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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 The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.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 16 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, 829

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

18 — Þorm Lv 18I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 18’ 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. 829.

Brennum ǫll fyr innan
inni, þaus vér finnum,
(land tegask herr með hjǫrvi)
Hverbjǫrg (fyr gram verja).
Ýs (hafi allra húsa
Innþrœndir kol sinna)
angr skal kveykt í klungri,
(kǫld) ef ek má valda.

Brennum ǫll inni fyr innan Hverbjǫrg, þaus vér finnum; herr tegask verja land fyr gram með hjǫrvi. Innþrœndir hafi kǫld kol allra húsa sinna; {angr ýs} skal kveykt í klungri, ef ek má valda.

Let’s burn all the dwellings inside Hverbjǫrg that we find; the people show themselves ready to defend the land against the king with the sword. Let the Innþrœndir have the cold coals of all their houses; {the sorrow of the yew} [FIRE] shall be ignited in the thorns, if I can have my way.

Mss: Holm2(64r), 972ˣ(489va), J2ˣ(218v), 321ˣ(244), 73aˣ(193v), 68(63v), Holm4(59ra), 61(122ra), 325V(77va), 325VII(35r), Bb(195ra), Flat(122va), Tóm(152v) (ÓH); Kˣ(455v) (Hkr); DG8(99v) (ÓHLeg); Hb(88v), 142ˣ(102), 566aˣ(26v), 141ˣ(50r), papp4ˣ(128r) (Fbr); 761bˣ(536r-v marg)

Readings: [1] Brennum: ‘S rænnum’ DG8;    ǫll: alls 325V    [2] inni: so Holm4, 325V, Bb, Tóm, papp4ˣ, 761bˣmarg, inney Holm2, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 321ˣ, 68, 325VII, Kˣ, DG8, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 141ˣ, innin 73aˣ, Flat, Hb, innan ey 61;    þaus (‘þꜹ er’): þau at 61;    vér: om. 972ˣ    [3] land: so 73aˣ, 68, Holm4, 61, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, Kˣ, Hb, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 141ˣ, papp4ˣ, lǫnd Holm2, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 321ˣ, 325V, DG8;    tegask: tregask 972ˣ, skulum Flat, skal Hb, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 141ˣ, papp4ˣ, 761bˣmarg;    herr: her 972ˣ, Bb, hver Flat, heim 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 141ˣ, hér papp4ˣ;    hjǫrvi: fjǫrvi Bb    [4] Hver‑: Her‑ 972ˣ, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 68, 61, Bb, Flat, Tóm, ‘hun’ papp4ˣ;    ‑bjǫrg: ‑djǫrf 68, ‑borg 61, Bb, Tóm, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, bær 141ˣ, ‘‑bjorg’ and ‘‑borg’ 761bˣmarg;    fyr: ‑um 68, Flat, papp4ˣ;    gram: ‘garam’ Bb, grams Flat, svá papp4ˣ;    verja: ‘v[…]’ 325VII, vera Kˣ    [5] Ýs: ‘Uss’ 972ˣ, ýss 325V, Flat, papp4ˣ, ‘hyss’ DG8;    hafi: hafa 972ˣ, taki 73aˣ, 68, Hb, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, papp4ˣ, ‘[…]afi’ 325VII, taka 141ˣ, hafir 761bˣmarg;    allra: so all others, allir Holm2;    húsa: so 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 68, Holm4, 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, Kˣ, Hb, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 141ˣ, papp4ˣ, om. Holm2, ‘—’ DG8, ‘husu’ 761bˣmarg    [6] ‑þrœndir: ‑þrændr 972ˣ, Flat;    kol sinna: kvǫl finna Bb, ‘kolsvinna’ 141ˣ    [7] skal: mun 972ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, Bb, Flat, Tóm, Hb, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 141ˣ, skulu 325V;    kveykt: ‘kveik’ or ‘kveck’ 61, ‘kvekt’ 325V    [8] kǫld: kald 972ˣ, Flat, ‘kuld’ Tóm, kǫll Kˣ;    ef: er DG8;    valda: ‘gvallda’ corrected from ‘giallda’ Bb, ráða Tóm

Editions: Skj: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld, 2. Lausavísur 18: AI, 286, BI, 264, Skald I, 136; Fms 5, 54-5, Fms 12, 97-8, ÓH 1941, I, 540 (ch. 201), Flat 1860-8, II, 339; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 343, VI, 107, 12, 97-8, Hkr 1868, 474 (ÓHHkr ch. 217), Hkr 1893-1901, I, 457, IV, 162, ÍF 27, 356, Hkr 1991, II, 512 (ÓHHkr ch. 205); ÓHLeg 1849, 67, 118, ÓHLeg 1922, 81, ÓHLeg 1982, 186-7; Hb 1892-6, 411-12, Fbr 1852, 108, Fbr 1925-7, 206, ÍF 6, 260-1 (ch. 24), Loth 1960a, xl, xlix, 153 (ch. 17), ÍS II, 840 (ch. 24); Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 70-2.

Context: In ÓH and Hkr, when the king faces an army of farmers from Veradalr (Verdalen), Finnr Árnason advises that they burn the farmers’ houses in order to get them to break ranks and desert. Þormóðr then recites the stanza. In ÓHLeg and Fbr, the king asks Þormóðr his opinion, and he responds with this stanza.

Notes: [All]: This is the first of the stanzas dealing with events related to the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad), which took place on 29 July 1030 near Verdalsøra, about 70 kilometres north-east of Trondheim. For the battle and other skaldic poetry associated with it, see the entry on Óláfr Haraldsson in ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume. — [1, 4] fyr innan Hverbjǫrg ‘inside Hverbjǫrg’: The prepositional phrase could alternatively modify finnum ‘find’ (l. 2). See further Note to l. 4, Hverbjǫrg. — [2] inni ‘dwellings’: ÍF 6 reads innin ‘the houses’ with 73aˣ, Flat and Hb, but Þormóðr is not otherwise known to use the postpositive article. The variant Inney presumably refers to Inderøya in Nord-Trøndelag (Hb 1892-6, 411 n. 1), and it is adopted in ÍF 27. Gaertner (1907, 340-1), on the basis of a reconstructed *Innir in reference to the inhabitants of a portion of Verdalen, would read Brennum ǫll lǫnd fyr innan Inni ‘Let’s burn all the lands as far as the Innir’. This desperate remedy appears to be motivated by the far remove of Hverbjǫrg from fyr innan. The present interpretation was first proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI V, 59 n.). — [3] tegask ‘show themselves ready’: So (with minor variations) read the mss of the sagas of Óláfr helgi, and the reading is adopted in Fbr 1852, 108, Skj B and Skald (see also Finnur Jónsson 1912, 44), while the Fbr mss read skal ‘shall/intends to’. Tegask, being the lectio difficilior, would appear to be the more original reading. It may be, however, that the two are oral variants. — [4] Hverbjǫrg ‘Hverbjǫrg’: (a) If indeed this is a p. n. (and the elements would be rare in Norway), the site is now unidentifiable, though presumably it was in Verdalen (ON Veradalr) near Stiklestad. (b) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 27) instead took hverbjǫrg as ‘kettle-crag’, a kenning for ‘house’. (c) The variant herbjǫrg (so Fms 12, 97; LP (1860)) would give ‘army crags’ and herborg (so Fms 5, 55) ‘army strongholds'. — [5] hafi ‘let ... have’: Hafi is also adopted in Skj B and Skald. The variant taki ‘let ... take’ is also possible, though it has less strong ms. support and is slightly less idiomatic. — [6] Innþrœndir: The people of Inntrøndelag, the north-easternmost region of the Trondheim district. Zimmerling (1997), discussing this stanza, argues that the portrayal of these people ‘as prototypical public enemies’ is developed in later prose narratives but is not part of skaldic tradition. — [8] ef ek má valda ‘if I can have my way’: Previous eds have generally construed this, as here, with the second of the two clauses in the second helmingr, though it seems to make little sense for the poet to say so emphatically that he wishes to burn down thorns, and Finnur Jónsson (1932-3, 72) later changed his mind and took the ef-clause with the taki-clause. Possibly klungri ‘thorns’ had some specific sense more related to settlements, such as ‘enclosure’, or else a figurative sense relating to the throng of hostile farmers and the problem they present. Such a reading might be supported by the proverbial ring of skal ‘shall’ in l. 7.

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