This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

Anonymous Poems (Anon)

III. Málsháttakvæði (Mhkv) - 30

not in Skj

5: Málsháttakvæði (‘Proverb poem’) — Anon MhkvIII

Roberta Frank 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Málsháttakvæði’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1213.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30 

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: A. [1]. Málsháttakvæði, Et orknøsk(?) digt, omkr. 1200. (AII, 130-6, BII, 138-45)

in texts: Flat

SkP info: III, 1213

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 þegir;
dylja má, þess er einn hverr segir;

… eitt bregzk hóti síðr.
Fœra ætlum forn orð saman;
flestir henda at nøkkvi gaman;
gleði minnar veit geipun sjá;
griplur er sem hendi þá.
… is silent; what any one person says can be denied; … only deceives somewhat less. We [I] intend to bring ancient sayings together; most people take pleasure in something; this nonsense shows my good cheer; it is then as if one gathers pickings.
2 Ekki hefk með flimtun farit;
fullvel ættak til þess varit;
yrkja kann ek vánu verr;
vita þykkisk þat maðrinn hverr.
Stolit væri mér ekki ór ætt,
jafnan þótt ek kvæða slétt;
róa verðr fyrst á it næsta nes;
nǫkkut ættak kyn til þess.
I have not gone in for lampoons; full well would I have had excuse for that; I can compose more rudely than you’d expect; every man thinks he knows it. Nothing would be stolen from my patrimony, even if I should always recite smoothly; one has to row first toward the nearest headland; I would have some pedigree for that.
3 Þjóð spyrr alt, þat er þrír menn vitu;
þeir hafa verr, er trygðum slitu;
ekki er því til eins manns skotit;
ýmsir hafa þau dœmi hlotit.
Hermðarorð munu hittask í;
heimult ák at glaupsa of því,
— nǫkkut varð hon sýsla of sik
svinneyg drós — hvé hon fór við mik.
The world learns all that three people know; those who have broken sworn pledges come off worse; that is not aimed at any one person; several have had those experiences as their lot. Angry words shall be found here; I have the right to speak mouthfuls about that – she rather had to look after herself, the wise-eyed woman – how she treated me.
4 Ró skyldu menn reiði gefa;
raunlítit kømsk opt á þrefa;
gagarr er skaptr, þvít geyja skal;
gera ætlak mér létt of tal.
Verit hafði mér verra í hug;
var þat nær sem kveisu flug;
jafnan fagnar kvikr maðr kú;
kennir hins, at gleðjumk nú.
Men should give rest to their wrath; often a very little thing occasions strife; a dog is shaped for barking; I intend to make my speech lighthearted. Something worse had been in my mind; it was almost like the pain of a boil; the living man always rejoices in a cow; it is clear that I am cheering up now.
5 Alllítit er ungs manns gaman;
einum þykkir daufligt saman;
annars barn er sem úlf at frjá;
óðfúss myndi blindr at sjá.
Dýrt láta menn dróttins orð;
drekarnir rísa opt á sporð;
ǫðlingr skyldi einkar rǫskr;
œpa kann í mœrum frǫskr.
It takes very little to amuse a young man; life seems dreary to one alone; to love another’s child is like cherishing a wolf; desperately would the blind one wish to see. People say a lord’s word is precious; dragons often rise up on their tail; a prince should be especially brave; a frog can croak in the marshes.
6 Fylki skal til frægðar hafa;
fregna eigum langt til gafa;
oddar gerva jarli megin;
útsker verða af bárum þvegin.
Ýmsir bjóða ǫðrum fár;
ormar skríða ór hamsi á vár;
vel hefr sá, er þat líða lætr;
langar eiga þeir bersi nætr.
One shall have a prince for glory; we ought to hear of a fool from far off; spears give strength to a jarl; outer skerries are washed by waves. Many offer harm to another; snakes slither from their slough in spring; he comes off well who lets it pass by; a bear and his kind have long nights.
7 Bjarki átti hugarkorn hart;
herlið feldi Stǫrkuðr mart;
ekki var hann í hvíldum hœgr;
Hrómundr þótti garpr ok slœgr.
Ókat þeim né einn á bug;
Eljárnir var trúr at hug;
fílinn gat hann í fylking sótt;
fullstrǫng hefr sú mannraun þótt.
Bjarki had a firm kernel of courage [HEART]; Starkaðr felled a great troop; he was not gentle in repose; Hrómundr seemed bold and cunning. No one made him give way; Eljárnir was loyal at heart; he conquered the elephant in the phalanx; that test of manhood seemed very tough.
8 Bana þóttusk þeir bíða vel;
Brandingi svaf loks í hel;
Mardallar var glysligr grátr;
gleðr sá mann, er opt er kátr.
Ásmundr tamði Gnóð við gjálfr;
gulli mælti Þjazi sjálfr;
Niðjungr skóf af haugi horn;
hølzti eru nú minni forn.
They determined to face death well; Brandingi at last slept to death; the weeping of Mardǫll <= Freyja> was glittering; the one who is often happy gladdens another. Ásmundr accustomed Gnóð <legendary ship> to the sea; Þjazi himself spoke in gold; Niðjungr scraped a horn from a burial mound; these are now exceedingly old stories.
9 Friggjar þótti svipr at syni;
sá var taldr ór miklu kyni;
Hermóðr vildi auka aldr;
Éljúðnir vann sólginn Baldr.
Ǫll grétu þau eptir hann;
aukit var þeim hlátrar bann;
heyrinkunn er frá hánum saga;
hvat þarf ek of slíkt at jaga.
It seemed a sudden loss concerning the son of Frigg <goddess> [= Baldr]; he was reckoned from a great family; Hermóðr wanted to extend his life; Éljúðnir <hall of Hel> had swallowed up Baldr. They all wept for him; their ban of laughter [SORROW] grew; the tale about him is very well known; why do I need to harp on it.
10 Sitt mein þykkir sárast hveim;
sáttargǫrð er ætluð tveim;
oddamaðr fæsk opt inn þriði;
jafntrúr skal sá hvárra liði.
Engi of dœmir sjálfan sik;
slíkt ætlak nú henda mik;
ýta lið þótt alt fari byrst,
engi læzk því valda fyrst.
His own pain seems the sorest to each man; it takes two to arrange terms of settlement; often an arbitrator is brought in as a third; he must be equally fair to both sides. No one passes sentence on himself; I suppose such will happen to me now; though all the troop of men go bristling, no one allows that he caused that first.
11 Stefjum verðr at stæla brag,
— stuttligt hefk á kvæði lag —
ella mun þat þykkja þula
þannig nær, sem ek henda mula.
Ekki var þat forðum farald;
Finnan gat þó œrðan Harald;
hánum þótti sólbjǫrt sú;
slíks dœmi verðr mǫrgum nú.
Poetry has to be fitted with refrains – I have an abrupt verse-form in this poem – else it will seem a rigamarole, almost as if I were grabbing at crumbs. It wasn’t a malady in the old days; still, the Saami girl drove Haraldr out of his mind; to him she seemed bright as the sun; instances of such happen to many now.
12 Skips láta menn skammar rár;
skatna þykkir hugrinn grár;
tungan leikr við tanna sár;
trauðla er gengt á ís of vár.
Mjǫk fár er sér œrinn einn;
eyvit týr, þótt skyndi seinn;
gǫfgask mætti af gengi hverr;
gǫrva þekkik, sumt hvé ferr.
Men say the ship’s sailyards are short; the heart of magnates seems grey; the tongue plays with the aching tooth; it is scarcely safe to walk on ice in spring. Very few are sufficient in themselves; it helps not at all though the slow one hastens; each man could gain stature from the company he keeps; I recognise fully how some things go.
13 Afli of deilir sízt við sjá;
Sǫrli sprakk af gildri þrá;
stundum þýtr í logni lá;
litlu verr, at ráðak fá.
Mǫrgum þykkir fullgótt fé;
frænuskammr er inn deigi lé;
kvæðit skal með kynjum alt;
konungs morginn er langr á valt.
One contends least in strength with the sea; Sǫrli burst from great longing; at times the surf resounds in a calm; it hardly matters that I prevail but little. To many a man wealth seems good enough; of short sharpness is the soft scythe; the whole poem shall be really strange; a king’s morning is always long.
14 Bráðsét láta bragnar opt;
bregðr at þeim, er heldr á lopt;
allmargr er til seinn at sefask;
svá kǫllum vér ráð, sem gefask.
Ekki var þat forðum farald;
Finnan gat þó œrðan Harald;
hánum þótti sólbjǫrt sú;
slíks dœmi verðr mǫrgum nú.
Men often let things be hastily seen; the one who aims high is transformed; very many a man is too slow to calm down; we judge counsels as they turn out. It wasn’t a malady in the old days; still, the Saami girl drove Haraldr out of his mind; to him she seemed bright as the sun; instances of such happen to many now.
15 Auðigr þykkir einn sér hvar;
annars ðir margr of far;
ørgrands erum vér lengst á leit;
lundvær þykkir bezta sveit.
Skammæ þykkja ófin ǫll;
ekki mart er verra en trǫll;
eigi spillir hyggins hjali;
hefkat ek spurt, at
A lone man seems to himself rich everywhere; many a one speaks about the conduct of another; we seek longest after the flawless; peaceable company seems the best. Everything beyond the mean seems short-lived; not much is worse than a troll; nothing spoils the talk of a wise man; I have not heard that …
16 Engi þarf at hræðask hót;
heldr kømr opt við sáran fót;
hlutgjarn ferr með annars sǫk.
Nøkkvi ríkstr er heima hverr;
†ta† ek umb at síðr;
orðin fara, þegar munninn líðr.
No one needs to fear threats; rather often does something touch a sore foot; … a busybody conducts another’s suit. At home each man is something of a king; … I … about [it] the less; words travel as soon as they leave the mouth.
17 Varla sýnisk alt, sem er,
*ýtum þeim, er bægir drer;
eigi at eins er í fǫgru fengr;
fundit mun, þat er reynt er lengr.
Ekki var þat forðum farald,
Finnan gat þó œrðan Harald,
hánum þótti sólbjǫrt sú,
slíks dœmi verðr mǫrgum nú.
All seems hardly as it is to those men afflicted by eye-disease; not only in the beautiful is there gain; that shall come to light which is inquired into the longer. It wasn’t a malady in the old days; still, the Saami girl drove Haraldr out of his mind; to him she seemed bright as the sun; instances of such happen to many now.
18 Efnum þykkir bezt at búa;
brǫgðótt reyndisk gemlu fúa;
margar kunni hon slœgðir sér;
svá nǫkkvi gafsk Rannveig mér.
Illa hefr, sá er annan sýkr;
eigi veit, áðr hefndum lýkr;
bráðfengr þykkir brullaups frami;
brigða lengi er hverr inn sami.
It seems best to live with resources; the vixen proved cunning to the year-old ewe; she knew many tricks for herself; so Rannveig somewhat showed herself to me. The one who betrays another comes off badly; the outcome is not known until vengeance ends; the glory of the wedding feast seems quickly won; exceedingly long is every man the same.
19 Lýtin þykkja skammæ skarar;
skrautligt kǫllum nafnit farar;
trautt kallak þann valda, er varar;
verða menn, þeir er uppi fjarar.
Ógipt verðr í umbúð skjót;
élin þykkja mǫrgum ljót;
engi of sér við ǫllum rokum;
jafnan spyrja menn at lokum.
A haircut’s flaws seem of short duration; we call the name of an expedition ‘glorious’; I scarcely declare the one who warns to be the cause; men there are who end up high and dry. Misfortune is quick in preparation; snowstorms seem ugly to many; no one avoids all sudden gusts; people always ask about a conclusion.
20 Ástblindir ’ró seggir svá
sumir, at þykkja mjǫk fás gá;
þannig verðr of mansǫng mælt;
marga hefr þat hyggna tælt.
Ekki var þat forðum farald;
Finnan gat þó œrðan Harald;
hánum þótti sólbjǫrt sú;
slíks dœmi verðr mǫrgum nú.
Some men are so blinded by love that they seem to heed very little; so it is said about a love-song; it has entrapped many wise men. It wasn’t a malady in the old days; still, the Saami girl drove Haraldr out of his mind; to him she seemed bright as the sun; instances of such happen to many now.
21 Yndit láta engir falt;
allopt verðr í hreggi svalt;
andaðs dr*úpa minjar mest;
magran skyldi kaupa hest.
Œrit þykkir viðkvæm vá;
vinfengin ’ró misjǫfn þá;
fasthaldr varð á Fenri lagðr;
fíkjum var mér ramligr sagðr.
None puts his love up for sale; very often it becomes cool in a storm; memories of a dead man droop the most; one should buy a lean horse. Woe seems tangible enough; friendships are unequal then; a fetter was laid on Fenrir; I was told it was hugely strong.
22 Grandvarr skyldi inn góði maðr;
Gizurr varð at rógi saðr;
etja vildi jǫfrum saman;
ekki er mér at stúru gaman.
Kunna vildak sjá við snǫrum;
sjaldan, hykk, at gyggvi vǫrum;
vel hefr hinn, er sitr of sitt;
svartflekkótt er kvæði mitt.
The good man should be circumspect; Gizurr <= Óðinn> proved true in slander; he wanted to incite kings against each other; I have no delight in gloom. I would like to be able to avoid snares; I think the wary man is seldom startled; he comes off well who tends his own; black-flecked is my poem.
23 Jafnan segir inn ríkri ráð;
rǫskvir menn gefa ǫrnum bráð;
upp at eins er ungum vegar;
engi maðr er roskinn þegar.
Falls er ván at fornu tré;
fleira þykkir gótt, en sé;
auðsénna er annars vamm;
engi kømsk of skapadœgr framm.
The more powerful always offers advice; valiant men give raw meat to eagles; only up is the young man’s path; no person is at once fully grown. There is expectation of a fall from an old tree; more seems good than may be; the blemish of another is more easily seen; no one goes beyond his fated day.
24 Engi knettr of annars mein;
aldri lætk at munni sein;
heimi, heyrik sagt, at snúi;
sumir einir, hykk, at mér trúi.
Erfitt verðr, þeim er illa kann;
engan þarf at hjúfra mann;
þannig hefr mér lagzk í lund:
langviðrum skal eyða grund.
No one bemoans another’s misfortune; I never rein in my mouth; I hear tell that the world is turning; I think only some believe me. Life is difficult for him who understands poorly; one need not lament any man; thus it has lodged itself in my mind: with long-lasting storms shall the earth be laid waste.
25 Sjaldan hittisk feigs vǫk frørin;
fljóðin verða at ǫldrum kørin;
lengi hefr þat lýst fyr mér:
lítinn kost á margr und sér.
Sagt er frá, hvé neflauss narir;
nú verðr sumt, þat er mangi varir;
væri betr, at þegðak þoks;
þat hefr hverr, er verðr er, loks.
Seldom is a doomed man’s ice-hole found frozen; women are chosen at drinking parties; that has long been clear to me: many a one has little in his power. It is related how a noseless person languishes; now comes something that no one expects; it would be far better that I should be silent; each gets what he deserves in the end.
26 Þrýtra þann, er verr hefr, valt;
verða kann á ýmsa halt;
misjafnir ’ró blinds manns bitar;
bǫlit kǫllum vér ilt til litar.
Eik hefr þat, er af ǫðrum skefr;
ekki mart er slœgra en refr;
jafnan verðr, at áflóð stakar;
auðfengnar ’ró gelti sakar.
He who has the worse case never withdraws; first one, then another, gets the short stick; unequal are the mouthfuls of a blind man; we declare grief bad for the complexion. An oak has what is scraped from others; not much is slyer than a fox; it always happens that a torrent causes upheavals; easily brought are charges against a hog.
27 Gullormr á sér brennheitt ból;
bjartast skínn í heiði sól;
undrum þykkir gagnsætt gler;
glymjandi fellr hrǫnn of sker.
Allar girnask ár í sjá;
ekki er manni verra en þrá;
fýsa munk ins fyrra vara;
flestr mun sik til nǫkkurs spara.
The gold-serpent has for itself a burning-hot den; the sun shines brightest in a cloudless sky; glass seems wondrously transparent; the wave falls roaring over the skerry. All rivers yearn to run to the sea; nothing is worse for a man than longing; I shall urge prior caution; most men will save themselves for something.
28 Geta má þess, er gengit hefr;
gerir sá betr, er annan svefr;
veitkat víst, hvat verða kann;
villa er dælst of heimskan mann.
Fláráðum má trautt of trúa;
til sín skyldi inu betra snúa;
hugga skal, þann er harm hefr beðit;
hølzti mjǫk er at flestu kveðit.
What has passed can be related; he does better who soothes another; I know not for certain what can happen; it is easiest to lead astray a foolish man. One can scarcely trust the deceitful; one should turn what is better toward oneself; one must console him who has suffered sorrow; exceedingly much is decreed about most.
29 Orða er leitat mér í munn;
mælgin verðr oss heyrinkunn;
Yggjar bjór hverr eiga myni,
ósýnt þykkir lýða kyni.
Eyvit mun sjá atfrétt stoða;
allmjǫk erum vér lynd til hroða;
þeygi var sjá aflausn ill;
eiga skal nú hverr, er vill.
They seek in my mouth for words; the chatter is well known to us [me]; who might possess the strong drink of Yggr <= Óðinn> [POETRY] seems unclear to the race of men [HUMANS]. That inquiry will not at all help; we are very much inclined to coarseness; this release was not at all bad; now anyone who wants it shall have it.
30 Stjórnlausu hefk slungit saman,
svá vildak …
I have thrown together something rudderless, thus I wished …
© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.