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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ólhelg Lv 2I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Óláfr inn helgi Haraldsson, 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. 518.

Óláfr inn helgi HaraldssonLausavísur
123

Bǫls, þats lind í landi
landrifs fyr ver handan
golli merkð við galla
grjótǫlnis skal fǫlna.
Þann myndak við vilja
valklifs, meðan lifðak,
— alin erumk bjǫrk at bǫlvi
bands — algrœnan standa.

Bǫls, þats {lind {landrifs}}, merkð golli, skal fǫlna í landi fyr handan ver við {galla {grjótǫlnis}}. Myndak vilja {þann við {valklifs}} standa algrœnan, meðan lifðak; {bjǫrk bands} erumk alin at bǫlvi.

It is a misery that {the linden-tree {of the land-rib}} [STONE (steinn ‘jewel’) > WOMAN = Steinvǫr], distinguished with gold, must grow pale in a land across the sea with {the affliction {of the stone-mackerel}} [SNAKE > WINTER]. I would wish {that tree {of the falcon-cliff}} [ARM > WOMAN] to stand fully green as long as I lived; {the birch of the headband} [WOMAN] is born to bring me misery.

Mss: Flat(186vb), Bb(128rb) (ÓH); papp10ˣ(48rb), 743ˣ(88v) (LaufE, ll. 5-8)

Readings: [3] merkð við: með Bb;    galla: galli Bb    [4] ‑ǫlnis: ‘olna’ Bb    [7] alin erumk: almkrok Bb, alin eru papp10ˣ, 743ˣ    [8] bands: bannar Bb, brands papp10ˣ, 743ˣ;    ‑grœnan: ‘‑granann’ Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 220-1, Skj BI, 210-11, Skald I, 110, NN §§595, 2773A; Fms 5, 226-7, Fms 12, 111, ÓH 1941, II, 683, 695, Flat 1860-8, III, 237; LaufE 1979, 293, 376.

Context: In Flat, Óláfr meets some Norwegian merchants in England. He enquires after a woman called Steinvǫr who was said to have been his girlfriend. The merchants report that she is now married to Þorvarðr galli ‘Flaw’, a farmer living north of Staðr (Stad) in Norway. King Óláfr speaks the stanza, and he and the merchants part company. The account in Bb agrees, except that the newly married couple are named Steinunn and Þorvaldr (galli). In LaufE, ll. 5-8 are cited to illustrate the use of masculine-gender tree-names in kennings for ‘woman’. 

Notes: [All]: The kenning elements in the stanza are capable of more than one analysis, and l. 3 galli is a particular difficulty (see Notes below to ll. 1, 2; 3, 4; 5, 6). A related question is whether the Steinvǫr and Þorvarðr galli of the prose contexts to Lv 2 and 4 are historical and referred to in the stanza or whether they are later, fictitious figures extrapolated from the stanza. A girl named Steinvǫr is also mentioned (in the ofljóst form Grjótvǫr) and located north of Staðr (Stad) in Anon Liðs 9, a stanza associated with Óláfr in ÓHLeg and Flat; but she does not figure elsewhere in Óláfr narratives and may be a mere stereotypical ‘girl back home’. The name in Stein- may be prompted at least in part by the association of women with stones in the Óláfr stanzas (see Notes to ll. 1, 2 and 3, 4). Similarly, Þorvarðr/Þorvaldr galli is not recorded elsewhere and his existence may be inferred from galli ‘affliction’ in the stanza (see Note to ll. 3, 4 below). — [1, 2] lind landrifs ‘the linden-tree of the land-rib [STONE (steinn ‘jewel’) > WOMAN = Steinvǫr]’: The kenning assumed here (as by Kock in NN §595) has many parallels, using either the word steinn ‘stone’ or other terms for ‘stone’ (Meissner 414-15), including (Lofn) landrifs in Bjarni Frag 5/3III. Such kennings appear to work by ofljóst, since ON steinn can also mean a jewel, gem-stone or stone in a necklace (LP: steinn 2), and terms for jewels are common as determinants of woman-kennings. Meanwhile, the idea of ‘stone’ in landrifs ‘land-rib’ is continued by the word grjót- ‘stone’ in l. 4, and cf. Note to Lv 4/7. For Finnur Jónsson’s analysis of the kenning, see Note to ll. 3, 4. — [1] í landi ‘in a land’: The idea of the beloved now being in another man’s land is emphasised by the echo in landrifs (l. 2), and cf. Note to Lv 8/7-8. — [3-4] við galla grjótǫlnis ‘with the affliction of the stone-mackerel [SNAKE > WINTER]’: (a) This interpretation follows Kock (NN §595) in taking galli as a common noun. Kennings representing winter as the harm or misery of snakes are common, and Meissner 109 cites two (though not this) with galli as their base-word; its sense in these kennings is ‘affliction, harm’ rather than the more usual ‘fault, flaw’. (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B treated galla as a reference to the woman’s husband and arranged the words of ll. 1-4 as follows: Bǫl’s þats grjótǫlnis landrifs lind … skal fǫlna … við Galla ‘It is a misfortune that the woman … must grow pale … with Galli’. He took grjótǫlnir ‘stone-mackerel’ to denote ‘snake’, the landrif ‘land-rib [STONE]’ of the snake as ‘gold’, and the lind ‘lime-tree’ of gold as ‘woman’ (LP: grjótǫlnir). However, as seen in the Note to ll. 1-2, the woman-kenning lind landrifs is already complete, and although numerous kennings represent gold as the resting-place of serpents or dragons, base-words meaning ‘stone, rock’ are all but unparalleled (cf. Meissner 237-9). (c) Finally, it is possible that galli is a pun: part of the kenning assumed under (a), but also alluding to a man named Galli (cf. NN §2773A). — [5]: The line closely resembles Bbreið Lv 1/1V (Eb 24). — [5, 6] við valklifs ‘tree of the falcon-cliff [ARM > WOMAN]’: (a) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B combined the words bjǫrk bands valklifs so as to obtain a woman-kenning ‘birch of the band of the arm’, leaving við ‘tree’ as a half-kenning or uncorrected metaphor for ‘woman’ (presumably discounting the commentary in LaufE). But band ‘(head-)band’ is a standard determinant in woman-kennings in its own right (Meissner 416) without need for the extra determinant valklifs. (b) Kock’s simpler construction (NN §595) is therefore followed here, with valklifs ‘falcon-cliff [ARM]’ defining við ‘tree’ and bands ‘head-band’ defining bjǫrk ‘birch’. As to the first of these kennings, the determinant ‘arm’ or ‘hand’ occurs frequently (Meissner 420) but the base-word við(r) is exceptional. As noted in LaufE (see Context above, and cf. SnE 1998, I, 40), the norm is for m. tree names to serve as base-words in kennings for men and f. ones in kennings for women (for a clear exception see Anon (LaufE) 1/4III). Viðr valklifs is thus one of three women-kennings in the stanza with tree-heiti as base-words (cf. lind ‘linden-tree’ l. 1, bjǫrk ‘birch’ l. 7), and participates in the dominant idea of the pity that the flourishing (algrœnan ‘fully green’, l. 8) girl may grow pale (fǫlna, l. 4) in winter (with another man?). — [7] erumk alin at bǫlvi ‘is born to bring me misery’: Lit. ‘is born as a misery to me’. Cf. GunnlI Lv 12/1, 4V (Gunnl 19) Alin vas rýgr at rógi bǫrnum fira ‘the woman was born to [cause] strife among the sons of men’; cf. also Mgóð Lv 2/1-2II .

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. 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. LaufE 1979 = Faulkes, Anthony, ed. 1979. Edda Magnúsar Ólafssonar (Laufás Edda). RSÁM 13. Vol. I of Two Versions of Snorra Edda from the 17th Century. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar, 1977-9.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  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. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  11. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  12. Internal references
  13. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Legendary Saga of S. Óláfr / Helgisaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar (ÓHLeg)’ 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. clxxiii.
  14. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ 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, pp. clxi-clxii.
  15. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Liðsmannaflokkr 9’ 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. 1027.
  16. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from Laufás Edda 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 637.
  17. Not published: do not cite (Bbreiðv Lv 1V (Eb 24))
  18. Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Bjarni ...ason, Fragments 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. 25.
  19. Not published: do not cite (GunnlI Lv 12V (Gunnl 19))
  20. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Magnús inn góði Óláfsson, 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. 6-7.
  21. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Laufás Edda (LaufE)’ 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].
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