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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 The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.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, 843

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

25 — Þorm Lv 25I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 25’ 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. 843.

Undrask ǫglis landa
eik, hví vér róm bleikir;
fár verðr fagr af sôrum;
fannk ǫrva drif, svanni.
Mik fló malmr inn døkkvi
magni keyrðr í gǫgnum;
hvasst beit hjarta it næsta
hættligt járn, es vættik.

{Eik {landa ǫglis}} undrask, hví vér róm bleikir; fár verðr fagr af sôrum; fannk {drif ǫrva}, svanni. Inn døkkvi malmr, keyrðr magni, fló í gǫgnum mik; hættligt járn beit hvasst it næsta hjarta, es vættik.

{The oak {of the lands of the hawk}} [ARMS > WOMAN] wonders why we are [I am] pale; few grow handsome from wounds; I met {a blizzard of arrows} [BATTLE], lady. The dark metal, driven with might, flew through me; the dangerous iron bit sharply next to the heart, I expect.

Mss: Holm2(69v), 972ˣ(542va), J2ˣ(229v), 321ˣ(262), 73aˣ(204v-205r), Holm4(65rb), 61(126vb), 325V(82vb-83ra), 325VII(39r), Bb(200va), Flat(126ra), Tóm(157r) (ÓH); Kˣ(476r-v) (Hkr); DG8(102r) (ÓHLeg); 142ˣ(106), 566aˣ(31r), papp4ˣ(130r) (Fbr); 761bˣ(548r marg)

Readings: [1] Undrask: undrar DG8;    ǫglis: ‘æglis’ 325VII, DG8, ‘eyglis’ Kˣ;    landa: kindar DG8    [2] hví: at J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 325V, 325VII, Bb, DG8, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, ‘hv[…]’ 61, þvít Tóm, papp4ˣ;    vér róm: vér sém J2ˣ, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, DG8, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, papp4ˣ, 761bˣmarg    [3] fár: fáar papp4ˣ;    fagr: so 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, Holm4, 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, Kˣ, DG8, 142ˣ, 566aˣ, papp4ˣ, 761bˣmarg, ‘fadr’ Holm2    [4] fannk (‘fann ec’): ‘fann el’ 321ˣ;    ǫrva: ‘aufa’ 321ˣ    [5] Mik: ‘mk’ 61;    fló: flaug DG8;    malmr inn: ‘malrínn’ Tóm;    døkkvi: ‘deykcvi’ Holm2, kløkkvi Kˣ    [6] magni: megni 972ˣ, 73aˣ, ‘magin’ 321ˣ;    keyrðr: ‘ke[…]rðr’ 61, ‘kǫrðr’ Kˣ    [7] hvasst: ‘huazt’ 73aˣ;    beit: beitt Bb, Tóm;    hjarta it: ‘híarta :t’ Holm4, hjartat 61, Flat, Tóm, DG8, papp4ˣ    [8] járn: so J2ˣ, 73aˣ, Holm4, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, Kˣ, DG8, 142ˣ, papp4ˣ, 761bˣmarg, om. Holm2, ‘j[…]’ 61, sár 566aˣ;    es (‘er’): om. Tóm;    vættik (‘ec vætti’): ek mætti 972ˣ, ek veitti Holm4, ek ætla Flat, ek vænti DG8, eg vætta papp4ˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld, 2. Lausavísur 25: AI, 288, BI, 266, Skald I, 137; Fms 5, 92, Fms 12, 103, ÓH 1941, I, 585 (ch. 234), Flat 1860-8, II, 365; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 377, VI, 115, Hkr 1868, 498 (ÓHHkr ch. 247), Hkr 1893-1901, I, 502-3, IV, 172, ÍF 27, 392, Hkr 1991, II, 539 (ÓHHkr ch. 234); ÓHLeg 1849, 73, 120, ÓHLeg 1922, 88, ÓHLeg 1982, 202-5; Fbr 1925-7, 231, ÍF 6, 274 (ch. 24), Loth 1960a, li, 157-8 (ch. 17), ÍS II, 843, 850 (ch. 24); Gaertner 1907, 312, 347-8, Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 79.

Context: In ÓH, excluding Flat, and Hkr, a woman tending wounds asks Þormóðr why he is so pale. In Flat, he asserts that he is hardly injured, and a woman offering milk asks why he is so pale if he is largely unscathed. In ÓHLeg, a woman bearing wood throws down her burden when she sees Þormóðr and declares that the dead walk. He denies being dead, and we are told that he has a spot on his nose. In Fbr, a woman in charge of water for the wounded asks why he is so pale and whether he is not in some difficulty. In Fbr and ÓHLeg (as well as in Flat), this stanza precedes Lv 24; in ÓH it follows. (See the discussion in the Introduction.) In ÓHLeg, ÓH and Hkr Þormóðr dies soon after delivering this stanza.

Notes: [2] vér róm ‘we are [I am]’: On this syncopated form of vér erum, see ANG §158 Anm. 2. — [4] svanni ‘lady’: Finnur Jónsson (1932-3) rightly observes that the vocative form could belong to either the second or the third clause. — [5] døkkvi ‘dark’: The reading kløkkvi ‘malleable’ of (alone) is not likely to be correct, and may be a result of misreading <d> as <cl>. At all events, the contrast of døkkvi with bleikir ‘pale’ makes for a superior reading. — [7] hvasst ‘sharply’: Ulset (1975, 93) takes this as an adj. qualifying jarn ‘iron’, while noting the possibility of an adv. — [8] es vættik ‘I expect’: Lit. ‘as I expect’. Gaertner (1907, 348) suggests that the meaning may be ‘I hope’, given that Þormóðr did not want to outlive Óláfr.

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