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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þhorn Gldr 1I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 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. 75.

Þorbjǫrn hornklofiGlymdrápa

Hilmir réð á heiði
hjaldrskíðs þrimu galdra
óðr við œskimeiða
ey vébrautar heyja,
áðr gnapsólar Gripnis
gnýstœrandi fœri
rausnarsamr til rimmu
ríðviggs lagar skíðum.

Hilmir réð heyja {þrimu {hjaldrskíðs}} á heiði, ey óðr við {œskimeiða {galdra {vébrautar}}}, áðr {rausnarsamr {{{Gripnis ríðviggs} gnapsólar} gný}stœrandi} fœri {skíðum lagar} til rimmu.

The ruler commanded that {the noise {of the battle-plank}} [SWORD > BATTLE] be launched on the heath, ever furious at {the wishing trees {of the incantations {of the standard-road}}} [BATTLEFIELD > BATTLE > WARRIORS], before {the magnificent increaser {of the noise {of the jutting sun {of the riding horse of Gripnir <sea-king>}}}} [(lit. ‘noise-increaser of the jutting sun of the riding horse of Gripnir’) SHIP > SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR] sailed into battle {with the skis of the sea} [SHIPS].

Mss: (54v), F(9va), J1ˣ(29v), J2ˣ(31r) (Hkr); 761aˣ(19v)

Readings: [2] ‑skíðs: ‑seiðs F;    þrimu: so F, J2ˣ, 761aˣ, þrumu Kˣ, ‘þrunu’ J1ˣ;    galdra: at gjalda F    [3] óðr: so F, óð Kˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ;    ‑meiða: so F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ, ‑meiði Kˣ    [4] vé‑: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ, var‑ Kˣ, veg‑ F;    ‑brautar: ‑brotar F;    heyja: heygja J1ˣ, J2ˣ, heygjat 761aˣ    [5] ‑sólar: ‑salar all;    Gripnis: grimnis F    [6] ‑stœrandi fœri: corrected from ‘‑storandi fori’ Kˣ, ‘‑storandi fori’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ    [8] ‑viggs: so F, ‑vígs Kˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 22, Skj BI, 20, Skald I, 12-13, NN §§228-9; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 108, IV, 28-9, ÍF 26, 101, Hkr 1991, I, 61-2 (HHárf ch. 9), F 1871, 42.

Context: Hkr describes how Haraldr had a large ship built and manned with his retinue and his berserks. He is reported to have had a large army, and among his followers were many powerful men. Stanzas 1 and 2 are cited without interruption after being introduced as Hornklofi’s report of the battle against the Orkndœlir (people of Orkdalen, a district in Sør-Trøndelag, Norway) at Uppdalsskógr.

Notes: [1-4]: This helmingr has been subject to numerous interpretations. All agree on Hilmir réð heyja ... ey óðr við œskimeiða ... ‘The ruler commanded that ... be launched, ever furious at the wishing trees ...’ (or ‘The ruler launched ...’, taking réð in réð heyja as a pleonastic auxiliary). Terms for ‘battle’ are to be expected both as the object of heyja ‘launch’ and as the determinant of œskimeiða ‘wishing trees’, and the interpretations differ over the detail of these. (a) The solution adopted in this edn (as in ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991) is essentially that of Kock (NN §228). He takes þrimu hjaldrseiðs ‘noise of the battle-fish [SWORD > BATTLE]’ as the object of heyja ‘launch’, and the remaining words as a warrior-kenning: œskimeiða galdra vébrautar ‘of the wishing trees of the incantations of the standard-road [BATTLEFIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR]’. The interpretation given here differs from Kock in choosing the variant hjaldrskíðs ‘of the battle-plank [SWORD]’; see Note to l. 2. (b) Þrimu, translated as ‘battle’, is taken as the object of heyja by Finnur Jónsson (1884, 66-8; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) and Eggert Ó. Brím (ÓT 1892, 345). They then assume that œskimeiða forms a kenning with galdra vébrautar hjaldrseiðs, hence ‘wishing trees of the incantations of the holy (powerful) way (?) of the battle-fish [SWORD > SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR]’ (on the variant hjaldrseiðs see Note to l. 2). The adjectival phrase beginning ey óðr ‘ever furious’ which qualifies hilmir ‘ruler’ is assumed to refer to Haraldr effecting peace. Problems with this interpretation are the use of þrima alone for ‘battle’, of which only one example is known (Arn Þorfdr 8/1II; see Reichardt 1928, 25), and the unclear meaning of vébraut (on which, see Note to l. 4). (c) Fidjestøl (1982, 74-6) combines œskimeiða wishing trees’ with galdra ‘of incantations’ to form a sorcerer-kenning ‘wishing trees of incantations’. He adduces the fact that Haraldr hárfagri took action against sorcerers, as well as against thieves (st. 2). However, Fidjestøl’s interpretation produces an overdetermined battle-kenning as the object of heyja ‘launch’: þrimu vébrautar hjaldrseiðs ‘noise of the holy path of the battle-fish [SWORD > SHIELD > BATTLE]’. Þrimu hjaldrseiðs ‘noise of the battle-fish’ in l. 2 is already a battle-kenning, leaving vébrautar in l. 4 redundant. Moreover, l. 4 is split three ways: ey, vébrautar, heyja. (d) For further, less convincing interpretations see Reichardt (1928, 25-6) and Mohr (1933, 11). — [1] á heiði ‘on the heath’: Finnur Jónsson (1884, 68) and Eggert Ó. Brím (ÓT 1892, 345) equate this with the Uppdalsskógr named in Hkr (ÍF 26, 101), which lies in the higher part of the valley Orkadalr (Orkdalen), but there is no evidence for that (Holtsmark 1927, 20-1). — [2] hjaldrskíðs ‘of the battle-plank [SWORD]’: This is the variant in and most of the other mss. Only F has -seiðs, which if gen. sg. of seiðr ‘pollack, saithe, coalfish’ (gadus virens, or else pollachius pollachius), would also produce a standard sword-kenning, namely ‘battle-fish’. It is adopted by Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B), Kock (NN §228) and most other eds. — [4] vébrautar ‘of the standard-road [BATTLEFIELD]’: This kenning has been interpreted in various ways. (a) In this edn (following Kock NN §228) it is understood as a kenning for ‘battlefield’, since, although unparalleled, this provides the least problematic solution. On the meaning of , here ‘standard’, cf. LP: 2 and st. 2/8 below. Other interpretations are as follows. (b) In LP: vébraut Finnur Jónsson translates the cpd as stærk værnende vej(?) ‘strong, protecting path (?)’, cf. also Finnur Jónsson (1884, 66-8; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B); Eggert Ó. Brím (ÓT 1892, 345). (c) Fidjestøl (1982, 74-6) understands it as a base-word of a shield-kenning ‘path of the sword’; cf. also (less convincingly) Holtsmark (1927, 13-20). (d) For further suggestions see Reichardt (1928, 25-6) and Mohr (1933, 11). — [5-8]: This helmingr has likewise been subject to numerous interpretations. All agree on the sentence structure produced by the base-words of the kennings: áðr rausnarsamr ... gnýstœrandi fœri skíðum ... til rimmu ‘before the magnificent increaser of the noise ... sailed into battle with the skis ...’, but four different ways of associating the numerous genitives with the respective kennings have been considered. (a) The arrangement presented above follows Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV). It involves a minimal emendation of -salar ‘of the hall’ to sólar ‘of the sun’ in l. 5. (b) Very similar is Fidjestøl’s suggestion (1982, 76), which reverses the determinants of the two ship-kennings to produce ríðviggs lagar ‘of the riding horse of the sea’ for the first kenning, and skíðum Gripnis ‘with the skis of Gripnir’ for the second. This edn nonetheless prefers interpretation (a) because one would expect the contiguous gnapsólar (ms. gnapsalar) Gripnis (l. 5) to belong to the same kenning. (c) Kock (NN §229, followed in ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991) seeks to avoid emendation in the first kenning by reading gnýstœrandi gnapsalar Gripnis ‘the increaser of the noise of the jutting hall of Gripnir <sea-king> [SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR]’. This is convincing in itself, but entails also reading skíðum ríðviggs lagar ‘on the skis of the riding horse of the sea [SHIP]’. This would be a kind of interpreted metaphor, in that the ship-kenning explains the metaphor ‘skis’, but such constructions are unusual in skaldic poetry. — [5] gnapsólar ‘of the jutting sun’: Holtsmark (1927, 21-2) interprets the base-word of the shield-kenning by reference to a passage in HHund I 33/2-4, in which a red shield with a golden rim is raised up on the mast as a sign of attack. — [5] Gripnis ‘of Gripnir <sea-king>’: Other than this instance, the name is attested only as a giant-heiti (Þul Jǫtna II 2/5III). Here it is likely to refer to a sea-king (LP: Gripnir 2).


  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. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. 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.
  6. Fidjestøl, Bjarne. 1982. Det norrøne fyrstediktet. Universitet i Bergen Nordisk institutts skriftserie 11. Øvre Ervik: Alvheim & Eide.
  7. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  8. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  10. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  11. Finnur Jónsson. 1884. Kritiske studier over en del af de ældste norske og islandske skjaldekvad. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  12. Mohr, Wolfgang. 1933. Kenningstudien. Beiträge zur Stilgeschichte der altgermanischen Dichtung. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer.
  13. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1928. Studien zu den Skalden des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Palaestra 159. Leipzig: Mayer & Müller.
  14. ÓT 1892 = Eggert Ó. Brím, ed. 1892. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar. Reykjavík: Ísafoldarprentsmiðja.
  15. Holtsmark, Anne. 1927. Þórbjørn Hornklofes Glymdrápa. Oslo: Aschehoug & Co.
  16. Internal references
  17. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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].
  18. Not published: do not cite (HHárfII)
  19. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 8’ 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. 238-40.

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