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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 14I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 14’ 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. 420.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonErfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar
131415

Mundit lung it langa
(læsíks) und gram ríkum
(blóð kom á þrǫm þíðan)
þjóð varliga hrjóða,
meðan ítr*vini Áta
innanborðs at morði
— sú gerðisk vel — varði
verðung jǫfurs sverðum.

Þjóð mundit varliga hrjóða it langa lung und ríkum gram — blóð kom á þíðan þrǫm {læsíks} —, meðan verðung jǫfurs varði {ítr*vini Áta} sverðum at morði innanborðs; sú gerðisk vel.

The troop would hardly have cleared the long vessel under the mighty ruler — blood spurted onto the pliant rail {of the poison-whitefish} [SNAKE = Ormr inn langi] —, while the retinue of the prince defended {the glorious friends of Áti <sea-king>} [SEAFARERS] with swords in the battle on board; they performed worthily.

Mss: 61(68ra), 54(65rb), Bb(101ra), Flat(65ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Mundit: mundut 54, Bb, mundi Flat;    lung: lund Bb    [3] þrǫm: þrum 54, Bb    [5] ítr*: ítrs all;    vini: vina all;    Áta: so 54, ‘átu’ 61, ‘ęta’ Bb, ‘atti’ Flat    [7] gerðisk: gerðisk at Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 162, Skj BI, 153, Skald I, 83, NN §§477, 478, 3215; SHI 2, 317-18, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 277 (ch. 252), Flat 1860-8, I, 487.

Context:

The defenders’ swords become blunted and, as Óláfr is distributing new ones, his men notice for the first time that he is wounded. Men on board Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’ fall from wounds and exhaustion, first in the forecastle and bow, and then amidships.

Notes: [1, 4] mundit varliga hrjóða ‘would hardly have cleared’: Mundit is literally negative, ‘would not’ (mundi, 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of munu ‘shall, will, may’, plus negative enclitic -t). The sense is clearly that the enemy had difficulty overcoming Ormr’s crew, so negative mundit plus adv. varliga ‘hardly’ presumably has intensifying effect. Skj B adopts Flat’s reading mundi, printing myndi (the forms are interchangeable). — [2] læsíks ‘of the poison-whitefish [SNAKE = Ormr inn langi]’: The mention of a þíðan þrǫm ‘pliant rail’ suggests that læsíks refers to a ship, probably via a pun on the name of Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’, Óláfr’s ship (cf. Naðr in st. 10/1 and Note and, via a similar kenning to the present one, fiskr lyngs ‘fish of the heather [SNAKE]’ in Sigv ErfÓl 3/1; NN §477; Ohlmarks 1958, 451). The second element, síks, denotes a whitefish of the Salmonidae family, Coregonus lavaretus. The first element can be interpreted in various ways to produce a snake-kenning. (a) The usual meanings of are ‘malice, deceit, harm, poison’ (LP: 1, 2), and ‘poison-fish’ is plausible as a snake-kenning: cf. hrøkkviáll drekku Vǫlsunga ‘coiling eel of the drink of the Vǫlsungs [POISON > Miðgarðsormr]’ Bragi Þórr 5/3,4III, or ǫlunn eitrs ‘mackerel of poison [SNAKE]’ GunnHám Lv 6/5, 7V (Nj 10). (b) There is some evidence for meaning ‘land’, which could produce a standard snake-kenning of the type ‘fish of the land’ (cf. Meissner 112-14). Hár Lv 2/2, 3 has eikr læbaugs, which could mean ‘oak of the land-ring [SEA > SHIP]’ (see LP: læbaugr, and Note to st. 10/4 above on baugr; Simek 1982, 211 has an alternative explanation), and GunnlI Lv 7/5V (Gunnl 11) has ‘lesik’ or ‘lausik’, which could give læsík(r) ‘land-whitefish [SNAKE]’. According to Gunnlaugs saga (ÍF 3, 84) Gunnlaugr and Hallfreðr were shipmates and friends, and GunnlI Lv 7 was addressed to Hallfreðr. Textual variation of and láð ‘land’ occurs in Þhorn Gldr 8/8. (c) Skj B (following Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, II, 221) emends Hallfreðr’s kenning læsíks to láðsíks ‘land-whitefish’, and Gunnlaugr’s kenning to lautsíkr ‘dale-whitefish’, but emendation seems unnecessary. As to the syntactic role of the cpd, Kock (NN §477) takes læsíks with gram, i.e. ‘Ormr’s lord’, giving a simpler word order. — [3] þíðan þrǫm ‘pliant rail’: Kock (NN §3215) suggests þíðan ‘thawed’ is used in the sense of ‘wet’ here, not ‘agile, flexible’, but his arguments lack sufficient evidence to convince (Foote 1984a, 229; Jesch 2001a, 141). — [5-8]: The helmingr is problematic. In l. 5, ms. vina (m. gen. pl.) ‘of friends’ is difficult to accommodate in the syntax, and the last word is highly variable in the mss. Gen. sg. ítrs ‘glorious’ would seem to qualify jǫfurs ‘of the prince’, but since this is a Type C-line the words occupying positions 2-4 (here ítrs vina) belong together syntactically (cf. Gade 1995a, 123-4). Further, varði ‘defended’ in l. 7 lacks a direct object. (a) Two small emendations are adopted here: of vina to vini (m. acc. pl.), giving a direct object for varði, and of ítrs to ítr, which then forms a cpd with vini, ‘glorious friends’; cf. ítrfermðum ‘splendidly laden’ in st. 17/1. The last word in l. 5 is taken here as Áta ‘of Áti’. The resulting kenning is unusual, but cf. ætt Endils ‘clan of Endill <sea-king>’, hence ‘seafaring princes’ in general, Arn Þorfdr 22/5, 6II. This interpretation is indebted to Kari Ellen Gade. (b) Skj B takes the last word in l. 5 as ôttu ‘had’ (3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. of eiga), and emends twice: vina (m. gen. pl.) ‘of friends’ to vinir (m. nom. pl.) ‘friends’ and varði (3rd pers. sg. pret. indic.) ‘defended’ to varða (inf.) ‘to defend’. Vinir is then the subject of an auxiliary and inf. construction: vinir ítrs jǫfurs ôttu varða sverðum ‘friends of the glorious prince had to defend with swords’, but this does not avoid the difficulty with ítrs jǫfurs mentioned above. — [6] at morði ‘at the battle’: Most eddic and some skaldic examples of simplex morð (often ‘murder’) are clearly pejorative (Hamð 11/6, Akv 32/4, 42/3; Sigv Erlfl 8/8, ESk Eystdr 2/1II), but this is not usually the case for the common phrase at morði (e.g. Þhorn Gldr 4/2, Glúmr Gráf 8/8). — [7] sú gerðisk vel ‘they performed worthily’: refers to the retinue (verðung f.).

References

  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. 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. Gade, Kari Ellen. 1995a. The Structure of Old Norse dróttkvætt Poetry. Islandica 49. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  8. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  9. 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.
  10. ÍF 3 = Borgfirðinga sǫgur. Ed. Sigurður Nordal and Guðni Jónsson. 1938.
  11. Foote, Peter G. 1984a. Aurvandilstá: Norse Studies. Ed. Michael Barnes, Hans Bekker-Nielsen and Gerd Wolfgang Weber. VC 2. [Odense]: Odense University Press.
  12. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  13. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  14. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  15. Ohlmarks, Åke. 1958. Tors skalder och Vite-Krists. Trosskiftestidens isländska furstelovskalder, 980-1013. Stockholm: Geber.
  16. Simek, Rudolf. 1982. Die Schiffsnamen, Schiffsbezeichnungen und Schiffskenningar im Altnordischen. Wiener Arbeiten zur germanischen Altertumskunde und Philologie 14. Vienna: Halosar.
  17. Internal references
  18. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 22’ 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. 255-6.
  19. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Þórr’s fishing 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 51.
  20. Not published: do not cite ()
  21. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Eysteinsdrápa 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. 560-1.
  22. Not published: do not cite ()
  23. Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Glúmr Geirason, Gráfeldardrápa 8’ 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. 258.
  24. Not published: do not cite (GunnlI Lv 7V (Gunnl 11))
  25. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hárekr í Þjóttu, Lausavísur 2’ 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. 810.
  26. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 3’ 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. 668.
  27. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson 8’ 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. 640.
  28. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 4’ 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. 83.
  29. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 8’ 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. 88.
  30. Not published: do not cite (GunnHám Lv 6V (Nj 10))
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