Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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EValg Lv 1I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyjólfr Valgerðarson, 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. 276.

Eyjólfr ValgerðarsonLausavísa1

Selit maðr vápn við verði;
verðr dynr, ef má, sverða;
verðum Hropts at herða
hljóð; eigum slǫg rjóða.
Vér skulum Gorms af gǫmlu
Gandvíkr þokulandi
— hǫrð, es vôn, at verði
vápnhríð — sonar bíða.

Selit maðr vápn við verði; {dynr sverða} verðr, ef má; verðum at herða {hljóð Hropts}; eigum rjóða slǫg. Vér skulum bíða {sonar Gorms} af gǫmlu þokulandi Gandvíkr; es vôn, at verði {hǫrð vápnhríð}.

May no man sell his weapon for a price; {a tumult of swords} [BATTLE] will come about if it can; we must vigorously pursue {the noise of Hroptr <= Óðinn>} [BATTLE]; we have to redden weapons. We must wait for {the son of Gormr} [= Haraldr] from the ancient mist-land of Gandvík; there is expectation that {a harsh weapon-storm} [BATTLE] will come about.

Mss: 291(12v) (Jvs)

Readings: [2] verðr: verði 291    [3] Hropts: ‘hǽ̨ft’ 291

Editions: Skj AI, 100, Skj BI, 95, Skald I, 55, NN §2435; Fms 11, 43, Fms 12, 237, Jvs 1882, 36, Jvs 1969, 100, 211.

Context: King Haraldr Gormsson of Denmark brings a fleet against Norway but, once a formidable force has gathered around Hákon jarl Sigurðarson, decides against war and instead considers attacking Iceland in revenge for the níð stanza Anon (ÓTHkr). Eyjólfr Valgerðarson composes the present stanza when his retainer has sold his axe in exchange for a cloak, and when Haraldr’s hostile intention has become known in Iceland. After the stanza we are told that Haraldr sensibly accepted his counsellors’ advice to return to Denmark.

Notes: [1] selit maðr ‘may no man sell’: Lit. ‘may a man not sell’.  — [1] verði ‘a price’: The word is strikingly reinforced by repetition of the syllable verð- and by supporting assonance throughout the stanza, perhaps deliberately conveying the speaker’s disgust at the idea of selling out. — [2] verðr (3rd pers. sg. pres. indic.) ‘will come about’: The corresponding subj. form verði in the sole ms. makes the line hypermetric (as pointed out by Kock, NN §2435), and may well have resulted from mistaken repetition of the preceding word verði. Skj B on the other hand retains verði. — [3] Hropts ‘of Hroptr <= Óðinn>’: Ms. ‘hǽ̨ft’, normalised hæft ‘worthily’, makes sense in l. 3, modifying herða ‘harden, vigorously pursue’, which could be intransitive, and it may have been erroneously introduced for this reason, but this leaves hljóð ‘noise’ isolated. Emendation to Hropts (adopted in Skj B) produces a standard battle-kenning with hljóð ‘noise’ as base-word and an Óðinn-heiti as determinant (see Meissner 189). This also fits well in context, since herða very frequently has an expression for ‘battle’ as its object (see LP: 2. herða 2). It is therefore adopted here. — [5] Gorms ‘of Gormr’: King Gormr inn gamli ‘the Old’, who ruled from a power-base at Jelling in Jutland in the mid ninth century and was buried there c. 958. The details of the emergence of his dynasty are unclear (Skovgaard-Petersen 2003, 168, 174). — [5-6] af gǫmlu þokulandi Gandvíkr ‘from the ancient mist-land of Gandvík’: This is difficult to identify, not least because af ‘from’ could point either to the land from which Haraldr Gormsson is expected, or to the place from which the speaker is awaiting him. Gandvík (here gen. sg. Gandvíkr) normally refers to the White Sea, possibly because ‘magic staff or object’ is among the meanings of gandr m., and the Saami had a reputation for sorcery (LP, CVC: Gandvík). The þokuland ‘mist-land’ of Gandvík would therefore presumably be Norway (Fms 12, 289 suggests Finnmark standing for Norway), from where the Icelanders expect an attack by Haraldr. However, LP: Gandvík takes the ‘mist-land’ of Gandvík as Iceland (so also Fms 12, 237), suggesting that Gandvík in this instance denotes the Arctic Ocean in general. Ólafur Halldórsson (Jvs 1969, 211) also takes this as a reference to Iceland, and emends af ‘from’ to ‘to, against’. He suggests (ibid., 211 n.) that þoku could be an error for þekju ‘thatch, roof’, and that the roof of Gandvík is ‘ice’. — [7-8] at verði hǫrð vápnhríð ‘that a harsh weapon-storm [BATTLE] will come about’: Cf. verðr ‘will come about’, which similarly anticipates conflict in l. 2. Alternatively, the adj. hǫrð could be understood as predicative, hence ‘that the weapon-storm will be(come) harsh’.


  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  7. 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.
  8. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  9. Jvs 1882 = Petersens, Carl af, ed. 1882. Jómsvíkinga saga efter Arnamagnæanska handskriften No. 291 4:to i diplomatariskt aftryck. SUGNL 7. Copenhagen: Berling.
  10. Jvs 1969 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1969a. Jómsvíkinga saga. AM 291 4to. Reykjavík: Prentsmiðja Jóns Helgasonar HF.
  11. Skovgaard-Petersen, Inge. 2003. ‘The Making of the Danish Kingdom’. In Helle 2003, 168-83.
  12. Internal references
  13. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Eyjólfr Valgerðarson’ 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. 275.
  14. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Lausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla’ 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. 1073.

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