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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ǫlvir hnúfa (Ǫlv)

9th century; volume 1; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

Lausavísa (Lv) - 1

Skj info: Ǫlvir hnúfa, Norsk skjald, 9. årh. (AI, 6, BI, 6).

Skj poems:
1. Af et digt om Tor(?)
2. Lausavísa

The little information we possess about Ǫlvir hnúfa ‘Snub-nose’ (?) (Ǫlv) comes from the following sources: from Egils saga (Eg, ÍF 2, 3-4 n.), where this ninth-century Norwegian skald is said to be the son of Berðlu-Kári, viking companion of Egill Skallagrímsson’s paternal grandfather, Kveldúlfr; from Gullþóris saga (GullÞ), alternatively known as Þorskfirðinga saga (ÍF 13, 226), and from Skálda saga Haralds konungs hárfagra (Skáld) in Hauksbók (Hb 1892-6, 445-55). Two fragments by Ǫlvir have survived: a lausavísa (Ǫlv Lv) from Skáld, edited below, and a couplet (Ǫlv ÞórrIII) from a poem probably about the god Þórr’s fight with the Miðgarðsormr ‘World Serpent’ in mss of SnE (1998, I, 15), edited in SkP III.

Lausavísa — Ǫlv LvI

Margaret Clunies Ross 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Ǫlvir hnúfa, Lausavísa’ 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. 125.


Skj: Ǫlvir hnúfa: 2. Lausavísa (AI, 6, BI, 6); stanzas (if different): [v]

SkP info: I, 126

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Ǫlv Lv 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2012, ‘Ǫlvir hnúfa, Lausavísa 1’ 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. 126.

Lǫgðis hefr of lagða
lauk-Frigg dáin augna
skjalvald á þar skalda
skíðgarðr — saman hvarma.
Ok bandvaniðr blundar
bekkjar hjǫrtr í rekkju
— því hefk fúr-Gnáar fýris
fjón — golfdáinn sjónum.

{Dáin lauk-Frigg lǫgðis} hefr of lagða saman hvarma augna; skíðgarðr á þar skjalvald skalda. Ok {bandvaniðr golfdáinn hjǫrtr bekkjar} blundar sjónum í rekkju; því hefk fjón {fýris fúr-Gnáar}.

{The torpid leek-Frigg <goddess> of the sword} [WOMAN] has placed together the lids of [her] eyes; the paling fence there has gossip-authority over [lit. of] the poets. And {the ribbon-accustomed floor-sluggish hart of the bench} [WOMAN] shuts [her] eyes in bed; therefore I have the hatred {of the Gná <goddess> of the pine-fire} [(lit. ‘of the fire-Gná of pine’) WOMAN].

Mss: Hb(102r) (Hb); 67aˣ(3v) (ll. 1-2), 67bˣ(4) (ll. 1-2) (Skáld)

Readings: [1] Lǫgðis: ‘Lavg[…]’ Hb, Lǫgðis 67aˣ, 67bˣ, HbFms n. p., HbSnE, HbFJ;    of: ‘[…]f’ Hb, of 67aˣ, 67bˣ, HbFms n. p., HbSnE, HbFJ    [2] lauk‑: ‘[...]’ Hb, lauk 67aˣ, 67bˣ, HbFms n. p., HbSnE, HbFJ;    ‑Frigg dáin augna: ‘[…]’ Hb, om. 67aˣ, 67bˣ, ‘friöðam augna’ HbFms n. p., ‘fr. dain augna’ HbSnE, Frigg dáin augna HbFJ    [3] skjal‑: ‘[…]’ Hb, skjöld HbFms n. p., ‘skioll‑’ HbSnE, ‘skiall’ or ‘skiaft’ HbFJ;    ‑vald á þar: valdaðar Hb, HbFJ, ‘[…]ll[…]ar’ HbFms n. p., ‘‑valdaðan’ HbSnE;    skalda: skaldi HbFms n. p., HbSnE    [4] ‑garðr: ‑garð HbSnE    [5] bandvaniðr: ‘ba[…]’ Hb, ‘bandvammar’ HbFms n. p., ‘bandvaniða’ HbSnE, bandvaniðr HbFJ;    blundar: ‘b[…]vndar’ Hb, blundar HbFms n. p., HbSnE, HbFJ    [6] bekkjar: hekkjar HbFms n. p.;    hjǫrtr: ‘hior[…]’ Hb, ‘hjor[…]’ HbFms n. p., hjǫrtr HbSnE, HbFJ;    í rekkju: ‘[…]’ Hb, ‘[…] reckju’ HbFms n. p., í rekkju HbSnE, HbFJ    [7] fúr‑Gnáar fýris: ‘fyrg[…]’ Hb, ‘eyrinn […]ris’ HbFms n. p., fyrgnar fýris HbSnE, HbFJ    [8] fjón golfdáinn sjónum: ‘[…] g[…]f dai[…] s[…]um’ Hb, ‘þjón g[…]lfdam slógu’ HbFms n. p., fjón golfdáinn sjónum HbSnE, HbFJ

Editions: Skj: Ǫlvir hnúfa, 2. Lausavísa: AI, 6, BI, 6, Skald I, 4, NN §§2210B, 2985C; Hb 1892-6, 447, Fms 3, n. p., Fms 3, 69 (Skáld); SnE 1848-87, III, 415.

Context: For the full context, see Introduction to Auðunn Lv 2. Ǫlvir and two other poets, Auðunn illskælda and Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, have been tricked out of a night’s sexual enjoyment with a handsome widow, and have been forced to spend the night outdoors in a yard surrounded by a paling fence, whose gate has been locked. Each man composes a stanza about his plight.

Notes: [All]: On the use of early printed eds in the Readings above, see Introduction. As with the stanzas of Auðunn and Þorbjǫrn, Ǫlvir’s stanza is partly illegible in the ms. and difficult to construe. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) hazarded the following summary: Kvinden har lukket sine öjne og jeg holdes fast (indesluttet) i skigærdet; hun blunder nu i sin sæng, medens jeg … ‘The woman has closed her eyes and I am kept firmly (locked up) in the fenced yard; she is now dozing in her bed, while I …’. — [1, 2] dáin lauk-Frigg lǫgðis ‘the torpid leek-Frigg <goddess> of the sword [WOMAN]’: If this is a woman-kenning, as the base-word Frigg and context suggest, it is a somewhat unusual one. There are several issues of concern: (1) the sense of dáin, presumably the p. p. of deyja ‘to die’, used adjectivally, which seems to be echoed by the m. form dáinn in l. 8; (2) whether one should read a cpd lauk-Frigg ‘leek-Frigg’ or laug-Frigg ‘bath/hot spring-Frigg’; and (3) how to understand the determinant lǫgðis, gen. sg. of lǫgðir ‘sword’, which could be expected as part of a warrior-kenning, but not of a kenning for a woman (though see the masculinised woman-kenning bandvaniðr golfdáinn hjǫrtr bekkjar in ll. 5, 6, 8). (1) Dáinn has been understood here in the sense ‘torpid’ rather than ‘dead’, to refer to the slumbering woman, and as ‘sluggish’ in l. 8. (2) Although lauk- rather than laug- has been adopted here because it has the support of earlier eds of Hb and seems to fit the sense of the kenning better, laug- would provide an aðalhending with aug- and may be a preferable reading. (3) It is possible that Ǫlvir has deliberately created aberrant woman-kennings to insult the woman who has humiliated him (as a kind of níð) or that the reference to a sword was a deliberate double entendre. Kock supposed (NN §2210B) that the elements lǫgðis and laukr should be understood together as a cpd sverðlaukr ‘sword-leek’, like geirlaukr ‘garlic’, lit. ‘spear-leek’ and hjalmlaukr, lit. ‘helmet-leek’. — [3] skjalvald ‘gossip-authority’: That is, the skíðgarðr ‘paling fence’ (l. 4) has control of conversation (á vald) over the poets, because it prevents them talking to one another. For this unprecedented cpd, the present ed. is indebted to a suggestion from Kari Ellen Gade. The same fence in Auðunn Lv 2/4 seems to be said to have tricked (vélti) the skald. Previous eds have tried to make sense of Hb’s reading valdaðar, which may rather have been a scribal mis-separation of the words vald á þar. Kock suggests (NN §2210B) that valdaðar means ‘of the ruler, mistress’. — [4] skíðgarðr ‘paling fence’: The prose text of Skáld mentions the skíðgarðr ‘paling fence’ several times. — [5, 6, 8] bandvaniðr golfdáinn hjǫrtr bekkjar ‘the ribbon-accustomed floor-sluggish hart of the bench [WOMAN]’: Another unusual woman-kenning, having a male animal name as base-word. In this case, however, there is a partial comparison in the nickname given to Þóra borgarhjǫrtr ‘Town-hart’ in Ragnars saga ch. 2, whose name is said to derive from the fact that she towered in beauty above all other women like the hart above other animals. This parallel is drawn by Guðmundur Finnbogason (1928, 224-5). Moreover, the epithet bandvaniðr ‘ribbon-accustomed’ refers to woven or embroidered bands or ribbons which are commonly referred to in woman-kennings (Meissner 416-7). Bekkjar is here understood as gen. sg. of bekkr ‘bench’. It could alternatively be gen. sg. of bekkr ‘beck, stream’, although the latter would not make a good connection with the adj. bandvaniðr. The hap. leg. cpd golfdáinn ‘floor-sluggish’ echoes dáin ‘torpid’ (l. 2). — [7-8] því hefk fjón fúr-Gnáar fýris ‘therefore I have the hatred of the Gná <goddess> of the pine-fire [(lit. ‘of the fire-Gná of pine’) WOMAN]’: These lines are understood as a parenthetic clause and the word-divisions of the mss are interpreted following Kock’s suggestions. Skj B interprets fyrgnar as fyr Gnô, presumably ‘before Gná’ and Kock (Skald; NN §2210B) as fúr-Gnáar ‘of fire-Gná’, which he takes with fýris ‘of pine’ (l. 7) to form ‘Gná of pine-fire [WOMAN]’. This seems to be a rare instance of a woman-kenning with ‘fire’ (i.e. domestic fire or hearth) as its determinant (cf. Tindr Hákdr 1/1, 2 and Note; Meissner 417). The fire in this case is specified as fuelled with pine.

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