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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson (Hharð)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

1. Gamanvísur (Gamv) - 6

Skj info: Haraldr Sigurðarson harðráði, Norsk konge, 1046-66. (AI, 356-61, BI, 328-32).

Skj poems:

See ‘Royal Biographies’ in Introduction to this volume.

Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 5. Biographies > 1. Royal Biographies > 1. Kings of Norway > g. Haraldr III harðráði Sigurðarson (Hharð) (r. 1046-66)

Sagas: ÓH, MH, HSig (Ágr, Flat, Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, Mork, Theodoricus).

Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson was the son of Sigurðr sýr ‘Sow’ and Ásta Guðbrandsdóttir (see Genealogy II.2.f in ÍF 28). He fought alongside his half-brother, Óláfr Haraldsson (S. Óláfr), at the battle of Stiklestad (29 July 1030) and escaped wounded from the battlefield to seek refuge in Russia. After spending some years in the service of Jaroslav of Novgorod, he proceeded from Russia to Byzantium, where he served as a mercenary in the Varangian army before his return to Norway via Russia and Sweden in 1045/46. From 1046 he ruled jointly with his nephew, Magnús inn góði, and after Magnús’s death (25 October 1047) Haraldr was the sole ruler of Norway until he fell at the battle of Stamford Bridge (on 25 September 1066). See Anon Nkt 38-9, Theodoricus (MHN 50-1, 54-7; McDougall and McDougall 1998, 38-9, 43-46), Ágr (ÍF 29, 36-40; Ágr 1995, 52-9), Mork (Mork 1928-32, 55-281; Andersson and Gade 2000, 129-274), Fsk (ÍF 29, 227-90; Finlay 2004, 181-232), ÓHHkr (ÍF 27, 107-8, 347-8, 364; Hollander 1991, 314-15, 488-9, 500-1), HSigHkr (ÍF 28, 68-202; Hollander 1991, 577-663), Flat (Flat 1860-8, III, 287-432), H-Hr (Fms 6, 127-432). See also Hem (Hb 1892-6, 331-49; Fellows-Jensen 1962, 1-64), , Knýtl (ÍF 35, 132-3, 151; Hermann Pálsson and Edwards 1986, 46-7, 60), Orkn (ÍF 34, 53-4, 75-8, 80, 86-7, 339; Hermann Pálsson and Edwards 1987, 56-7, 71-4, 77-8).

Events documented in poetry: The battle of Stiklestad (1030) and Haraldr’s escape to Sweden (Hharð Gamv 1; Hharð Lv 1, 2a-2b; ÞjóðA Sex 1); his journey to Russia and his Russian campaigns 1031-3 (ÞjóðA Run 1, 3; Bǫlv Hardr 1); his journey to Constantinople and his campaigns as a mercenary in the Varangian army 1034-42 (Hharð Gamv 2, 4; Hharð Lv 10-11; Þjóð Sex 2-8; ÞjóðA Lv 4; Ill Har 2-4; Bǫlv Hardr 2-6; ÞSkegg Hardr; Valg Hardr 1-4; Þfisk Lv 2-3; Stúfr Stúfdr 2-3); his return to Russia and marriage to Ellisif (Stúfr Stúfdr 4); his journey to Sweden and his harrying in Denmark with Sveinn Úlfsson (ÞjóðA Sex 9; Valg Hardr 5-9); his meeting and reconciliation with Magnús inn góði (ÞjóðA Sex 10; ÞjóðA Frag 1; Bǫlv Hardr 7); his dealings with Magnús (Mgóð Lv 1; Hharð Lv 3); his return to Norway after Magnús’s death in Denmark in 1047 (Valg Hardr 10-11); his first naval campaign against Sveinn Úlfsson and the Danes in 1048 (Hharð Lv 4; ÞjóðA Lv 2; Bǫlv Hardr 8; Grani Har 1-2; Anon (HSig) 1); subsequent campaigns in Denmark against Sveinn (Hharð Lv 5, 10; ÞjóðA Lv 3-4; Arn Hardr 1; Þfagr Sveinn 2-9; Stúfr Stúfdr 5-6; Anon (HSig) 2, 5); the slaying of Einarr þambarskelfir and other enemies (Hharð Lv 6-8; Arn Hardr 1); the desertion of Norwegian magnates to Sveinn in Denmark (ÞjóðA Sex 12); the battle of the Nissan against Sveinn in 1062 (ÞjóðA Sex 13-18; ÞjóðA Har 1-7; Arn Hardr 2-4; Stúfr Stúfdr 7; Steinn Nizv; Steinn Úlffl); the peace treaty between Haraldr and Sveinn in 1064 (ÞjóðA Sex 23; Halli XI Fl); Haraldr’s campaign against Hákon Ívarsson (ÞjóðA Lv 9); his dealing with Norwegian insurrection (ÞjóðA Sex 19-22; Arn Hardr 5-6); the events leading up to the English campaign in 1066 (Hjǫrtr Lv 1-3; Úlfr Lv; Anon (HSig 6-9); the battles of Fulford and Stamford Bridge (Hharð Lv 13-14; ÞjóðA Lv 10-11; Arn Hardr 7-16; Stúfr Stúfdr 8; Steinn Óldr 1-3; Anon Harst). For þættir and smaller anecdotes involving Haraldr and other poets, see Haraldr Lv 9, 12; ÞjóðA Lv 4-8; SnH Lv; Þfisk Lv; Anon (HSig) 3-4.

Gamanvísur — Hharð GamvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson, Gamanvísur’ 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. 35-41.

 1   2   3   4   5   6 

SkP info: II, 39-40

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Hharð Gamv 4II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson, Gamanvísur 4’ 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. 39-40.

Íþróttir kannk átta:
Yggs fetk líð at smíða;
fœrr emk hvasst á hesti;
hefk sund numit stundum.
Skríða kannk á skíðum;
skýtk ok rœk, svát nýtir;
hvártveggja kannk hyggja
harpslôtt ok bragþôttu.

Kannk átta íþróttir: fetk at smíða {líð Yggs}; emk fœrr hvasst á hesti; hefk numit sund stundum. Kannk skríða á skíðum; skýtk ok rœk, svát nýtir; kannk hyggja hvártveggja harpslôtt ok bragþôttu.

I have eight accomplishments: I forge {Yggr’s <= Óðinn’s> drink} [POETRY]; I am skilled at travelling swiftly on horseback; I have practised swimming on occasion. I can glide on skis; I shoot and row well enough; I can comprehend both harp-playing and poems.

Mss: Mork(3r) (Mork); H(28v), Hr(21ra) (H-Hr)

Readings: [2] Yggs: ‘ygs’ all    [7] hvártveggja kannk hyggja: abbrev. as ‘þo læ. ger. igor.’ H, ‘þo lætr g. i. g.’ Hr    [8] harpslôtt ok bragþôttu: abbrev. as ‘goll. við mer sk’ H, abbrev. as ‘g. við mer skolla’ Hr

Editions: Skj: Haraldr Sigurðarson harðráði, Lausavísur 5: AI, 357, BI, 329 (ll. 1-4), 478 (ll. 5-8), Skald I, 166 (ll. 1-4), 235 (ll. 5-8), NN §§2203B, 2989B; Mork 1867, 15, Mork 1928-32, 86, Andersson and Gade 2000, 149, 473 (MH); Fms 6, 170 (HSig ch. 15).

Notes: [All]: In Mork this is the only jesting verse without refrain. H and Hr add the refrain to conform to the prose text, which states that the sts all end in the same way (ok eitt niðrlag at öllum, Fms 6, 169; so also ÍF 28, 89; ÍF 29, 237). Because this entails omitting two of Haraldr’s eight accomplishments, it hardly represents the original version. For the boasting of such feats, see Jesch 2006. — [1] átta íþróttir ‘eight accomplishments’: According to the st., Haraldr’s eight accomplishments are the following: poetic composition, horseback riding, swimming, skiing, shooting, rowing, and the ability to comprehend (and appreciate) both harp-playing and poetry. Some scholars maintain that the st. only enumerates seven accomplishments (see the summary in Nedrelid 1997), which is difficult to understand. See Note to ll. 7-8 below. — [4] hefk numit sund stundum ‘I have practised swimming on occasion’: The verb nema means ‘learn, acquire’ (cf. LP: nema). However, one can only learn how to swim once, and nema in the present context would seem to mean ‘practise, undertake’ rather than ‘learn’ (see NN §§2203B, 2989B). See also Fritzner: nema 1. — [5-8]: Duplicate Rv Lv 1/5-8. — [6] svá at nýtir ‘well enough’: Lit. ‘so that it is beneficial’. — [7-8] kannk hyggja hvártveggja harpslôtt ok bragþôttu ‘I can comprehend both harp-playing and poems’: For hyggja in the sense ‘comprehend, understand’, see Heggstad, Hødnebø and Simensen 1997: hyggja 3, as well as LP: hyggja 7, which cites Rv Lv 1/7 as an example. Hence the poetry (líð Yggs ‘Yggr’s drink’) that Haraldr forges in the first helmingr refers to his own ability to compose, whereas the poems (bragþættir) mentioned in the second is the poetry composed by others, which Haraldr, who on numerous occasions demonstrates that he is a connoisseur of the art of skaldic poetry, is able to interpret, appreciate and judge. Finnur Jónsson’s translation in Skj B (of Rv Lv 1/7-8), jeg forstår at slå harpen og lægge en vise ‘I understand how to play the harp and arrange a stanza’ implies that Haraldr is the one who has an active command of both harp-playing and poetic composition, thus duplicating one of the accomplishments mentioned in the first half-st. (see Note to l. 1 above).

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