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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Lausavísur (Anon)

I. 5. Lausavísur from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT) - 3

not in Skj

2.2: Lausavísur from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta — Anon (ÓT)I

Kate Heslop and Diana Whaley 2012, ‘ Anonymous, Lausavísur from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta’ 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. 1082. <> (accessed 6 December 2021)

 1   2   3 

SkP info: I, 1084

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Anon (ÓT) 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta 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. 1084.

These two stanzas (Anon (ÓT) 2-3) are preserved only in ÓT ch. 212 (ÓT 1958-2000, II, 133-4), transmitted in 61, 53, 54, 62, Bb and Flat. The saga attributes them to an anonymous old man in a boat (nǫkkvi, hence nǫkkvamaðr ‘man in a boat’ in ÓT, and in Skj) whom Óláfr Tryggvason and his men encounter while on a missionary voyage in southern Norway. The nǫkkvamaðr speaks his stanzas in the course of a conversation with the king, at the end of which he capsizes his boat and disappears into the sea. The anecdote is typical of those in which the missionary king encounters and bests a representative of the pagan religion, usually Óðinn or Þórr. The nǫkkvamaðr lacks obvious divine attributes, but it is possible that he is a giant. Indications of this are the saga’s references to his superhuman size and strength; his calling himself the son of Harðráðr (see Note to Lv 2/6); and the fact that he rows for the cliffs when confronted by Óláfr (see Perkins 1999 on the association of supernatural beings with prominent landmarks on the Norwegian coast). Finnur Jónsson (LH I, 466) took the stanzas as authentic, dating them c. 998, but there is no sure internal evidence either way. Lv 2-3 are edited here by Kate Heslop.

Of fjarri stendr errinn
— ormr brunar døkkr at nǫkkva —
hôr með hyggju stóra
hlýri minn ok vinnur.
Ef værim hér hárir
Harðráðs synir báðir
— snákr skríðr, þars brim blíkir —
brœðr tveir, þá flœðim.


My tall, bold brother, with [his] great mind and achievements, stands too far off; the dark serpent rushes towards the boat. If we had been here, both the grey-haired sons of Harðráðr, two brothers, we would not have fled then; the snake glides where the surf glistens.

context: (See Introduction above.) The wild-eyed nǫkkvamaðr ‘man in a boat’ rows away with superhuman speed toward some cliffs; with great effort King Óláfr and his men close the distance. The king addresses the nǫkkvamaðr and he replies in prose and then verse.

notes: [2] døkkr : nǫkkva: The aðalhending is inexact if the two vowels have their etymological value. It is possible that the two sounds would have been sufficiently close for the rhyme to be acceptable if the stanza dates not from the C10th but from the C13th or later (cf. Note to SnSt Ht 73/2III), but definite conclusions cannot be built on this point. — [5-8]: The conditional ef-clause precedes the main clause flœðim þá ‘we would not have fled then’. This situation is the most common exception to the normal ordering of skaldic helmingar, with main clause first (Kuhn 1983, 190-1).

texts: Flat 294, ÓT 128

editions: Skj Anonyme digte og vers [X]: I. B. 10. En nordmand, nǫkkvamaðr a (AI, 179-80; BI, 169); Skald I, 91, NN §§1963, 1964, 2247B; Fms 2, 181, Fms 12, 51, SHI 2, 167-8, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 133 (ch. 212), Flat 1860-8, I, 396.


AM 61 fol (61) 53vb, 29 - 53vb, 31 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 53 fol (53) 50vb, 26 - 50vb, 31 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  
AM 54 fol (54) 43vb, 29 - 43vb, 32 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb) 79va, 23 - 79va, 28 (ÓT)  image  
AM 62 fol (62) 43ra, 39 - 43rb, 2 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  image  
GKS 1005 fol (Flat) 52va, 22 - 52va, 25 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  image  image  
AM 761 b 4°x (761bx) 502r, 2 - 502r, 9  transcr.  image  
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