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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (Rv)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Judith Jesch;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 32

Skj info: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Orknøsk jarl og skjald, d. 1158. (AI, 505-28, BI, 478-87).

Skj poems:
Lausavísur
Lausavísur [33-35]

Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson, jarl of Orkney, is known primarily from Orkn, in which he is one of the main characters, but he is also mentioned in other texts, including Hkr (ÍF 28, 324-5) and Icel. annals (Storm 1888, 20-1, 60, 113-14, 116, 120, 321-2, 324). He was born Kali Kolsson, the son of a Norw. nobleman from Agder, Kolr Kalason, and Gunnhildr, the sister of the martyred S. Magnús of Orkney (ÍF 34, 101-2). Orkn recounts various episodes from Rǫgnvaldr’s youth, in Norway and elsewhere, several of them associated with lvv. (see below). Though we are not told how and when he learned the skaldic art, his grandfather Kali Sæbjarnarson is said to have been good at poetical composition (ÍF 34, 95) and indeed Orkn preserves one st. by him (Kali Lv). Kali Kolsson was given the name Rǫgnvaldr by King Sigurðr jórsalafari Magnússon when he also made him joint jarl of Orkney with Páll Hákonarson. There are relatively few lvv. associated with Rǫgnvaldr’s assumption of power in Orkney and subsequent political affairs, though both are recounted at length in the saga. Rǫgnvaldr is remembered for his poetry, especially that composed during his crusade to the Holy Land in 1151-3, and for instigating the building of the cathedral in Kirkwall, dedicated to his uncle S. Magnús. Rǫgnvaldr was killed in Caithness in an ambush by political opponents in 1158 (according to the Icel. annals, but 1159 according to the internal chronology of Orkn, cf. ÍF 34, xc) and is remembered as a saint. His relics were translated in 1192 (according to the Icel. annals) and a skull and some bones found in St Magnus Cathedral may have been his (Jesch and Molleson, 2005). There are thirty-five lvv. attributed to Rǫgnvaldr, of which thirty-two are preserved in mss of Orkn and edited here. Three further lvv. (Rv Lv 33-5III) are edited in SkP III, along with Háttalykill (RvHbreiðm HlIII), a poetical guide to metres composed by Rǫgnvaldr jointly with Hallr Þórarinsson breiðmaga.

Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 5. Biographies > 2. Biographies of Other Dignitaries > e. Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson

Jarl Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson of Orkney is not commemorated in praise poetry, and his biography is therefore not included here. For his life and poetic works, see his skald Biography.

Lausavísur — Rv LvII

Judith Jesch 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 575-609.

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Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson: Lausavísur (AI, 505-12, BI, 478-87); stanzas (if different): 33 | 34 | 35

in texts: Flat, LaufE, LaufE, Orkn

SkP info: II, 575-609

notes: Last three verses are in SnE/LaufE

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Tafl emk ǫrr at efla;
íþróttir kannk níu;
týnik trauðla rúnum;
tíðs mér bók ok smíðir.
Skríða kannk á skíðum;
skýtk ok rœk, svát nýtir;
hvártveggja kannk hyggja:
harpslôtt ok bragþôttu.
I am quick at playing board games; I have nine skills; I forget runes slowly; the book is a preoccupation with me and also craftsmanship. I am able to glide on skis; I shoot and I row so that it makes a difference; I am able to understand both: harp-playing and poems.
2 Vér hǫfum vaðnar leirur
vikur fimm megingrimmar;
saurs vasa vant, es vôrum,
viðr, í Grímsbœ miðjum.
Nús, þats môs of mýrar
meginkátliga lôtum
branda elg á bylgjur
Bjǫrgynjar til dynja.
We have waded the mud-flats for five mightily grim weeks; there was no lack there of muck when we were in the middle of Grimsby. Now it is the case that mightily merrily we cause the elk of the prow [SHIP] to boom on the waves to Bergen across the marshes of the gull [SEA].
3 Hér hefk hávan reistan
harðgeðjuðum varða
Dolls í døkkum helli
draug; leitak svá bauga.
Eigi veitk, hverr ýta
unnskíða ferr síðan
langa braut ok ljóta
leið of vatn it breiða.
Here I have raised a high cairn to a strong-minded ghost in dark Dollsteinshola; in this way I look for rings. I do not know who among the pushers of wave-skis [SHIPS > SEAFARERS] will go later the long and ugly way, the route across the broad lake.
4 Sextán hefik sénar
senn ok topp í enni
jarðar elli firrðar
ormvangs saman ganga.
Þat bôrum vér vitni,
vestr at hér sé flestar
— sjá liggr út við élum
ey — kollóttar meyjar.
I have seen sixteen [women] all at once, denuded of the old age of the ground of the serpent-field [GOLD > WOMAN > BEARD], and [they had] a fringe on their forehead, walking together. We bore witness to the fact that, here in the west, most maidens are bald; that island lies out in the direction of storms.
5 Liggja sék á leggjum
(láss bannar þér rásir)
kveldfǫrlustum karli
(Kúgi) járn in bjúgu.
Eiguð aldri, Kúgi,
— aptr munt settr af prettum —
— nauðrs at nýta eiða —
náttþing, ok halt sáttir.
I see the curved irons lying on the legs of the old man who was out and about most in the evening; Kúgi, the lock prevents you from running. Never hold night-meetings, Kúgi, and keep to agreements; you will be hindered from treacherous deeds; it is necessary to keep to oaths.
6 Aldr hefk frétt, þats feldu
fránstalls konur allar
— verðrat menja myrðir
mjúkorðr — hǫfuðdúkum.
Nú tér Hlǫkk of hnakka
haukstrindar sér binda
— skrýðisk brúðr við bræði
bengagls — merar tagli.
I have always understood that all women wrapped themselves in headdresses of snake-support [GOLD]; the murderer of neck-ornaments [GENEROUS MAN = Rǫgnvaldr] will not be gentle in his speech. Now the Hlǫkk <valkyrie> of the hawk-land [ARM > WOMAN = Ragna] ties a mare’s tail around her neck; the lady got dressed up for the feeder of the wound-gosling [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR = Rǫgnvaldr].
7 Hengik hamri kringðan
(hanga rjúfum) tangar
(Grímnis sylg) á galga
ginnungs brúar linna.
Svá hefr glóraddar gladdan,
gagfellis, mik þella,
lóns, at leikk við mínar
lautir, hellis Gauta.
I hang a snake of the bridge of the hawk [ARM > ARM-RING], made round by the hammer, on the gallows of the tongs [ARM]; we [I] reveal the drink of the Grímnir <giant> of hanged ones [= Óðinn > POETRY]. The fir-tree of the gleaming-voice of the Gautar of the cave [GIANTS > GOLD > WOMAN] has gladdened me so much, that I play with my hollows of the backward-bending feller of the lagoon [OAR > HANDS].
8 Brast, þás bæði lesti
— bauð hrǫnn skaða mǫnnum —
— sút fekk veðr it váta
vífum — Hjǫlp ok Fífu.
Sék, at sjá mun þykkja
snarlyndra fǫr jarla
— sveit gat vás at vísu
vinna — hǫfð at minnum.
There was a loud noise when both Hjǫlp and Fífa were damaged; the wave caused men harm; the wet weather gave women sorrow. I see that that voyage of bold-hearted jarls will be kept in memory; the crew got drenching work for sure.
9 Skekk hér skinnfeld hrokkinn;
skrauts mér afar lítit;
stórrs, sás stendr of órum,
stafnvǫllr, yfirhǫfnum.
Nærgis enn af úrgum
álvangs mari gǫngum
— brim rak hest við hamra
húns — skrautligar búnir.
I shake out here a wrinkled leather garment; it provides me with very little finery; the prow-field [SEA] which surrounds our outerwear is big. Some day we’ll go more finely dressed from a spray-swept horse of the eel plain [SEA > SHIP]; surf drove the stallion of the mast-head [SHIP] onto cliffs.
10 Dúsið ér, en Ása
— atatata — liggr í vatni,
— hutututu — hvar skalk sitja? —
— heldrs mér kalt — við eldinn.
You are [all] sitting around by the fire, while Ása—atatata!—is lying in the water—hutututu! Where shall I sit? I am rather cold.
11 Ala kvezk Einarr vilja
engan Rǫgnvalds drengja
— mér kemr Gauts á góma
gjalfr — nema jarlinn sjalfan.
Veitk, at hratzk í heitum
hugþekkr firum ekki;
inn gekk, Yggs þars brunnu
eldar síð á kveldi.
Einarr said that he wished to entertain none of the followers of Rǫgnvaldr except the jarl himself; the roaring sea of Gautr <= Óðinn> [POETRY] comes to my palate. I know that [the one] not amiable to men overturned his promises; I went in where the fires of Yggr <= Óðinn> [SWORDS] burned late in the evening.
12 Skelk aflar Sif silkis
svinn at umbúð minni;
hlær stórum mun meira
mær, an fallit væri.
Fár kann jarl, en árla
(ǫrlyndr) at sjá gǫrla
(hlunns drók eik af unnum
áðr) í fiskivôðum.
The wise Sif <goddess> of silk [WOMAN] makes fun of my outfit; the girl laughs a great deal more than would be right. Few are able to see the jarl clearly in his fishing-gear, yet previously I pulled, gallant [as I am], the oak of the roller [SHIP] from the waves in the early morning.
13 Lætr of ǫxl, sás útar,
aldrœnn, stendr á tjaldi,
sig-Freyr Svǫlnis Vára
slíðrvǫnd ofan ríða.
Eigi mun, þótt œgir
ǫrbeiðanda reiðisk,
bríkruðr bǫðvar* jǫkla
beinrangr framar ganga.
The elderly battle-Freyr <= god> [WARRIOR] who stands further out on the tapestry lets his scabbard-wand of Svǫlnir’s <= Óðinn’s> Várs <goddesses> [VALKYRIES > SWORD] swing down from his shoulder. The bandy-legged tree of the plank of the glaciers of battle [(lit. ‘plank-tree of the glaciers of battle’) SWORDS > SHIELD > WARRIOR] will not go further forward even if the threatener of arrow-requesters [WARRIORS > WARRIOR] gets angry.
14 Fekk í fylkis skikkju
fangramligr ótangi;
rekkr réð hart at hnykkja
hildingi fémildum.
Sterkr vas stála Bjarki;
staka kvôðu gram nǫkkut;
afl hefr eggja skýflir
orðvandr fyr hyggjandi.
The strong-gripped rascal grabbed the cloak of the leader; the man managed to jostle the generous war-leader severely. The Bjarki <legendary hero> of weapons [WARRIOR] was strong; they said the prince stumbled a bit; the speech-impeded destroyer of edges [WARRIOR] has strength instead of intelligence.
15 Vísts, at frá berr flestu
Fróða meldrs at góðu
vel skúfaðra vífa
vǫxtr þinn, konan svinna.
Skorð lætr hár á herðar
haukvallar sér falla
— átgjǫrnum rauðk erni
ilka — gult sem silki.
Wise woman, it is certain that your [hair-]growth surpasses in beauty [that of] pretty much most women with locks [like] the meal of Fróði <legendary king> [GOLD]. The prop of the hawk-field [ARM > WOMAN] lets her hair, yellow like silk, fall onto her shoulders; I reddened the claws of the food-hungry eagle.
16 Orð skal Ermingerðar
ítr drengr muna lengi;
brúðr vill rǫkk, at ríðim
Ránheim til Jórðánar.
Enn, es aptr fara runnar
unnviggs of haf sunnan,
rístum, heim at hausti,
hvalfrón til Nerbónar.
The outstanding warrior will remember the words of Ermingerðr for a long time; the stately lady wants us to ride Rán’s <sea-goddess’s> world [SEA] to the Jordan. We will carve the whale-country [SEA] to Narbonne again, when the trees of the wave-horse [SHIP > SEAFARERS] travel back, home in the autumn, from the south across the sea.
17 Vín bar hvít in hreina
hlað-Nipt alindriptar;
sýndisk fegrð, es fundumsk,
ferðum Ermingerðar.
Nú tegask ǫld með eldi
eljunfrœkn at sœkja
— ríða snǫrp ór slíðrum
sverð — kastala ferðir.
White, the pure headband-Nipt <norn> of forearm-snow [GOLD > WOMAN] served wine; the beauty of Ermingerðr was shown to men when we met. Now staunchly bold people prove ready to attack the men of the castle with fire; sharp swords swing out from scabbards.
18 Muna munk jól, þaus ólum
austr gjaldkera hraustum,
Ullr, at Egða fjǫllum,
undleygs, með Sǫlmundi.
Nú gerik enn of ǫnnur
jafnglaðr, sem vask þaðra,
sverðs at sunnanverðum
svarm kastala barmi.
Ullr <god> of the wound-flame [SWORD > WARRIOR], I will remember the Christmases when we entertained in the east beside Agder’s mountains with Sǫlmundr, the valorous steward. Now, just as glad as I was there, I make, once again, throughout another [Christmas], a swarm of the sword [BATTLE] at the southern perimeter of the castle.
19 Unðak vel, þás vanðisk
víneik tali mínu,
— gæfr vask vǫlsku vífi
vánarlaust — á hausti.
Nú gerik enn, þvít unnum
áttgóðu vel fljóði,
— grjót verðr laust at láta
límsett — ara mettan.
I liked it well in the autumn when the wine-oak [WOMAN] got used to my conversation; I was clearly pleasing to the French woman. Now I make the eagle replete again, because we [I] love the well-born woman well; the mortared stone is starting to come loose.
20 Vôn ák — út á Spáni
vas skjótt rekinn flótti —
— flýði margr af mœði
menlundr — konu fundar.
Því erum vér, at vôru*
væn hljóð kveðin þjóðum,
— valr tók vǫll at hylja —
verðir Ermingerðar.
I have hopes of meeting the woman; the fleeing host was chased swiftly out in Spain; many a neck-ring tree [MAN] fled because of exhaustion. This is why we are worthy of Ermingerðr, because beautiful sounds were spoken to people; corpses began to cover the field.
21 Skalkak hryggr í hreggi,
Hlín, meðan strengr ok lína
svǫrðr fyr snekkju barði,
svalteigar, brestr eigi.
Því réðk hvítri heita
hǫrskorð, es fórk norðan,
— vindr berr snart at sundi
súðmar — konu prúðri.
I shall not be upset in the storm, Hlín <goddess> of the cool plot [SEA > WOMAN], as long as the rope and the line, the hawser before the craft’s prow, does not break. That is what I promised to the pale linen-prop [WOMAN], the splendid woman, when I headed from the north; the wind carries the plank-horse [SHIP] briskly towards the strait.
22 Vindr hefr vǫlsku sprundi
vetrarstund frá mundum
— út berum ás at beita —
austrœnn skotit flaustum.
Verðum vér at gyrða
vánar hart fyr Spáni
— vindr rekr snart at sundi —
Sviðris við rô miðja.
The east wind has, in a winter’s hour, shot the vessels out from the hands of the French woman; we bring out the boom in order to tack. We will have to fasten [the sail] to the middle of the yard-arm of Sviðrir <= Óðinn> [TREE] quite firmly off the coast of Spain; the wind drives [the ship] briskly to the strait.
23 Landi víkr, en leika
lǫgr tér á við fǫgrum
— síð mun seggr at hróðri
seina — norðr at einu.
Þenna rístk með þunnu
— þýtr jarðar men — barði
einum út frá Spáni
ǫfundkrók í dag hróki.
The land veers north continuously, and the sea plays on the beautiful wood; the man [I] is slow to delay the poem. I cut this enmity-detour [lit. enmity-hook] away from Spain with a slender prow today for a certain scoundrel; the necklace of the earth [SEA] resounds.
24 Erlingr gekk, þars okkur,
ógnsterkr, ruðusk merki,
frægr með fremð ok sigri
fleinlundr at drómundi.
Hlóðum vér, en víða
vas blóð numit þjóðum,
— sverð ruðu snjallir fyrðar
snǫrp — blámanna gǫrpum.
Erlingr, the renowned spear-tree [WARRIOR], went, threateningly strong, towards the dromon with success and victory, where our standards were reddened. We piled up the heroes of the black men, and blood was widely taken from the people; valiant men reddened sharp swords.
25 Nennum vér at vinna
— valfall má nú kalla —
(ár hefr drengr í dreyra)
drómund (roðit skjóma).
Þat mun norðr ok norðan
naddregn konan fregna
— þjóð beið ljótt af lýðum
líftjón — til Nerbónar.
We are minded to overpower the dromon; it may now be called a corpse-fall; the warrior has soon reddened his sword in blood. The woman will hear of that spear-rain [BATTLE] north and from the north to Narbonne; the army suffered ugly life-loss from the men.
26 Gekk á drómund døkkvan
— drengr réð snart til fengjar —
upp með œrnu kappi
Auðun fyrstr inn rauði.
Þar nôðu vér þjóðar
— því hefr aldar goð valdit —
— bolr fellr blár á þiljur —
blóði vôpn at rjóða.
Auðun inn rauði (‘the Red’) went first, with sufficient valour, up onto the dark dromon; the warrior went quickly for loot. We were able to redden weapons there in the blood of the army; the God of men has caused that; the black trunk falls onto the planking.
27 Ek hef lagða lykkju
(leiðar þvengs) of heiði
(snotr minnisk þess svanni
sút) fyr Jórðán útan.
En hykk, at þó þykki
þangat langt at ganga
— blóð fell varmt á víðan
vǫll — heimdrǫgum ǫllum.
I have placed a knot on the heath beyond the Jordan; the wise lady will remember this during the sorrow of the thong of the path [SNAKE > WINTER]. And I think that nevertheless it will seem to all stay-at-homes a long way to go there; warm blood fell onto the broad field.
28 Knút ríðum vér kauða
— kemk móðr í stað góðan —
þann í þykkum runni
þessa Lafranzmessu.
We tie that knot for the reprobate in the thick bush this Lawrence-mass; I arrive tired in the good city.
29 Kross hangir þul þessum
— þjóst skyli lægt — fyr brjósti,
— flykkisk fram á brekkur
ferð — en palmr meðal herða.
A cross hangs on the breast of this poet, and a palm between his shoulders; the tumult ought to be lessened; the group crowds forward on the slopes.
30 Villat vinr minn kalla
— varð allr í drit falla —
— nær vas í því œrin
ógæfa — ‘miðhæfi’.
Lítt hykk, at þá þœtti
þengils mágr, es rengðisk,
— leirr fellr grár af gauri —
góligr, í Imbólum.
My friend does not wish to call out ‘miðhæfi’; he fell right down in the shit; there was in that nearly enough bad luck. I think that the in-law of the prince [= Erlingr] seemed not very attractive then, when he mis-stepped in Imbólum; grey mud falls from the ruffian.
31 Ríðum Ræfils Vakri!
Rekuma plóg af akri!
Erjum úrgu barði
út at Miklagarði!
Þiggjum þengils mála!
Þokum framm í gný stála!
Rjóðum gylðis góma!
Gerum ríks konungs sóma!
Let’s ride the Vakr <horse> of Ræfill <sea-king> [SHIP]! Let’s not drive the plough from the field! Let’s plough with a drenched prow out to Constantinople! Let’s receive the wages of the prince! Let’s move forward in the din of weapons [BATTLE]! Let’s redden the gums of the wolf! Let’s create the honour for the powerful king!
32 Nú hafa gœðingar gengit
— goðfjón es þat ljóna —
— upp grafask ill rôð greppa —
œrit mǫrg á sœri.
Þat mun þeygi sjatna
þeim, es svik viðr heima;
stígum létt á lágan
legg, meðan upp held skeggi.
The [Orcadian] lords have now gone back on sufficiently many promises; that shows men’s contempt for God; evil plans of men are dug up. Things will not subside for the one who brings about treachery at home; we [I] step lightly on a low leg while I hold up my beard.
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