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Runic Dictionary

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Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld (Þorm)

11th century; volume 5; ed. R. D. Fulk;

I. Lausavísur (Lv) - 21

This edition is currently in preparation. The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.

Þormóðr Bersason’s (Þorm) story is told in Fóstbrœðra saga ‘Saga of the Sworn Brothers’ (Fbr), and on its witness he may be supposed to have been born c. 998 and to have died of a wound received in the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. The saga, however, is untrustworthy as to particulars, as the author seems to have derived most of his information about the poet from the poetry available to him. According to the saga, in childhood he and his friend Þorgeirr Hávarsson each swore that he would avenge the killing of the other if he lived. The latter, at the age of fifteen, avenged the killing of his father, initiating a string of thirteen killings commemorated in Þormóðr’s poem celebrating his sworn brother, ÞorgeirsdrápaDrápa about Þorgeirr’ (Þorgdr). Even though their friendship ended when Þormóðr was about fifteen, Þormóðr travelled to Greenland after Þorgeirr was killed (c. 1024), to take vengeance on the perpetrator Þorgrímr trolli (‘Troll’? see Note to Fbr 29/1) and three of his sons. The poet earned his nickname kolbrúnarskáld ‘Coal-brow’s Poet’ for having composed poetry in praise of Þórbjǫrg kolbrún Glúmsdóttir, though none of these survive (probably for reasons of a moral nature; see Boyer 1990, 80). According to Þormóðar þáttr (Þorm; see Þorm Lv 10-11I) he served King Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great) in Denmark before returning to Norway, where he spent the last part of his short life in the service of the king, Óláfr Haraldsson (S. Óláfr). According to a memorable passage in Hkr, on the morning of the battle of Stiklestad he recited Bjarkamál in fornu (Anon Bjark 1-2III) to rouse the king’s troops. For further biographical information, see Finnur Jónsson (1932-3, 31-3), ÍF 6, lii-lxx and Schach (1993).

Lausavísur — Þorm LvV (Fbr)

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘ Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur’ 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. 820. <> (accessed 22 January 2022)

stanzas:  10   11   15   16   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25 

cross-references:  17 = Anon (Vǫlsa) 11I 

for reference only:  18x   19x   20x   21x   22x   23x   24x   25x 

Skj: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld: 2. Lausavísur (AI, 281-8, BI, 260-6); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 12 | 13 | 14

SkP info: I, 837

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

22 — Þorm Lv 22I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 22’ 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. 837.

Haraldr vas bitr at berjask
bǫðreifr með Ôleifi;
þar gekk harðra hjǫrva
Hringr ok Dagr at þingi.
Réðu þeir und rauðar
randir prútt at standa
— fekk benþiðurr blakkan
bjór — dǫglingar fjórir.

Bǫðreifr Haraldr vas bitr at berjask með Ôleifi; þar gekk Hringr ok Dagr at {þingi harðra hjǫrva}. Þeir fjórir dǫglingar réðu at standa prútt und rauðar randir; {benþiðurr} fekk blakkan bjór.

Battle-happy Haraldr was sharp at fighting beside Óláfr; there Hringr and Dagr went to {the assembly of hard swords} [BATTLE]. Those four princes stood magnificently under red shields; {the wound-grouse} [RAVEN/EAGLE] got dark beer [blood].

Mss: Hb(89v), 142ˣ(105), 566aˣ(29v), Flat(125vb-126ra) (Fbr); DG8(101v) (ÓHLeg); A(3r), W(99), B(2r) (TGT, l. 4); 761bˣ(489v)

Readings: [1] vas bitr at berjask: sá ek at vel varðisk DG8;    bitr: ‘bifr’ with bitr in margin 761bˣ    [2] bǫð‑: víg‑ DG8    [3] harðra: harðr á 142ˣ, hára DG8;    hjǫrva: so all others, om. Hb    [4] at: á Flat, DG8    [5] Réðu: so all others, réðusk Hb;    und: um 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 761bˣ    [7] ‑þiðurr blakkan: ‑þiðurs blakki all others    [8] bjór: bjórr DG8

Editions: Skj: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld, 2. Lausavísur 22: AI, 287, BI, 265, Skald I, 136, NN §1853C; Hb 1892-6, 414-15, Fbr 1852, 110, Flat 1860-8, II, 365, Fbr 1925-7, 212, ÍF 6, 271 (ch. 24), Loth 1960a, 156 (ch. 17), ÍS II, 842, 849 (ch. 24); ÓHLeg 1849, 72, 120, ÓHLeg 1922, 87, ÓHLeg 1982, 200-1; SnE 1848-87, II, 92-3, TGT 1884, 58, TGT 1927, 38, TGT 1998, 92-3; Gaertner 1907, 312, 346, Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 75-6.

Context: Cf. Lv 21. In Fbr and ÓHLeg, a woman asks Þormóðr which of Óláfr’s men were most valiant in the battle, and he replies. In Málfræðinnar grundvǫllr, the first section of TGT, l. 4 is cited to illustrate the use of the conjunction, here ok ‘and’.

Notes: [1] Haraldr: This is Óláfr’s half-brother, later King Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson, who took part in the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad) at the age of fifteen and was severely wounded. — [3] gekk ‘went’: A sg. verb with cpd subject (here Hringr ok Dagr, l. 4) is not unusual in skaldic poetry; cf. Hfr ErfÓl 27/1 and Note. — [3] harðra ‘of hard’: Gaertner (1907, 346) adopts the reading hára ‘high, long’ of ÓHLeg, seemingly on the basis of the belief that harðr is not attested as an epithet for a sword; but cf. LP: harðr 1. — [4] Hringr ok Dagr ‘Hringr and Dagr’: According to Hkr (ÍF 27, 105) King Hringr of Hedmark had been banished to Sweden when Óláfr had captured the kings of Upplǫnd (Opplandene). Snorri gives no indication that Hringr was at the battle, but his son Dagr played a prominent role, coming to the king’s aid with nearly 1200 men (ÍF 27, 348-9). Von See (1977b, 467-71) argues that both names are fictitious, derived from a genealogy constructed to give Hringaríki (Ringerike) an eponymous founder, and thus that this stanza cannot have been composed by Þormóðr. See also the Note to Lv 24/8. — [5, 6] réðu at standa ‘stood’: Réðu (inf. ráða) is here, as frequently, merely an auxiliary (see LP: ráða 12). Skj B and Skald also prefer this, the reading of all the other mss, to that of Hb, réðusk at standa ‘took their positions, resolved to stand’, which looks like a scribal improvement. — [7-8] blakkan bjór ‘dark beer [blood]’: Structurally, this is not a complete kenning, since it lacks a determinant referring to a beast of battle (see Meissner 207-8 for complete examples), but semantically a determinant is provided by benþiðurr ‘wound-grouse’ (cf. Note to Lv 10/2).

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