yfrinn gat, jǫfra,
óls kvánar byr mána.
The army went in dread of the voice of swords [BATTLE] before the diminisher of metal weapons [WARRIOR = Hákon]; the impeller of the strife-fire [SWORD > WARRIOR = Hákon] advanced, strong in counsel, ahead of the standards. The king of princes [= Hákon] does not protect himself in the onslaught of spear-women [VALKYRIES > BATTLE], he who attained an outstanding fair wind of the wife of the affliction of the moon [GIANT > GIANTESS > MIND].
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