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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Lausavísur (Anon)

I. 3. Lausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla (ÓTHkr) - 1

not in Skj

2.2: Lausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla — Anon (ÓTHkr)I

Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Lausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla’ 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. 1073.


SkP info: I, 1073

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Anon (ÓTHkr) 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla 1’ 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. 1073.

Þás sparn á mó Maurnis
morðkunnr Haraldr sunnan,
vas þá Vinða myrðir
vax eitt, í ham faxa;
en bergsalar Birgir
bǫndum rækr í landi
— þat sá ǫld — í jǫldu
óríkr fyrir líki.

Þás morðkunnr Haraldr sparn á {mó Maurnis} sunnan í ham faxa, vas {myrðir Vinða} þá vax eitt, en óríkr Birgir, rækr {bǫndum bergsalar} í landi, fyrir í líki jǫldu; ǫld sá þat.

When the battle-famed Haraldr kicked against {the heath of Maurnir} [?] from the south in the form of a stallion, {the killer of the Wends} [DANISH KING = Haraldr] was then nothing but wax; and the powerless Birgir, deserving to be driven out by {the deities of the rock-hall} [GIANTS] in the land, [was] in front in the shape of a mare; people saw that.

Mss: (153v-154r), F(25vb), J1ˣ(91v-92r) (Hkr); 291(12v) (Jvs)

Readings: [1] sparn á Maurnis: ‘mórn ámo mꜹ́rnis’ F, ‘sparn amo mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘sparnama mꜹrnar’ 291    [2] morðkunnr: ‘marghunnr’ J1ˣ, morðkunn 291    [3] vas þá (‘var þa’): so J1ˣ, 291, varð þá Kˣ, varðat F;    Vinða: ‘vanþa’ J1ˣ;    myrðir: myrði 291    [4] faxa: faxi F    [5] berg‑: ber‑ 291;    ‑salar: salr J1ˣ, ‑stofu 291    [6] rækr: rekr 291    [7] þat: so F, J1ˣ, 291, ‘þa⸜t⸝’ Kˣ;    ǫld í jǫldu: ǫld í ǫldu F, ǫldu J1ˣ, ǫld jǫldu 291    [8] óríkr: ‘vrik[...]’ 291;    líki: so F, J1ˣ, 291, ríki Kˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [X], I. A. [3]. Et niddigt om kong Harald blåtand: AI, 176, BI, 166, Skald I, 89, NN §§526, 1092; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 316, IV, 86, ÍF 26, 270-1, Hkr 1991, I, 181-2 (ÓTHkr ch. 33), F 1871, 117; Jvs 1882, 36.

Context: In Hkr, the Icelanders have passed a law that each person should compose a níðvísa against the Danish king Haraldr Gormsson after an Icelandic vessel shipwrecked in Denmark has been seized under supervision of the king’s steward Birgir. Haraldr, having ravaged parts of Norway, plans to turn his fleet against Iceland to avenge the níð composed against him and his steward. Following the quotation comes the famous episode of the landvættir/landvéttir ‘guardian spirits of the land’, in which a sorcerer sent by Haraldr to reconnoitre Iceland in the shape of a whale is repelled from the shores by fabulous beings. The Danish invasion is called off as a consequence. Jvs refers more briefly to the níð and lacks the landvættir episode.

Notes: [1] mó Maurnis ‘the heath of Maurnir [?]’: This is a tantalizing phrase, in which Maurnis (‘mꜹrnis’ Kˣ, F, ‘mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘mꜹrnar’ 291) is elusive and could be acc. sg. either of mór m. ‘heath, moor’ or of the horse-name Mór m. (LP: 2. Mór). (a) Given the general context of níð and the sexual insult in ll. 5-8, the most credible explanation is ‘mare’s rump’ (merarlend), suggested by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26). He assumes a connection with Mǫrnir/Maurnir, who is invoked in Anon (Vǫlsa) 4-12 in the formula þiggi Maurnir þetta blæti ‘may Maurnir receive this offering’, as the horse phallus Vǫlsi is passed round. Maurnir therefore seems in Vǫlsa to be a deity, probably phallic (see further Note to Anon Vǫls 4/5). Bjarni also cites the opinion of Olsen (1917, II, 656) that mǫrnir is a (horse-)phallus. The use of topographical terms (here mór ‘heath’) to refer to the female genitals is paralleled: see Clunies Ross (1973b, 85, n. 32). (b) Emendation to Mǫrnar or Marnar (f. gen. sg.) ‘of Mǫrn’ was proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 11, 35-6) and adopted by Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson (Nj 1875-8, II, 228-9) and Skj B. Mǫrn is a river-name, for which identification with the Marne has been suggested (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: Mǫrn), and it would provide a reference to water, forming a ship-kenning with mó(r) ‘steed’. This would work well in context, yet the mss agree on a root vowel spelt <ꜹ>, not <a>, and corruption of so natural a kenning would be hard to explain. Further, the sense of sparn would need to be ‘travelled’, though it normally means ‘kick, press hard with the feet’ (see Fritzner: sperna). (c) Kock (NN §526) largely agrees with (b), but takes as m. acc. sg. ‘heath, moor’, hence ‘heath of the water’, presumably ‘sea’. — [2, 3] morðkunnr; myrðir Vinða ‘battle-famed; the killer of the Wends [DANISH KING = Haraldr]’: The praise may be ironic, jibing at the Danes’ failure to overcome the Wends (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Almqvist 1965-74, I, 182-4). — [3] vas ‘was’: Although varð ‘became’ in yields slightly better sense, and provides the missing hending in l. 3, vas has stronger ms. support. The later form var, with rhotacism, would also provide the hending, and this may point to a later date for the stanza (see Introduction). — [4] vax eitt ‘nothing but wax’: Lit. ‘wax only’. The sense could be that Haraldr was pliant – spineless and feeble, but more likely is a sexual reference, to ejaculation or flaccidity after ejaculation. — [5, 6] bǫndum bergsalar ‘the deities of the rock-hall [GIANTS]’: These may be equated with the landvættir (see Context). Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901, IV suggested that bergsalar meant ‘sky’. Kock (NN §1092) reads bergsalar with í landi ‘in the land’ rather than with bǫndum ‘deities’, suggesting that bergsalar land is Norway, from where the gods chase Birgir across the sea north of Denmark (mó Marnar in his interpretation, cf. Note to l. 1 Maurnis). — [7, 8] fyrir í líki jǫldu ‘in front in the shape of a mare’: A verb is understood in this clause, probably a repetition of l. 3 vas ‘was’.

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