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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Glúmr Gráf 6I

Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Glúmr Geirason, Gráfeldardrápa 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. 255.

Glúmr GeirasonGráfeldardrápa

Austr rauð jǫfra þrýstir
orðrakkr fyr bý norðan
brand, þars bjarmskar kindir,
brinnanda, sák rinna.
Gótt hlaut gumna sættir
(geirveðr) í fǫr þeiri
(ǫðlingi fekksk ungum)
orð (á Vínu borði).

{Orðrakkr þrýstir jǫfra} rauð brinnanda brand austr fyr norðan bý, þars sák bjarmskar kindir rinna. {Sættir gumna} hlaut gótt orð í þeiri fǫr; {geirveðr} fekksk ungum ǫðlingi á borði Vínu.

{The word-bold crusher of princes} [KING = Haraldr] reddened the flashing sword in the east, north of the settlement, where I saw Permian people flee. {The reconciler of men} [KING = Haraldr] gained a good reputation on that expedition; {a spear-storm} [BATTLE] was granted to the young prince on the banks of the Dvina.

Mss: (117r-v), F(20va), J1ˣ(71r), J2ˣ(67v-68r), 325VIII 1(2va) (ll. 1-3) (Hkr); 61(8ra), 53(5va), 54(1ra), Bb(10va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] rauð: réð 61, 54, Bb    [3] þars (‘þar er’): þar J1ˣ, ‘[…]’ 325VIII 1;    bjarmskar: ‘[…]’ 325VIII 1, bjarma 53, 54, Bb;    kindir: ‘[…]’ 325VIII 1    [4] brinnanda: brinnandi J1ˣ;    sák (‘sa ec’): lét J1ˣ, 53, 54, lítt Bb    [5] hlaut: laut J1ˣ, 61

Editions: Skj AI, 76, Skj BI, 66-7, Skald I, 41NN §§258, 2739, 2987B; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 248, IV, 69, ÍF 26, 217-18, Hkr 1991, I, 145 (HGráf ch. 14), F 1871, 93-4; Fms 1, 63Fms 12, 33, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 64 (ch. 40).

Context: Haraldr makes a raid on Bjarmaland (Permia), wins a battle on the banks of the Vína (River Dvina) and subsequently plunders the country widely.

Notes: [2] fyr norðan bý ‘north of the settlement’: No source specifies which settlement is intended. ÍF 26 (citing Bugge 1910-12, I, 200) suggests the market town later known as Cholmogóri (Kholmogory), somewhat higher than Arkhangelsk on the Dvina. — [3] bjarmskar kindir ‘Permian people’: The people of Bjarmaland, which was probably located around the southern shores of the White Sea, and the basin of the Northern Dvina River, and is now part of the Arkhangelsk Oblast of Russia. It is mentioned in a number of sources, the earliest being the C9th Old English Orosius, which contains the account of the Norwegian Ohthere (Óttarr) to King Ælfred of his visit to the Beormas (Ross 1981, 15-59; see also Note to ǪrvOdd Lv 9/3VIII (Ǫrv 41)). Hkr (ÍF 27, 229) gives an account of a trading visit in the reign of Óláfr helgi, on which grávǫru ok bjór ok safala ‘grey furs, beaver and sable’ were obtained. Koht (1930-3, 24) suggests that Haraldr’s expedition to Bjarmaland had the object of securing trade, and that his nickname gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’ may allude to this, though see Hkr (ÍF 26, 211-12) for the traditional explanation. — [3, 4] brinnanda brand ‘the flashing sword’: (a) Brinnanda is taken here to apply to the sword, calling on the common metaphorical association of swords with fire, which indeed is the literal meaning of brandr. It could refer to the brightness of swords, to sparks glancing off weapons (cf. Arn Magndr 13/3II) or to the burning, wounding effect of swords (cf. Eyv Hák 7/1-2; both are cited by Kock, NN §2739). (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B reads brinnanda with , hence ‘burning town’, suggesting that the raiders have set the town alight. — [4] sák ‘I saw’: This reading promotes the poet’s claim to have been an eyewitness to Haraldr’s raid, though there is no other evidence for this. The reading lét ‘(he) made (peoples flee)’ in J1ˣ, 53 and 54 is preferred by Fms. — [5-8]: The construal here agrees with Skj B and ÍF 26, since it is more natural to take orð ‘reputation’ (l. 8) as the object of hlaut ‘gained’ (l. 5) than geirveðr ‘spear-storm’, as Kock (NN §258) suggests. It entails assuming that the finite verb fekksk ‘was granted’ is preceded by its subject and indirect object and hence, abnormally, is not in second position in the clause (cf. Kuhn 1983, 195). — [8] á borði Vínu ‘on the banks of the Dvina’: The Northern Dvina River, which flows into the White Sea, is mentioned elsewhere in accounts of visits to Bjarmaland (ÍF 2, 93; ÍF 27, 229).


  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. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1983. Das Dróttkvætt. Heidelberg: Winter.
  7. ÍF 2 = Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar. Ed. Sigurður Nordal. 1933.
  8. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  9. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  10. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  11. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  12. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  13. Koht, Halvdan. 1930-3. ‘Gråfelden i norsk historie’. HT(N) 29, 19-36.
  14. Ross, Alan S. C. 1981. The Terfinnas and Beormas of Ohthere. Rev. Michael Chesnutt. London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  15. Bugge, Alexander. 1910-12. Norges Historie. I.1 Tidsrummet indtil ca. 800. I.2 Tidsrummet indtil ca. 800-1030. Vol. I of Norges historie fremstillet for det norske folk, ed. A. Bugge et al. 1909-17. 6 vols (2 parts each). Kristiania (Oslo): Aschehoug.
  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 (HGráfII)
  19. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 13’ 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, p. 223.
  20. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál 7’ 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. 182.
  21. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 41 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Lausavísur 9)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 854.

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