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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)

SkP info: I, 159

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Gsind Hákdr 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 2’ 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. 159.

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.

{{{{Almdrósar}} eisu} él}runnr} fór sunnan {einum tveim mǫrum tingls} á grœna trjónu selmeina, þás {allreiðr {vandar Val}sendir} hrauð allar ellifu skeiðar Dana, 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.

Mss: (86v-87r), F(15ra-b), J1ˣ(51v), J2ˣ(49r) (Hkr); 61(4rb), Bb(5va), Flat(7rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] fór: ‘of⸜or⸝’ Flat;    eisu: eisum F    [2] mǫrum: ‘morv’ J1ˣ, ‘níorun’ Bb, ‘moíns’ Flat    [3] tingls: ‘tíngs’ F, ‘tuigls’ J1ˣ, ‘tragls’ Flat;    grœna: grœnan Bb    [4] sel‑: segl‑ 61, sól‑ Bb    [5] allar: allir J1ˣ    [6] allreiðr: ‘alldrídum’ Bb;    skeiðar: skriðar Bb, skreiðar Flat    [7] hrauð: rauð all;    vandar: vindar J1ˣ, J2ˣ, ‘vondar’ Flat    [8] þat: því Bb, þar Flat

Editions: Skj: Goþþormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 2: AI, 62, BI, 55, Skald I, 34, NN §§1052, 2008G, 2910A; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 177, IV, 46-7, ÍF 26, 158-9, Hkr 1991, I, 100 (HákGóð ch. 7), F 1871, 68; Fms 1, 27-8, Fms 12, 26, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 26-7 (ch. 18), Flat 1860-8, I, 52 .

Context: Hákon sails north to Selund (Zealand) in pursuit of vikings. In Eyrarsund (Øresund) he enters into battle with eleven viking ships and again has the victory.

Notes: [1-4]: (a) The standard construal of these lines, adopted here, takes grœna trjónu ‘green snout’ as a f. acc. sg. phrase qualified by the gen. pl. selmeina ‘of seal-wounds [Selund]’, while the following word, tingls ‘of the prow-board’, acts as determinant for the base-word mǫrum ‘steeds, mares’ in l. 2 (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; ÍF 26; Hkr 1991). See further Notes to ll. 4 and 7 below. (b) Kock (NN §1052) combines mǫrum trjónu tingls ‘horses with metal plates on the snout [SHIPS]’ and takes á grœna with selmeina, ‘onto the green [coast] of seal-wounds [Selund]’, in order to rationalise the word order, but the separation of tveim einum ‘only two’ from mǫrum ‘mares’ itself presupposes some complexity of word order, and grœna has to be assumed to be substantival. — [2] sunnan ‘from the south’: This is the most natural interpretation (cf. Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B). It would imply that Hákon had begun his voyage at a point south of Zealand, perhaps indicating incursion into the Danish sphere of influence in the southern Baltic. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26; cf. Hkr 1991) instead tentatively proposed ‘south across the sea’; he cites Sturl Hryn 3/2II, but the sense of sunnan there is probably ‘from the south’. — [3] trjónu ‘snout’: This word (nom. sg. trjóna) refers to the place where Hákon’s expeditionary force landed, presumably a promontory such as the south-east extremity of Zealand, or Helsingør in the north-east (suggested in Hkr 1893-1901, IV). Trjóna also has the sense ‘rod’ (see Note to Þjóð Yt 14/6), but here the sense appears to be ‘snout’, suggested by the idea of ‘seal’ in the p. n. Selund (see Note to l. 4; also st. 3/1). — [3] tingls ‘of the prow-board’: This refers to carved boards, or possibly engraved sheets of metal, forming part of the prow (cf. Þhorn Harkv 7/8, and see Eggert Ó. Brím 1895, 20-3; Shetelig and Falk 1937, 358; Jesch 2001a, 148-9). — [4] selmeina ‘of seal-wounds [Selund]’: An ofljóst on Selund (Zealand), based on a synonym substitution of und f. ‘wound’ for mein n., both ‘wound’, and on the homonymy of und ‘wound’ with the suffix ‑und ‘supplied with, abundant in’ (AEW: und 6), which is the second element in Selund and some other early place names such as Borgund and Eikund. Gen. pl. meina is most probably to be explained as standing for gen. sg. meins (Hkr 1893-1901, IV), in view of the sg. form Selund in st. 3/1. — [7] vandar Valsendir ‘sender of the Valr <horse> of the mast [(lit. Valr-sender of the mast) SHIP > SEAFARER]’: This analysis follows NN §2008G (cf. ÍF 26; Hkr 1991). On the horse-heiti Valr, see Note to Þloft Tøgdr 5/6. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV) instead took val- as val n. ‘the slain’ and analysed the kenning as an inversion of valvandar sendir ‘sender of the wand of the slain [(lit. ‘slain-sender of the wand) SPEAR > WARRIOR]’.

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