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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 The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.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 28 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, 831

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

19 — Þorm Lv 19I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 19’ 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. 831.

Ála þryngr at éli
ǫrstiklandi miklu;
skyldut skelknir hauldar
— skalmǫld vex nú — falma.
Búumk við sókn, en slœkni-
seggr skyli -orð of forðask,
es at geirþingi gǫngum,
gunnreifr, með Ôleifi.

{Ǫrstiklandi} þryngr at {miklu éli Ála}; hauldar skyldut falma skelknir; {skalmǫld} vex nú. Búumk við sókn, en gunnreifr seggr skyli of forðask slœkniorð, es gǫngum at {geirþingi} með Ôleifi.

{The arrow-shooter} [WARRIOR = Óláfr] presses towards {the great storm of Áli <legendary king>} [BATTLE]; freeholders should not waver, frightened; {a sword-age} [BATTLE] swells now. Let us prepare ourselves for an attack, and a war-happy man ought to shun weakling-words when we go to {the spear-assembly} [BATTLE] with Óláfr.

Mss: Holm2(64v), 972ˣ(494va), J2ˣ(219v), 321ˣ(246), Bæb(4ra-b), 68(64r), Holm4(59va), 61(122rb-va), 325V(78ra), 325VII(35v), Bb(195va), Flat(123ra), Tóm(152v) (ÓH); Kˣ(457v) (Hkr); DG8(100v) (ÓHLeg); Hb(89r), 142ˣ(103), 566aˣ(27v-28r), papp4ˣ(128v) (Fbr, ll. 1-4); 761bˣ(547r-v marg)

Readings: [1] Ála: ‘Ola’ DG8;    þryngr: þrǫngr 972ˣ, J2ˣ, Bæb, 68, Holm4, 61, Tóm, DG8, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, ‘þreyngr’ 321ˣ, Kˣ, ‘þravgr’ 325V, þrengr 325VII, þrǫng Bb, Flat, Hb, ‘þraumar’ papp4ˣ    [2] ǫr‑: aurr 325V, ǫl‑ DG8, at papp4ˣ;    ‑stiklandi: so J2ˣ, Bæb, 68, Holm4, 325V, Kˣ, Hb, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, papp4ˣ, 761bˣmarg, ‑skilandi Holm2, ‑stiklanda 972ˣ, 321ˣ, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, DG8, ‑stiklandar 61;    miklu: miklum Holm4    [3] skelknir: ‘skelcku’ papp4ˣ;    hauldar: so all others, hǫlða Holm2    [4] skalmǫld: ‘skam avlld’ 325V;    vex: vax 325VII, er DG8;    falma: palma 321ˣ, ‘falmra’ 61    [5] Búumk: ‘buniz’ 321ˣ, ‘byvmz’ Bb, hvílsk Tóm;    við: vit 972ˣ, Tóm;    slœkni: slœknir 61, Flat, Tóm, slœkinn DG8    [6] seggr: seggir 972ˣ, seggir Flat;    skyli‑: skulu Flat, skyla corrected from ‘sky(ni)(?)’ Tóm;    forðask: óðask J2ˣ, ‘fǫrðaz’ Kˣ    [8] ‑reifr: ‑reifir 972ˣ, J2ˣ, Holm4, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, reip 321ˣ, ‑reifs Bæb, 68, ‑leifr DG8;    Ôleifi: ‘olefi’ 325V

Editions: Skj: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld, 2. Lausavísur 19: AI, 286, BI, 265, Skald I, 136; Fms 5, 58, Fms 12, 98, ÓH 1941, I, 545 (ch. 203), Flat 1860-8, II, 341; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 346, VI, 108, Hkr 1868, 476 (ÓHHkr ch. 218), Hkr 1893-1901, I, 461, IV, 163-4, ÍF 27, 359-60, Hkr 1991, II, 515 (ÓHHkr ch. 206); ÓHLeg 1849, 69, 119, ÓHLeg 1922, 84, ÓHLeg 1982, 192-5; Hb 1892-6, 412, Fbr 1852, 109, Fbr 1925-7, 208, ÍF 6, 264 (ch. 24), Loth 1960a, xlix, 154 (ch. 17), ÍS II, 840-1 (ch. 24); Gaertner 1907, 311-12, 341-2, Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 72-3.

Context: In ÓH and Hkr, the skalds Gizurr svarti, Þorfinnr munnr and then Þormóðr exhort King Óláfr and his men before the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad). We are told that men memorized the stanzas straight away. In ÓHLeg, as battle approaches, the king instructs a farmer named Þorgeirr to bury his body afterwards and to wash the wounds of his men in the same water in which he was washed. Then Þormóðr delivers the vísa that is attributed to Gizurr in ÓH and Hkr (Gizsv Lv 1), followed without interruption by this lausavísa and the next. In Fbr, with its different arrangement of lines, Þormóðr, apparently in private conversation with the king, admits to being sad at the thought that they may not lodge together at day’s end. The king assures him that if he can arrange it, they will go to the same place. Þormóðr brightens up and delivers the stanza (i.e. Lv 19/1-4 + 20/5-8).

Notes: [All]: Lines 5-8 are not found in the mss of Fbr, which instead have ll. 5-8 of Lv 20 here. Gaertner (1907) favours the Fbr arrangement, but his argument entails taking Ála as a vocative, which is unnecessary and would entail emendation to Áli; see further Note to Lv 15 [All]. — [1, 2] ǫrstiklandi þryngr ‘the arrow-shooter [WARRIOR = Óláfr] presses’: The ms. variants of þryngr are mostly mere alternate spellings (see CVC: þröngva). There are two main interpretations of the construction, and an alternative using the variant -stiklanda: (a) On the analysis offered here, ǫrstiklandi is the subject of þryngr, cf. Arn Þorfdr 18/2II mildingr þrǫng at hildi ‘the bountiful one stormed into battle’. (b) The verb is well attested in impersonal usage with at, meaning ‘draws nigh, approaches’ (see Vígf Lv 1/3; LP: þryngva), and this is how eds (beginning with Bartholin 1689, 174) have understood it: ‘the battle draws nigh’. Accordingly, the cpd has generally been interpreted as a vocative (as in Skj B, ÍF 6 and ÍF 27). (c) Finnur Jónsson (1932-3) argues for reading ǫrstiklanda as a dat., ‘for the arrow-shooter’, on the ground that direct address to the king is uncommon in other skalds’ verses; but cf. the next stanza, and ǫrstiklanda is for the most part the reading of the less reliable mss. — [2] ǫrstiklandi ‘the arrow-shooter’: The resemblance to Stiklastaðir, the name of the battlefield, introduces the possibility of paranomasia.  — [4] skalmǫld ‘a sword-age [BATTLE]’: The reference is to the impending doom, perhaps by allusion to Ragnarǫk (cf. Vsp 45/7, NK 10). The same word is used in reference to the battle of Svǫlðr in Hfr ErfÓl 25/6; its status as a kenning is somewhat uncertain. — [5, 6] slœkniorð ‘weakling-words’: The first constituent is presumably a compounding form of a noun *slœknir, derived from slœkinn ‘lax’ (cf. slókr ‘slouching person’). — [8] gunnreifr ‘war-happy’: This is taken here with the sg. seggr ‘man’ in l. 6. It could equally well qualify the unexpressed subject ‘we’ of gǫngum, which could have sg. meaning; cf. the synonymous vígreifr, qualifying vér ‘we [I]’ in Lv 21/2. — [8] Ôleifi ‘Óláfr’: The archaic form with ‑leif- demanded by the rhyme is the usual one before c. 1100. On the development of the form, see Gordon (1957, 238-9), and cf. Note to HSt Rst 3/8.

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