Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞGísl Búdr 6I

Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorkell Gíslason, Búadrápa 6’ 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. 947.

Þorkell GíslasonBúadrápa

Neytti herr handa;
hríð vas snǫrp branda;
fúst vas fár randa
til fjǫrnis landa.
Fellu fleinbǫrvar;
flugu af streng ǫrvar;
sungu hôtt hjǫrvar
við hlífar gǫrvar.

Herr neytti handa; {hríð branda} vas snǫrp; {fár randa} vas fúst til {landa fjǫrnis}. {Fleinbǫrvar} fellu; ǫrvar flugu af streng; hjǫrvar sungu hôtt við gǫrvar hlífar.

The troop used its hands; {the storm of blades} [BATTLE] was fierce; {the harm of shields} [SWORD] was eager for {the lands of the helmet} [HEADS]. {Spear-trees} [WARRIORS] fell; arrows flew from the bowstring; swords sang loudly against readied shields.

Mss: 61(19vb), 53(16rb), 54(16ra), Bb(26va) (ÓT)

Readings: [4] fjǫrnis: so 53, 54, Fjǫlnis 61, Bb    [5] ‑bǫrvar: ‘‑bauuar’ Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 554, Skj BI, 537, Skald I, 261; Fms 1, 172, Fms 12, 43, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 189 (ch. 90), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 27, 80.

Context: The furious battle between the Jómsvíkingar and Hákon jarl and his forces continues.

Notes: [All]: The end-rhyme extends through each of the two helmingar, rather than being restricted to couplets; see Introduction. — [3] fár randa vas fúst ‘the harm of shields [SWORD] was eager’: There is slight personification of a sword here and in st. 11/4; perhaps also in sungu ‘sang’, l. 7 below. — [4] landa fjǫrnis ‘the lands of the helmet [HEADS]’: (a) The reading of 53 and 54, fjǫrnis ‘of the helmet’, is adopted here (as in Wisén 1870, 64, Skj B, Skald and Ólafur Halldórsson 2000). It yields a well-paralleled head-kenning (Meissner 127) which is also echoed in st. 7/8 stǫllum fjǫrnis ‘supports of the helmet’. (b) ‘Fiolnis’ in 61 and Bb would be gen. sg. of Fjǫlnir, a heiti for Óðinn, whose landa ‘lands’ could be Valhǫll, the home of the dead warriors chosen by Óðinn, and Meissner 426 does list two kennings referring to Valhǫll as Óðinn’s dwelling. However, a statement that swords desired Valhǫll would make little sense. — [8] gǫrvar ‘readied’: The exact sense of the adj. (etymologically ‘made’ from gørva ‘make’, hence often ‘complete’) is uncertain. Finnur Jónsson in Skj B translates udmærkede ‘excellent, distinguished’, and in LP fuldstærke ‘very strong’ (LP: gǫrr 1). The present translation assumes the common sense ‘ready (for)’. Although most skaldic examples of this are completed by a gen. phrase, til ‘for’ + noun, or at ‘to’ + inf., there are absolute examples (LP: gǫrr 4).


  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. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  8. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1870. Úrval af norrænum fornkvæðum handa hinum bókmennta-iðkendum. Lund: Berling.
  9. Ólafur Halldórsson. 2000. Danish Kings and the Jomsvikings in the Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason. London: Viking Society for Northern Research.

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