Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 2II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 2’ 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. 577-8.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

Vér hǫfum vaðnar leirur
vikur fimm megingrimmar;
saurs vasa vant, es vôrum,
viðr, í Grímsbœ miðjum.
Nús, þats môs of mýrar
meginkátliga lôtum
branda elg á bylgjur
Bjǫrgynjar til dynja.

Vér hǫfum vaðnar leirur fimm megingrimmar vikur; vasa vant saurs viðr, es vôrum í miðjum Grímsbœ. Nús, þats meginkátliga lôtum {elg branda} dynja á bylgjur til Bjǫrgynjar of {mýrar môs}.

We have waded the mud-flats for five mightily grim weeks; there was no lack there of muck when we were in the middle of Grimsby. Now it is the case that mightily merrily we cause {the elk of the prow} [SHIP] to boom on the waves to Bergen across {the marshes of the gull} [SEA].

Mss: 325I(6r), Flat(135va) (Orkn)

Readings: [3] vasa (‘var eigi’): er ei Flat    [5] môs: so Flat, mars 325I;    mýrar: mýri Flat    [6] meginkátliga: so Flat, ‘meginkaliga’ 325I    [7] á: so Flat, of 325I

Editions: Skj AI, 505, Skj BI, 479, Skald I, 235, NN §972C; Flat 1860-8, II, 441, Orkn 1887, 96, Orkn 1913-16, 141, ÍF 34, 131 (ch. 60), Bibire 1988, 226.

Context: Ch. 59 of Orkn describes the fifteen-year-old Kali’s trip to England with some merchants; they return to Norway on the same ship in ch. 60.

Notes: [1-6]: The coastal landscape around Grimsby is characterised by both mud-flats and salt-marshes and the town itself was virtually an island with only one road into it at the end of the Middle Ages (Gillett 1970, 1). The st. appears to describe the Norwegians’ regular journey across the mud-flats to the town from their mooring-place in the haven during their stay. The sea-kenning mýrar ms ‘marshes of the gull’ is ironic since by then the sailors have left the marshes behind and the contrast is underlined by the two descriptors in megin- ‘mightily’, which contrast the grimness of their weeks in Grimsby with their pleasure at setting off for home. — [6] meginkátliga ‘mightily merrily’: This adv. could modify the verb dynja in l. 8 (as assumed in ÍF 34). — [7] branda ‘of the prow’: The word brandr refers to a part of the ship, though it is not entirely clear which part, as it is mostly used as a pars pro toto for ‘ship’, especially in kennings like this (Jesch 2001a, 147-8). — [8] til Bjǫrgynjar ‘to Bergen’: The prose context says that the sailors made land in Agder first, before sailing north to Bergen.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  5. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  6. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  7. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Bibire, Paul. 1988. ‘The Poetry of Earl Rǫgnvaldr’s Court’. In Crawford 1988, 208-40.
  9. Gillett, Edward. 1970. A History of Grimsby. London: University of Hull and Oxford University Press.
  10. Orkn 1887 = Gudbrand Vigfusson 1887-94, I.
  11. Internal references
  12. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Orkneyinga saga (Orkn)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  13. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)

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