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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ólhelg Lv 6I/5 — Umstilli ‘The machinations’

Lítt mun herr enn hætta
— hrafn sleit af ná beitu —
— vér unnum gný Gunnar —
glaðr í nótt á Jaðri.
Umstilli hefr illa
(ættgóðr) of rof sætta
(Erlingr beið til árla
andrán) getit hônum.

Lítt mun herr enn hætta, glaðr í nótt á Jaðri; hrafn sleit beitu af ná; vér unnum gný Gunnar. Umstilli of rof sætta hefr getit hônum illa; ættgóðr Erlingr beið andrán til árla.

Little will the army again take respite, glad tonight in Jæren; the raven tore its meal from the corpse; we made the clamour of Gunnr <valkyrie> [BATTLE]. The machinations over the breach of settlements have brought him a bad outcome; Erlingr, of good kindred, was robbed of life too soon.


[5] Umstilli: so 325VII, verstilli Holm4, verstillir 61, 75c, Bb, Flat, Tóm, 325XI 2 b, verstillis 325V


[5] umstilli ‘the machinations’: This reading is poorly supported but the majority reading, verstilli-, is impossible because of the failure in alliteration. The error ver for um could have arisen from the interchangeability of <u> and <v> and a misreading of an abbreviation for <m>. Likewise, stillir for stilli could have arisen from scribal expectations that the common agentive class of noun in -ir was intended here. The ‘machinations’ of Erlingr and others of Knútr’s agents were stigmatised by advocates for Óláfr (e.g. Sigv Lv 13-15; cf. Fidjestøl 1975; Jesch 2001a, 262-3). Alternatively, it is possible that all the variant readings derive from some unknown word; Fidjestøl (1982, 68) suggests ýstillir ‘bow-user [WARRIOR]’.



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