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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Lausavísur (Anon)

III. 3. Stanzas from Snorra Edda (SnE) - 18

not in Skj

2.1: Stanzas from Snorra Edda — Anon (SnE)III

Kari Ellen Gade, Margaret Clunies Ross and Matthew Townend 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Stanzas from Snorra Edda’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 512. <> (accessed 26 September 2021)

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SkP info: III, 519

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — Anon (SnE) 9III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from Snorra Edda 9’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 519.

SnE records two stanzas of an exchange between a troll-woman and the poet Bragi (Anon (SnE) 9; Bragi Troll) in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 83-4). They occur in a section detailing expressions for poetry without periphrasis (ókend setning skáldskapar). This context makes it clear that it was the second of the pair of stanzas (Bragi Troll) that was the target quotation, because it lists terms for a poet, and this is reflected by both the prose introduction (see Context) and the ms. witnesses to the stanza, as only R and C (the latter in part, from l. 4) have the troll-woman’s stanza, while R, , U, A and C have Bragi’s. Nevertheless, both internal and contextual evidence indicates that the two must have formed a pair, in which Bragi’s stanza deliberately imitates the form and content of the troll-woman’s. For further details of the tradition of verse duels between poets and supernatural beings, see Introduction to Bragi Troll. Both Bragi’s and the troll-woman’s stanzas are, appropriately to their speakers’ status as travellers, in a form of tøglag ‘journey metre’. If authentic, they are likely to be the earliest attested examples of it (cf. SnE 2007, 29-30, 35, 87-8 and Section 4 of the General Introduction in SkP I for a survey of poetry in this metre). As Lindow (2006, 23) has indicated, very few other trolls in Old Norse literature are said to compose in skaldic (as contrasted with eddic) verse-forms and the troll-woman’s is probably made deliberately less regular than Bragi’s in terms of hendingar.

Troll kalla mik,
tungl sjǫt-Rungnis,
auðsúg jǫtuns,
élsólar bǫl,
vilsinn vǫlu,
vǫrð fjarðar,
hvélsvelg himins.
Hvats troll nema þat?


They call me troll, {moon of dwelling-Rungnir}, [TROLL] {wealth-sucker of a giant}, [TROLL-WOMAN] {trouble of the storm-sun}, [TROLL] {delightful company of a prophetess}, [TROLL-WOMAN] {guardian {of the corpse-fjord}}, [GRAVE > TROLL] {swallower {of the wheel of the sky}}. [(lit. ‘wheel-swallower of the sky’) SUN > TROLL] What’s a troll if not that?

context: See Introduction above. Ms. R’s text of this stanza is introduced thus: Þetta kvað Bragi hinn gamli þá er hann ók um skóg nokkvorn síð um kveld, þá stefjaði trǫllkona á hann ok spurði hverr þar fór ‘Bragi the Old spoke this when he drove through a certain forest late in the evening; then a troll-woman accosted him in poetry, and asked who went there’. The phrasal verb stefja á ‘to accost [someone] in poetry’ is considered by Almqvist (1965-74, I, 33) to be a sure sign that the encounter between Bragi and the troll-woman conformed to the same pattern of encounters between poets and supernatural powers as appears in much younger Icelandic literature and folklore.

notes: The vocabulary of the stanza is difficult and the meanings of many words are uncertain, while the kenning in l. 7 is inverted. However, all six kennings are likely to mean ‘troll’ or ‘troll-woman’.

texts: Skm 302, SnE 304

editions: Skj Anonyme digte og vers [X]: II. B. 6. En troldkvinde (AI, 182; BI, 172); Skald I, 92, NN §§1095A-E, 2458; SnE 1848-87, I, 464-7, II, 590, III, 95, SnE 1931, 165 n., SnE 1998, I, 83 (SnE).


GKS 2367 4° (R) 36v, 19 - 36v, 20 (SnE)  transcr.  image  image  image  
AM 748 II 4° (C) 6r, 1 - 6r, 1 [4-8] (SnE)  transcr.  image  image  
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