Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;

1. Víkingarvísur (Víkv) - 15

Skj info: Sigvatr Þórðarson, Islandsk skjald, o. 995-o. 1045 (AI, 223-75, BI, 213-54).

Skj poems:
1. Víkingarvísur
2. Nesjavísur
3. Austrfararvísur
4. En drape om kong Olaf
5. Vestrfararvísur
6. Et kvad om Erlingr Skjalgsson
7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson
8. Tryggvaflokkr
9. Et digt om dronning Astrid
10. Knútsdrápa
11. Bersǫglisvísur
12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga
13. Lausavísur
14. Et par halvvers af ubestemmelige digte

Sigvatr or Sighvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) is said (ÍF 27, 54) to have been the son of Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’, an Icelander who served, in succession, Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson, leader of the Jómsvíkingar, his brother Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, who campaigned in England, and Óláfr Haraldsson, later king of Norway (r. c. 1015-30) and saint. Þórðr is listed as one of Sigvaldi’s skalds in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 259, 268), but none of his poetry survives. The family tradition of poetry can also be traced in Óttarr svarti ‘the Black’, said to have been Sigvatr’s sister’s son (ÍF 27, 144; ÓH 1941, I, 203). Sigvatr was brought up by a certain Þorkell, at Apavatn in south-west Iceland. When nearly fully grown he sailed to what is now Trondheim, where he met up with his father and joined King Óláfr’s retinue. According to Snorri (ÍF 27, 54-6; ÓH 1941, I, 81-3), Sigvatr recited Lv 2-3 at this time, and he interceded with the king on behalf of Icelandic merchants forced to pay a heavy tax in Norway (cf. Sigv Lv 4). It is also likely that this is when Þórðr provided Sigvatr with the material for Víkv (see Introduction to Sigv Víkv), which may be the poem referred to in the prose introduction to Sigv Lv 2 (Fidjestøl 1982, 118). There is no evidence that Sigvatr ever returned to Iceland, and according to the anecdote in which Sigv Lv 11 is preserved, he died on the island of Selja in north-western Norway and was buried at Kristskirkja (Kristkirken) in Trondheim. His poetry records his various journeys to Sweden, England and the Continent, as well as incidents in Norway. We know nothing of Sigvatr’s private life, except that he had a daughter called Tófa, who had King Óláfr himself as her godfather (Sigv Lv 19).

Sigvatr’s surviving poetic oeuvre is both large and remarkably diverse, encompassing different kinds of encomia not only on King Óláfr (Sigv Víkv, Sigv Nesv, Sigv Óldr, Sigv ErfÓl), but also on King Knútr of Denmark (Sigv Knútdr) and the Norwegian nobleman Erlingr Skjálgsson (Sigv Erl, Sigv Erlfl). Sigvatr was godfather to King Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and composed some avuncular words of advice to the boy-king (Sigv BervII). All of these patrons are recognised in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 252-4, 258, 260-2, 269), where Sigvatr is also credited with having composed for the Swedish king Ǫnundr Óláfsson (although no such poetry survives, cf. Sigv Knútdr 4/6) and the Norwegian chieftain Ívarr inn hvíti ‘the White’ (cf. Context to Sigv Lv 8). Sigvatr also composed a poem on the Norwegian pretender Tryggvi Óláfsson (Sigv Tryggfl) and is unique in having composed in dróttkvætt in praise of a woman, Óláfr Haraldsson’s widow Ástríðr Óláfsdóttir (Sigv Ást). Several of Sigvatr’s poems are more or less loosely connected sequences of stanzas rather than more formal compositions, and encompass both travelogue (Sigv Austv) and political commentary (Sigv Vestv, Sigv BervII). The latter genre is also well represented in his lausavísur, which also include some remarkably personal stanzas expressing his grief at the death of King Óláfr (Sigv Lv 22-4). Sigvatr’s status as a hǫfuðskáld ‘chief skald’ was recognised in the twelfth century (cf. Esk Geisl 12/8VII). His versatility as a poet has clearly inspired a number of anecdotes focusing on the composition of poetry, mostly of doubtful authenticity (cf. Contexts to Sigv Lv 1, 8, 11, 27; also Introduction to Ótt Hfl). Apart from two fragments preserved in SnE (Sigv Frag 1-2III), Sigvatr’s poetry is transmitted in a wide range of texts within the tradition of the kings’ sagas and is therefore edited in this volume or (in the case of the late Sigv Berv) in SkP II. For general studies of Sigvatr’s life and works, see Paasche (1917), Hollander (1940) and Petersen (1946).

Víkingarvísur (‘Vísur about Viking Voyages’) — Sigv VíkvI

Judith Jesch 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Víkingarvísur’ 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. 532.

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Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 1. Víkingarvísur, 1014-15 (AI, 223-8, BI, 213-16)

in texts: Flat, Fsk, Hkr, ÓH, ÓHHkr, ÓHLeg

SkP info: I, 532

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

Note: The following transcriptions have been entered to aid the editing process. These may not have been fully reviewed and checked and may therefore not be reliable. You may wish to consult the manuscript images. Any corrections can be notified to the database editor.

1. Kx - 221r/3-221r/10
Langr bar ut hiɴ unga | jofra kund at sundi | þioð ugði ser siþan | sia meiðr konungs reiði | kaɴ ec til margs eɴ manna | miɴi fyrzta siɴi | hann rꜹð ǫztr fyr ꜹstan | ulfs sót um sker sota
2. Kx - 222v/19-222v/26
Þar var eɴ oc ǫɴur | Olafr ne svic saluz | odda þing i eyddri | eyfyllo gecc heyia | sitt atto fior fotum | fár beið or stað | eɴ þeim er undan ruɴo | allvald boendr gialda | þridia orrosta
3. Kx - 223r/26-223v/5
Hrið varþ stáls i striðri | strꜹng hordala gꜹngo | fiɴlendinga at fylkis | niðs hin þriðia | eɴ ꜹstr v lá leysti | leið vikinga sceiða | balagarðz at borði | brimsciðum lá siþa
4. Kx - 223v/22-224r/1
Eɴ qvaþo gram guɴar | galldrz uphǫfom vallda | dyrð fra ec þeim er vel varþiz | viɴaz iiij siɴi | þa er olitill uti | jofra liþs a miðli | friðr gecc sundr i slíþri || suðr vík dǫnum kuðri
5. Kx - 224r/9-224r/16
Vig vaɴtu hleɴa hneigir | hialmum grímt it fimta | þoldo hlyr fyr hare | hrið kiɴlima siðo | þa er v rꜹsn oc ræsis | reið heʀ ofan sceiðom | eɴ i gegn at guɴi | geck hilmis siþ reckom
6. Kx - 226r/24-226v/3
Rett er at socn hin setta | snaʀ þengill bꜹð englum | at þar er Oleifr sotti | ygs lunduna bryɢior | sverþ bito vǫlsc eɴ vǫrðo || vikingar þar díki | átti sumt i sletto | suðvirki lið buðer
7. Kx - 226v/11-226v/18
Eɴ let siꜹnda siɴi | sverþþing hait verþa | endr a ulfkels landi | Olafr sem ec fer máli | stoð hringmara heiðe | herfall var þar alla | ellu kind er olli | arfvorðr Haraldz starfi
8. Kx - 227r/22-227r/27
Veit ec at víga mǫtir | vindom hátr hiɴ átta | styrcr gecc vorðr at virki | verðungar styr gerþi | siɴ mátut bǫ baɴa | borg cantara sorgar | mart fecc pruðom þartum | port greifar Oleifi
9. Kx - 227v/7-227v/14
Vaɴ ungr konungr englum | otrꜹðr scarar rꜹðar | endr com brúnt a branda | bloþ i nyia moðo | nu hefi ec oʀostor ꜹstan | ogn dvalþat nio talðar | herr fell danscr þar er dꜹʀom | dreif mest at Oleifi
10. Kx - 228r/8-228r/14
Tǫgr var fullr i fǫgrom | folc veɢs drifar hreɢi | hellt sem hilmir mælti | hrings firðe liþ þingat | bol let hann á hǫli | hátt vikingar atto | þeir baðut ser siþan | slics scotnaðar þrotna
11. Kx - 228r/21-228v/2
Olafr vantu þar er jǫfrar | ellipta styr fello | ungr comtu af þvi þingi | þollr i grislo polla | þar fra ec víg at vitto | vilialms fyr bǫ hialma | tala minzt er þat telia | tryɢs jarls hátt snarla
12. Kx - 228v/5-228v/8
Tǫɴ rꜹð xij siɴi | tír fylgiandi ylgiar | varð i fetlafirði | fiorbaɴ lagit mǫnnum
13. Kx - 228v/20-228v/27
Þettanda vaɴ þrǫnda | þat var flotta bǫl drottinn | sniallr i selio pollum | suɴarla styr kuɴan | up let gramr i gamla | guɴvaldz borg vm morgin
14. Kx - 229r/29-229v/7
Mals vaɴ mǫra hilmir || muɴrioðr er com suɴan | gangr þar er gamlir sprungo | geirar up at leiro | varð fyr viga niǫrðom | vaʀandi sia fiaʀi | brendr a bygðo landi | bǫr heitir sva peito
15. Kx - 235v/16-235v/23
Ricr qvað ser at sǫkia | sꜹþungs konungr nꜹðir | fremþar giarn i forno | fund Haconar sundi | strangr hitti þar þengill | þaɴ jarl er var aɴaʀ | ǫztr oc ætt gat bezta | ungr a dansca tungo
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