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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Liðs 2I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Liðsmannaflokkr 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. 1018.

Anonymous PoemsLiðsmannaflokkr
123

Margr ferr Ullr í illan
oddsennu dag þenna
frár, þars fœddir órum,
fornan serk, ok bornir.
Enn á enskra manna
ǫlum gjóð Hnikars blóði;
vart mun skald í skyrtu
skreiðask hamri samða.

{Margr frár Ullr {oddsennu}} ferr þenna dag í illan fornan serk, þars órum fœddir ok bornir. Enn ǫlum {gjóð Hnikars} á blóði enskra manna; skald mun vart skreiðask í skyrtu samða hamri.

{Many a fierce Ullr <god> {of the point-quarrel}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR] gets this day into the foul old shirt in which we were born and brought up [lit. brought up and born]. Once again let us nourish {the osprey of Hnikarr <= Óðinn>} [RAVEN] on the blood of English men; the skald will scarcely creep into a shirt put together by the hammer.

Mss: Flat(186vb) (Flat); DG8(73r) (ÓHLeg); JÓ(24), 20dˣ(9v), 873ˣ(11v), 41ˣ(9r) (Knýtl)

Readings: [1] Margr: marg 20dˣ;    illan: allan DG8    [2] odd‑: ‘od’ JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 41ˣ;    ‑sennu: so all others, ‘senni’ Flat    [3] frár: so JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 41ˣ, freyr Flat, frétt DG8;    þars (‘þar er’): þar JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 41ˣ    [4] ok: um JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 41ˣ    [6] ǫlum: so all others, ‘aulun’ Flat;    gjóð: so all others, gjóðs Flat;    Hnikars: ‘hikars’ 20dˣ    [7] vart: ‘ært’ JÓ, ‘ørt’ 20dˣ, ‘ort’ 873ˣ, 41ˣ;    skald: skjald 41ˣ    [8] skreiðask: ‘skædaz’ JÓ, ‘skødaz’ 20dˣ, 873ˣ, ‘skódast’ 41ˣ;    samða: so DG8, seiða Flat, ‘sæda’ JÓ, ‘søda’ 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 41ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 422, Skj BI, 391, Skald I, 194; Flat 1860-8, III, 238, ÓH 1941, II, 684; ÓHLeg 1922, 11, ÓHLeg 1982, 48-9; Knýtl 1919-25, 46, ÍF 35, 116-17 (ch. 14).

Context: In ÓHLeg and Flat, as for st. 1. In Knýtl, st. 2 is cited after sts 9/1-4 and 8/5-8 (see Context). After the stanza it is remarked that Knútr fought many battles in London but failed to capture it.

Notes: [All]: Both helmingar contain statements that the skald and his comrades either did or did not put on armour, depending on the interpretation chosen. — [1, 3, 4] illan fornan serk, þars órum fœddir ok bornir ‘foul old shirt in which we were born and brought up [lit. brought up and born]’: (a) An obvious interpretation would be that illan fornan serk ‘foul old shirt’ refers to a rusty mail-shirt (cf. st. 7/6 and Note for a reference to armour), and that the þars-clause means ‘where…’ and indicates that the attackers are on native soil, not in England, but this view of þar is problematic in view of the statement in st. 1 that they are in England, unless the reference were to Anglo-Scandinavian warriors born in England. The alternative assumption is made here, that þars means ‘in which’, perhaps producing an exaggerated claim that the men have been warriors since birth, so that armour is like a skin to them. (b) The sense might instead be that the warriors are fighting with no armour except their own skin, which is then the ‘shirt’ in which they were ‘born and bred’ (cf. Note to ll. 7-8 below). This could allude to the tradition of berserks who literally fought in their own skin (see Þhorn Harkv 8/5 and Note), but again in an exaggerated fashion, meaning that these warriors wore ordinary clothes rather than armour. (c) Holtsmark (1954, 107; cf. ÍF 35) has argued that the serk(r) ‘shirt’ is to be identified with the caul or amnion, traditionally linked in Scandinavia and England with luck and invulnerability in battle. However, the subject is qualified by margr ‘many’, whereas to be born with a caul is exceptional. — [7] vart ‘scarcely’: (a) The reading vart has support in both the Óláfr and the Knútr traditions. If the translation of ll. 7-8 above is correct, with vart as the adv. ‘scarcely’, the lines mean that the men fight without armour, and hence support interpretation (b) in the Note to ll. 1, 3, 4. (b) Alternatively, vart skald could be read as ‘the cautious skald’ who does put on armour. (c) Skj B, Skald and ÍF 35 print ǫrt ‘bold’ but this variant is restricted to two or possibly three Knýtl mss and could be explained as a scribal emendation. — [8] skreiðask ‘creep’: Scholars have suggested that underlying this word may be an Anglo-Saxonism that confused the copyists. Guðbrandur Vigfússon (CPB II, 107 n.) tentatively restored skrýðaz and Hofmann (1955, 64-70, apparently independently) refined this to *skréðask ‘clothe, adorn oneself’ representing a conjectured OE dialectal *scrēdan for West Saxon scrȳdan ‘to issue with clothing’. The normal OWN adaptation of OE scrȳdan is skrýða. The related ON skrúð ‘ornament, equipment’ is also thought to be a loan word from OE (AEW: skrúð). ODan. *skréðask could have been ‘restored’ to a diphthongised form skreiðask by OWN speakers (cf. Brøndum-Nielsen 1928, 315-16) under the influence of the verb skreiðask ‘to slide, creep’ (Poole 1987, 284). — [8] samða ‘put together’: This reading, f. acc. sg. p. p. of semja, may represent a scribal emendation of original séða ‘sewn’, suggested by variants ‘seida’, ‘sæda’ and ‘søda’ (Hofmann 1955, 64-70).

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. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  5. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. ÓHLeg 1982 = Heinrichs, Anne et al., eds and trans. 1982. Olafs saga hins helga: Die ‘Legendarische Saga’ über Olaf den Heiligen (Hs. Delagard. saml. nr. 8II). Heidelberg: Winter.
  9. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  10. Hofmann, Dietrich. 1955. Nordisch-englische Lehnbeziehungen der Wikingerzeit. BA 14. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  11. Poole, Russell. 1987. ‘Skaldic Verse and Anglo-Saxon History: Some Aspects of the Period 1009-1016’. Speculum 62, 265-98.
  12. ÓHLeg 1922 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert, ed. 1922. Olafs saga hins helga efter pergamenthåndskrift i Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, Delagardieske samling nr. 8II. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 47. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  13. Knýtl 1919-25 = Petersens, Carl af and Emil Olsen, eds. 1919-25. Sǫgur danakonunga. 1: Sǫgubrot af fornkonungum. 2: Knýtlinga saga. SUGNL 66. Copenhagen: SUGNL.
  14. Holtsmark, Anne. 1954. ‘Olav den Hellige og “Seierskjorten”’. MM, 104-8.
  15. Brøndum-Nielsen, Johannes. 1928. Gammeldansk grammatik i sproghistorisk fremstilling. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag.
  16. Internal references
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 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. 102.
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