This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Runic Dictionary

login: password: stay logged in: help

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 The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.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 19 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, 840

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

24 — Þorm Lv 24I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 24’ 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. 840.

Emka rjóðr, en rauðum
ræðr grǫnn Skǫgul manni
hauka setrs in hvíta;
hyggr fár of mik sáran.
Hitt veldr mér, at meldrar
morðvenjanda Fenju
djúp ok danskra vápna
Dags hríðar spor svíða.

Emka rjóðr, en {grǫnn Skǫgul in hvíta {setrs hauka}} ræðr rauðum manni; fár hyggr of mik sáran. Hitt veldr mér, at {djúp spor {hríðar Dags ok danskra vápna} svíða {morðvenjanda {meldrar Fenju}}.

I am not ruddy, but {the slender, white Skǫgul <valkyrie> {of the seat of hawks}} [ARM > WOMAN] gives orders to a red [blood-stained] man; few think about me, wounded. This is the cause to me [of my pallor], that {the deep tracks {of the blizzard of Dagr <legendary king> and of Danish weapons}} [BATTLE > WOUNDS] cause pain to {the killing-accustomed one {of the flour of Fenja <giantess>}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Þormóðr].

Mss: Holm2(69v), 972ˣ(542va), J2ˣ(229v), 321ˣ(262), 73aˣ(204v), Holm4(65ra), 61(126vb), 325V(82vb), 325VII(39r), Bb(200va), Flat(126ra), Tóm(157r) (ÓH); Kˣ(476r) (Hkr); Hb(89v), 142ˣ(107), 566aˣ(32r), papp4ˣ(130r-v) (Fbr); DG8(102r) (ÓHLeg)

Readings: [1] Emka: einka ek 972ˣ, 321ˣ, Tóm;    rjóðr en rauðum: rjóðr en rjóða 321ˣ, rjóðr né rauðum Holm4, rjóðr en rjóðum Bb, rauðr en rjóðum Flat, rauðr né rjóðum 142ˣ, 566aˣ, rjóðr né rjóða DG8    [2] ræðr: ræði 73aˣ;    grǫnn: grǫn J2ˣ, Flat, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, ‘gun’ 73aˣ, 325V, grann Holm4, gran 325VII;    Skǫgul: kona DG8;    manni: mani 73aˣ    [3] hauka setrs: so 61, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, Kˣ, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, DG8, hauklátrs Holm2, 972ˣ, hauka látrs J2ˣ, 321ˣ, Holm4, 325V, Bb, ‘hꜹkal atrz’ 73aˣ;    in: ok 321ˣ, ‘hui’ 325VII, um DG8;    hvíta: heitinn 321ˣ, heilum Bb, hættinn DG8    [4] hyggr fár of (‘hyggr far vm’): hyggsk fár um 321ˣ, hugfár um Flat, 142ˣ, 566aˣ    [5] Hitt: þat DG8;    at: ef J2ˣ, er 321ˣ, en DG8;    meldrar: ‘mielldrar’ 325VII, mæra DG8    [6] morðvenjanda: morðvenjandi Holm2, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, Holm4, 61, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, Kˣ, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, ‘modrveniande’ 321ˣ, ‘morðvenandi’ 73aˣ, 325V, margs deyjanda Bb, móteggjaðra DG8    [7] djúp: draupnis 321ˣ, 61, Bb, DG8, drep 73aˣ, ‘diop’ 325V, djúpt Flat, 566aˣ;    danskra: dýrra 321ˣ, DG8, dýra 61, Bb    [8] Dags: so 972ˣ, 73aˣ, Holm4, 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, 142ˣ, DG8, dal‑ Holm2, dals Kˣ;    spor: ‘spior’ 972ˣ, ‘svor’ DG8;    svíða: om. Flat, 142ˣ, 566aˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld, 2. Lausavísur 24: AI, 288, BI, 266, Skald I, 137, NN §§714, 1991 anm. 2; Fms 5, 91-2, Fms 12, 103, ÓH 1941, I, 584 (ch. 234), Flat 1860-8, II, 366; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 376, VI, 115, Hkr 1868, 497-8 (ÓHHkr ch. 247), Hkr 1893-1901, I, 502, IV, 172, ÍF 6, 276, ÍF 27, 391, Hkr 1991, II, 538 (ÓHHkr ch. 234); ÓHLeg 1849, 73, 120, ÓHLeg 1922, 88, ÓHLeg 1982, 202-5; Hb 1892-6, 416, Fbr 1852, 112, Fbr 1925-7, 215-16, ÍF 6, 275 (ch. 24), Loth 1960a, li-lii, 158 (ch. 17), ÍS II, 843, 850-1 (ch. 24); Gaertner 1907, 312, 348-9, Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 77-8.

Context: In ÓH, excluding Flat, and Hkr, an unidentified person attending to the wounded from the battle at Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad) asks Þormóðr why he is so pale, and why he does not have his wounds bound, and he replies. In Flat, Þormóðr has just pulled an arrow from his heart, its barbs covered with particoloured flesh. In ÓHLeg, a woman (see Context to Lv 25) asks simply what sort of wound he has. In Fbr, the woman asks questions like those in ÓH.

Notes: [All]: An alternate version of this vísa appears in Hb, and in the list of eds above, those from Hb 1892-6 to ÍS are based on the Hb version. Papp4ˣ also (it appears not to have been recognized) has a text of the stanza, which in one place gives a better reading than Hb and thus supports an emendation to Hb suggested by earlier eds. Hb, however, remains all in all the better text, and so it is the basis for the following edn:

Emka rauðr, né rauðum
ræðr grǫnn kona manni;
járn stendr fast it forna
fenstígi mér benja.

Þat veldr mér, in mæra
marglóðar nú tróða,
Draupnis dýrra vápna
Dags hríðar spor svíða.

Readings: [1] rauðum: rjóðum papp4ˣ [3] fast: so papp4ˣ, farst Hb [4] -stígi: -stíga papp4ˣ [5] Þat: Þó papp4ˣ; mæra: meira papp4ˣ [7] Draupnis: ‘drepnis’ papp4ˣ [8] svíða: om. papp4ˣ. Prose order: Emka rauðr, né ræðr grǫnn kona rauðum manni; it forna járn stendr fast benja fenstígi mér. Þat veldr mér nú, in mæra tróða marglóðar Draupnis: spor dýrra vápna hríðar Dags svíða. Translation: ‘I am not red, nor does the slender woman give orders to a ruddy man; the ancient iron [arrow] sticks fast in my path of the fen of wounds [(lit. fen-path of wounds) BLOOD > HEART]; this is the cause to me now, glorious staff of the ocean-ember of Draupnir <ring> [GOLD > WOMAN]: the tracks of valued weapons of the blizzard of Dagr <legendary king> [BATTLE > WOUNDS] are painful.’ Notes: This alternate version of the stanza seems to be a copyist’s attempt to improve a corrupt stanza, and the translation offered here is not to be regarded as asserting that the stanza makes sense. Draupnis (l. 7), the name of a mythical gold ring from which further rings drip (cf. Þorm Lv 2/2V (Fbr 9)), adds nothing to the kenning to which it is attached, since marglóðar ‘ocean-ember’ by itself means ‘gold’, and similarly hríðar Dags ‘of the blizzard of Dagr’ = ‘of battle’ is superfluous. — [1-4]: This and the following Notes relate to the main text above. The obscurities of this helmingr, especially the two references to ‘red’ (rjóðr ... rauðum) and the variants en/ in l. 1, have given rise to various interpretations by scribes and eds, and much depends on which ms. readings are adopted. (a) In the interpretation offered here, the text of ÓH is adopted, including the conj. en ‘but’. Rauðum ‘red’ is assumed to mean that the poet is blood-stained. Such a usage is admittedly unparalleled (though roðinn ‘reddened’ is often used this way: see LP: rjóða 2), but this analysis provides the contrast implied by en (I am not ruddy, but I am nonetheless ‘red’), and it helps make sense of hitt in l. 5, which is emphatic. It seems likeliest that the stanza known to both Snorri and the author of Fbr collocated rjóðr ‘ruddy’, rather than rauðr ‘red’, with emka ‘I am not’, since in both the stanza is a response to the question why the poet is so pale. (b) Skj B, by contrast, adopts ‘and not’, and interprets the first three lines to mean ‘I am not red; neither does the white, slender woman have a red-cheeked man’, and this is the reading also of Skald. (c) A further possibility is to take the ‘red man’ in the second clause as a rueful reference to someone other than the speaker, probably a man who is ‘red’ in complexion, healthy and uninjured (so ÍF 6). Reference to a red-haired man, by contrast with the black-haired Þormóðr (Lv 8V (Fbr 26)), is suggested by Finnur Jónsson (Hb 1892-6; Finnur Jónsson 1932-3), but judging from the prose contexts none of the saga authors perceived a reference to a red-haired man here. — [3] setrs hauka ‘of the seat of hawks [ARM]’: It is probably best, with Skj B and Skald, to prefer this reading to the variant látrs hauka ‘nest of hawks’, since it is attested in all three textual traditions, while the latter is found only in some mss of ÓH. Moreover, it is paralleled in Sigmund Lv 1/1V (Nj 15), while látr ‘lair’, or here ‘nest’, is otherwise used almost exclusively in kennings for ‘gold’. It should be noted, however, that the reading adopted here produces a rhyme setrs : hvíta, and nowhere else does Þormóðr rhyme a short vowel and a long one in an open syllable. But that perhaps explains why the reading was altered in some mss of ÓH. — [4] fár hyggr of mik sáran ‘few think about me, wounded’: The line may possibly be understood as a gloss on rauðum ‘red’, the import being ‘(I am red because) I am wounded, though some may not have noticed’. — [5, 6] mér; morðvenjanda ‘to me; the killing-accustomed one’: Morðvenjandi is lit. ‘one who becomes accustomed to killing’, here in the sense of a man who is hard on gold because liberal with it. Both words are dat. (-venjanda by emendation), and both refer to Þormóðr. Skj B reverses their syntactic functions, construing the former with svíða ‘cause pain’ and the latter with veldr ‘is the cause’: see also Finnur Jónsson (1924a, 323-4), and cf. NN §714. If venjandi is retained, it must be regarded as vocative (though that produces no very good sense), and it is probably for that reason that Snorri in Hkr describes Þormóðr here as replying to someone other than the woman binding wounds, who is mentioned also in Hkr (see Finnur Jónsson 1932-3). — [5, 6] meldrar Fenju ‘of the flour of Fenja [GOLD]’: For the legend behind this gold-kenning, see Note to Eyv Lv 8/5-7.  — [7] ok danskra vápna ‘and of Danish weapons’: The phrase forms, with Dags ‘of Dagr’, the cpd determinant of a battle-kenning. Danskra ‘Danish’ could constitute evidence that Danes fought against Óláfr in the battle (so Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 78), or only that Óláfr’s opponents had assistance from Knútr, on whose behalf the king’s opponents fought (so Gordon 1957, 240). Kock’s danska (vápna) ‘of Danish (weapons)’ (Skald; NN §714) may be an error, since danska is not in any ms. and gen. pl. -ra would be expected; and cf. NN §1991 anm. 2. — [8] hríðar Dags ‘of the blizzard of Dagr <legendary king> [BATTLE]’: Finnur Jónsson (1932-3) and Gordon (1957, 239) take this to be a reference to Dagr Hringsson (see Lv 22), as this is apparently how Snorri understood it, for twice he refers to the fiercest part of the battle as Dagshríð (hríð being a phase in a battle), in the context of narrating Dagr’s manoeuvres (ÍF 27, 386, 389). This is implausible, for hríðar Dags would appear to be a normal heroic kenning, and Þormóðr can hardly mean that he was wounded in a shower of missiles launched by one of the leaders on the king’s (and his own) side. Von See (1977b, 467-71) shows that this misunderstanding of the helmingr was already common by Snorri’s day. ÍF 27, 391 n. accepts Snorri’s testimony about Dagshríð but, recognizing the improbability that the term could then have been used by Þormóðr, adopts the unlikely reading dals hríðar ‘bow’s blizzard’ from (cf. dal- in Holm2). — [8] svíða ‘cause pain’: According to Fbr, Þormóðr died before pronouncing this final word, which was supplied by Haraldr Sigurðarson (see Note to Lv 22/1). This is why the word is missing in most Fbr mss.

© 2008-