Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Note to Þorm Lv 24I

[1-4]: This and the following Notes relate to the main text above. The obscurities of this helmingr, especially the two references to ‘red’ (rjóðr ... rauðum) and the variants en/ in l. 1, have given rise to various interpretations by scribes and eds, and much depends on which ms. readings are adopted. (a) In the interpretation offered here, the text of ÓH is adopted, including the conj. en ‘but’. Rauðum ‘red’ is assumed to mean that the poet is blood-stained. Such a usage is admittedly unparalleled (though roðinn ‘reddened’ is often used this way: see LP: rjóða 2), but this analysis provides the contrast implied by en (I am not ruddy, but I am nonetheless ‘red’), and it helps make sense of hitt in l. 5, which is emphatic. It seems likeliest that the stanza known to both Snorri and the author of Fbr collocated rjóðr ‘ruddy’, rather than rauðr ‘red’, with emka ‘I am not’, since in both the stanza is a response to the question why the poet is so pale. (b) Skj B, by contrast, adopts ‘and not’, and interprets the first three lines to mean ‘I am not red; neither does the white, slender woman have a red-cheeked man’, and this is the reading also of Skald. (c) A further possibility is to take the ‘red man’ in the second clause as a rueful reference to someone other than the speaker, probably a man who is ‘red’ in complexion, healthy and uninjured (so ÍF 6). Reference to a red-haired man, by contrast with the black-haired Þormóðr (Lv 8V (Fbr 26)), is suggested by Finnur Jónsson (Hb 1892-6; Finnur Jónsson 1932-3), but judging from the prose contexts none of the saga authors perceived a reference to a red-haired man here.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  5. ÍF 6 = Vestfirðinga sǫgur. Ed. Björn K. Þórólfsson and Guðni Jónsson. 1943.
  6. Hb 1892-6 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1892-6. Hauksbók udgiven efter de Arnamagnæanske håndskrifter no. 371, 544 og 675, 4° samt forskellige papirshåndskrifter. Copenhagen: Det kongelige nordiske oldskrift-selskab.
  7. Finnur Jónsson. 1932-3. ‘Þórmóðr Kolbrúnarskald’. APS 7, 31-82.
  8. Internal references
  9. Not published: do not cite (FbrV)
  10. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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, pp. clxxvi-clxxix.
  11. Not published: do not cite (Þorm Lv 8V (Fbr 26))


Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.