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Anonymous Lausavísur (Anon)

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

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 21 January 2022)

stanzas:  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, né þá flœðim.

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

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.

Mss: 61(53vb), 53(50vb), 54(43vb), Bb(79va), 62(43ra-b), Flat(52va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] errinn: œrinn 62    [2] ormr: orm 53, orms 54, Bb;    brunar: ‘brun’ 53, 54, Bb;    at: á 53, 54;    nǫkkva: nǫkkvi Flat    [3] hyggju: hrygginn 54, hryggum Bb, hygginn Flat;    stóra: stjóra Bb, 62, Flat    [4] vinnur: vinnr 62, vinnir Flat    [5] hárir: ‘hęrir’ Bb, ‘harrar’ 62, ‘harar’ Flat    [6] Harð‑: her‑ 62    [7] brim: ‘brun’ Bb, Flat;    blíkir: bleikir all others

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.

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: [1] stendr of fjarri ‘stands too far off’: Cf. Hfr ErfÓl 25/2. Of fjarri could be taken as either one word or two (cf. LP: offjarri, indicating doubt). — [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. — [2] ormr ‘serpent’: Like snákr ‘snake’ in l. 7, this refers to Óláfr’s ship, perhaps specifically to the famous Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’, though if so ÓT cites the present stanza out of chronological sequence in ch. 212, as the Long Serpent is not built until ch. 223. These words meaning ‘snake’ may alternatively be ship-heiti, as, e.g., in ÞjóðA Har 1/4, 5II. On Ormr and poetic references to it, see Notes to Hfr ErfÓl 10/1, Hókr Eirfl 3/4. — [3] hôr ‘tall’: The syntactic parallelism between the two helmingar suggests this adj. should be construed with hlýri ‘brother’ in the main clause. It could alternatively be taken as qualifying ormr ‘serpent’ (i.e. ‘ship’), as in Skj B (rejected in NN §1963). — [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). — [6] Harðráðs ‘of Harðráðr’: Attested elsewhere both as a nickname meaning ‘Hard-rule’, most famously of King Haraldr Sigurðarson, r. 1045-66, and as a proper name (Unger 1877, I, 661, though it is Latinized as Harderadus and the context is a translation of the vita of S. Maurus). Previous eds, with the exception of Fms, prefer 62’s Herráðs ‘of Herráðr’, but there is no reason to discard the majority reading. It is uncertain whether Harðráðr is a man or a giant, but the name resembles the giant-names Harðgreipr (Þul Jǫtna II 1/7III) and Harðverkr (Þul Jǫtna I 2/1III), and other circumstances might indicate a giant (see Introduction). — [7] blíkir ‘glistens’: Rhyme and metre require this otherwise unattested weak form, cf. the strong verb blíkja ‘gleam, glisten’. LP: 2. blíkja assumes a weak verb and takes this as an impersonal usage. The majority reading bleikir is also metrically suitable, and could be from adj. bleikr ‘pale’ or verb bleikja ‘to bleach’, but neither fits the context. — [8] tveir brœðr ‘two brothers’: The present edn agrees with Kock (Skald; NN §§1964, 2247B) in taking this in apposition to synir báðir ‘both sons’ in l. 6 as the joint subject of værim ‘were’ in l. 5. Skj B on the other hand takes it with flœðim ‘we would not have fled’. — [8] þá ‘then’: This could equally well be the m. acc. pl. pron. þá ‘them’, referring to Óláfr and his men.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated