Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl)

13th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

3. Hrafnsmál (Hrafn) - 20

Skj info: Sturla Þórðarson, Islandsk skjald og historiker, 1214-84 (AII, 101-29, BII, 112-36).

Skj poems:
1. Þverárvísur
2. Þorgilsdrápa
3. Hrynhenda
4. Hákonarkviða
5. Hrafnsmál
6. Hákonarflokkr
7. En drape om Magnús lagaböter
8. Lausavísur

The life of Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl) is chronicled in Sturlunga saga (Stu). He was born on 29 July 1214 as the second son of Þórðr Sturluson and his concubine Þóra, and he was the younger brother of Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson (Ólhv). In his early years he spent much time with his uncle, the poet, historian and lawspeaker Snorri Sturluson (SnSt, d. 1241), and later he took an active part in the events that played out before and after the collapse of the Icel. Commonwealth. Sturla was lawspeaker in Iceland 1251-2 and lawman, appointed by the Norw. king, 1272-82. In 1263 he went to Norway where he met King Magnús lagabœtir ‘Law-mender’ Hákonarson (d. 1280). After an initially very cool reception, the king commissioned him to write the saga of Magnús’s father Hákon Hákonarson (d. 1264) and also that of Magnús himself. Sturla later became the retainer (hirðmaðr, skutilsveinn) of Magnús and brought the law code Járnsíða ‘Ironside’ from Norway to Iceland in 1271. The story of Sturla’s journey to Norway in 1263 and his dealings with Magnús is recounted in Sturlu þáttr (StÞ), preserved in a version of Stu. In addition to the sagas of Hákon Hákonarson (Hák) and the no longer extant saga of his son Magnús lagabœtir (only two leaves are preserved in AM 325 X 4°), Sturla is the author of Íslendinga saga (Ísls) and of a redaction of Landnámabók (Ldn, in AM 107 folˣ = Stˣ). Some scholars believe that he may have been responsible for the extant redaction of Kristni saga (Kristni) (see LH 1894-1901, II, 98-105, 717-43), and he is also mentioned as an informant by the author of Grettis saga Ásmundarsonar (Gr; see ÍF 7, 157, 226, 289). Like his uncle, Snorri, and his brother, Óláfr, Sturla was a prolific poet. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 260, 272, 279, 384-96), he composed poems in honour of the Norw. kings Hákon Hákonarson and Magnús lagabœtir Hákonarson, and also about the Swed. jarl Birgir Magnússon (d. 1266). Nothing is preserved of Sturla’s panegyrics to the latter, but two sts from his poetry to Magnús are recorded in Hák (see Magnússdrápa (Sturl Magndr) below). The bulk of Sturla’s poetic oeuvre about Hákon Hákonarson is interspersed with the prose in Hák: Hrynhenda (Sturl Hryn), Hákonarkviða (Sturl Hákkv), Hrafnsmál (Sturl Hrafn) and Hákonarflokkr (Sturl Hákfl). In addition to these encomia, Sturla composed poetry about events and dignitaries in Iceland: namely Þverárvísur (Sturl ÞvervIV) and Þorgilsdrápa (Sturl ÞorgdrIV), both of which have been edited in SkP IV. That is also the case with his lvv. (Sturl Lv 1-4IV). One fragment which earlier eds assigned to Hryn (earlier st. 22) has been edited in SkP III as Sturl FragIII. Sturla died on 30 July 1284 and was buried in the Church of S. Peter at Staðarhóll.

Hrafnsmál — Sturl HrafnII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Sturla Þórðarson, Hrafnsmál’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 727-45.

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Skj: Sturla Þórðarson: 5. Hrafnsmál (AII, 119-24, BII, 126-31)

in texts: Flat, Hák

SkP info: II, 727-45

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Sóttu sóknhvattar
sveitir háleitan
geira glymstæri
glyggs ór Finnbygðum.
Alt brá jarðbeltis
austan sigrflaustum
gjálfr af Gautelfi
gætis hásæta.
Battle-keen companies sought the sublime din-increaser of the storm of spears [BATTLE > WARRIOR] from the settlements of the Saami. The surge of the earth-belt [SEA] drove the victory-vessels of the guardian of rowing-benches [CAPTAIN] all the way west from the Götaälv.
2 Øngr sá ormvengis
ótti vígdróttir
fleiri flugstæris
fleins í stað einum.
Lukði lómblekkir
landa útstrandir
hríðar herskíðum
harðr ok randgarði.
No terror of the snake-meadow [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] saw more fighting-troops of an increaser of the spear’s flight [(lit. ‘of a flight-increaser of the spear’) BATTLE > WARRIOR] in one place. The harsh deceit-destroyer [JUST RULER] enclosed the outer shores of the lands with the army-skis of the sea [SHIPS] and the shield-fence.
3 Glumði á gjálfrtömðum
Gestils skeiðhestum
eldr of allvaldi
ægis nafnfrægjum.
Skein af skautvænum
skeiðum brimreiðar
sól of sigdeili
snotrum óþrotlig.
The fire of the ocean [GOLD] resounded on the surge-tamed horses of Gestill’s <sea-king’s> track [(lit. ‘track-horses of Gestill’) SEA > SHIPS] above the renowned mighty ruler. The unceasing sun of the surf-chariot [SHIP > SHIELD] shone from the sail-fair warships around the wise battle-distributor [WARRIOR].
4 Laust af liðföstum
ljósum valdrósar
brims á bjarthimna
blómum vegljóma.
Ferð var friðskerðis
flokka áþokkuð
heims of hafstrauma
hringa eldingum.
Gleams of the glory-flash of the surf [GOLD] shot towards the bright heavens from the staunch leaves of the slaughter-woman [VALKYRIE > SHIELDS]. The voyage of the companies of the peace-diminisher of rings [GENEROUS MAN] across the sea-currents was like lightning of [this] world.
5 Leysti lögrastar
landa stýrandi
— heldu of haf aldir
húfum — bládúfur.
Lýstiz hrein hæstum
höfn af skipstöfnum
eldi álfoldar
auðar glóðrauðum.
The controller of lands [RULER] launched the dark doves of the water-way [SEA > SHIPS]; men steered the hulls across the sea. The safe harbour was illuminated by the fire of the eel-ground [SEA > GOLD] from the loftiest ship-prows, red-glowing with wealth.
6 Fyst tók fjörleystum
fróðr af Nesþjóðum
gjöld inn griðmildi
gætir norðsætra.
Öll var ógnfallin
öld af stórvöldum
hrædd við herklæddan
herði böðgerðar.
First the wise protector of the northern settlements [NORWEGIAN KING = Hákon], the one generous with peace, took payments from the Ness-people who ransomed their lives. All men were terror-struck by the supreme power, afraid of the war-clad strengthener of battle [WARRIOR].
7 Helt inn hraðmælti
hringa viðþingaðr
leiðir lögskíðum
leygs í Suðreyjar.
Upp gaf alkeppnum
Engus herfengna
Íl fyr ítrbóla
eyði dalreyðar.
The quick-spoken assembly-convener of swords [WARRIOR] brought the sea-skis [SHIPS] on the paths of the ocean to the Hebrides. Angus surrendered Islay, captured in battle, on account of the very vigorous spoiler of the splendid lair of the valley-char [SNAKE > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN].
8 Stóð af stórráðum
stýri brimdýra
ógn of úrþvegnar
jarðir vestrgarða.
Færðu hjálmhirða
hausa friðlausir
jöfrar ósvifrum
ótta rándróttar.
Awe spread from the imperious controller of surf-animals [SHIPS > SEA-KING] throughout the sea-washed shores of the western settlements. The outlawed princes brought their helmet-protected heads to the relentless terror of the retinue of robbery [JUST RULER].
9 Gengu geðstrangir
gætis vegmæta
sárs of Sátíri
sunnan logrunnar.
Söddu svartklædda
sóknar dynhróka
bragnar byrgegnir
brands á Skotlandi.
The mind-strong bushes of the wound’s flame [(lit. ‘flame-bushes of the wound’) SWORD > WARRIORS] of the keeper of glorious treasures [KING] went from the south across Kintyre. The men, reliable in the fair wind of the sword [(lit. ‘fair-wind reliable of the sword’) BATTLE], sated black-coated din-cormorants of battle [RAVENS] in Scotland.
10 Ferð vann friðskerðis
fræg ok óvægin
Bót af baugnjótum
breiða guðleiðum.
Hreyfðiz hjörklufðu
hrafn of valtafni
— fellu fjandr stillis —
fleygr í Suðreyjum.
The famous and unsparing troop of the peace-diminisher [WARRIOR] captured broad Bute from the godforsaken ring-users [GENEROUS MEN]. The flying raven gloated above the sword-cloven slaughter-food [CORPSES] in the Hebrides; the ruler’s enemies fell.
11 Brunnu búmanna
bygðir ódygðar;
heitr var hafsætrum
hallar lífgalli.
Fellu fleinþollar
feigir svanteigar
suðr af sæskíðum
sóttir herdróttum.
The dwellings of faithless farmers burned; the life-harm of the hall [FIRE] was hot in the sea-settlements. Doomed spear-firs [WARRIORS] fell in the south, attacked by the war-bands of the swan-field [SEA] from the sea-skis [SHIPS].
12 Bauð inn böðfróði
bragna sigrmagnaðr
austan orrostu
optar spjót-Hroptum.
Þorðut þrekstærðan
þegnar ófegnir
bjórs við blikrýri
berjaz útverja.
The war-crafty victory-augmenter of men [WARRIOR = Hákon] from the east often offered battle to the spear-Hroptar <= Óðinn’s> [WARRIORS]. The unhappy warriors did not dare to fight against the powerful diminisher of the flash of the beer of fishing-stations [(lit. ‘flash-diminisher of the beer of fishing-stations’) SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN].
13 Drógu dynsveigis
darra flugskjarrir
báta baugnjótar
breiðar strandleiðir.
Eyddu óhræddir
eyjar geirþeyjum
vegs í víðbygðu*
vatni herskatnar.
The flight-shy ring-users [GENEROUS MEN] of the swayer of the din of spears [(lit. ‘of the din-swayer of spears’) BATTLE > WARRIOR] pulled the boats along the broad beach-paths. The fearless war-men of honour devastated the islands in the widely inhabited lake with spear-winds [BATTLE].
14 Herðu herferðir
hryggs í stórbygðir
víða vargfæðis
virðar geðstirðir.
Fekk inn fólkrakki
felli gunnspelli
öldum ósjaldan
Aleinn lífdvalar.
The mind-strong men intensified military campaigns far and wide in the large settlements of the gloomy wolf-feeder [WARRIOR = Alexander]. The battle-brave Alan gave people not seldom a slayer of life’s duration [DEATH] by battle-destruction.
15 Mætti margfréttinn
miklum framstiklir
auðar óþjóða
inga gjörningum.
Leysti lábrostinn
lögr in skautfögru
flaust ór frónlæstum
festum bauglestis.
The very inquisitive dispenser of wealth [GENEROUS MAN] encountered the mighty sorceries of the king of evildoers [Alexander]. The wave-bursting sea loosened the sail-fair ships of the ring-wounder [GENEROUS MAN] from the land-secured moorings.
16 Blés of böðfúsa
bragna fjölmagnat
hregg á herbygðum
hríðar brimskíðum.
Upp rak alkeppna
öld með herskjöldu
grundar gjálfrs undit
grand at Skotlandi.
The sorcery-strengthened hailstorm blew around the battle-eager men on the troop-inhabited surf-skis of the sea [SHIPS]. The twisted harm of the land of the surge [SEA > STORM] drove the very vigorous crew with war-shields towards [the shores of] Scotland.
17 Sendi snarlynda
sverða blikskerðir
sveit inn sigrmæti
síð til brynhríðar.
Drap í dul greypa
drengja lof þengils,
drótt sá er dal-Gauta
dæmði hersæmða.
The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher [GENEROUS MAN] finally sent a quick-witted company of swords to the byrnie-storm [BATTLE]. The ruler’s praise of the warriors was gravely misplaced, he who deemed the retinue of the bow-Gautar <= Óðinn’s> [WARRIORS] battle-famed.
18 Hlóðu hugprúðir
hrings at brynþingi
várir vegstórum
virðar baug-Nirði.
Fylduz fjörseldum
frammi valgammar
— hverr man hringþverris
hefna — auðstefni.
Our gallant men of the sword killed the honourable ring-Njǫrðr <god> [MAN = Perus] at the byrnie-assembly [BATTLE]. The corpse-buzzards [RAVENS/EAGLES] stuffed themselves in the vanguard with the lifeless wealth-dispenser [GENEROUS MAN]; who will avenge the ring-diminisher [GENEROUS MAN]?
19 Kvöddu kappstudda
kæris Norðmæra
hölða hervalðir
hersar gunnversum.
Gekk in geðrakka
gætis hásæta
hirð at hjörstærðum
hjaldri járnfaldin.
The host-selected hersar of the litigator of the Norðmærir [NORWEGIAN KING = Hákon] greeted the vigour-supported men with battle-verses [BATTLE]. The valiant retinue of the guardian of rowing-benches [CAPTAIN] went iron-hooded to the sword-swelled fight.
20 Beit at brynmóti
brún í rauðtúnum
egg of ódyggvar
aldar gunntjalda,
áðr en egghríðar
undan víglundum
skyndu ský-Þundar
skoskir alþroskins.
The shining sword-edge bit in the red enclosures of battle-tents [SHIELDS > SHIELD-WALLS] around unfaithful men at the byrnie-meeting [BATTLE], before the Scottish Þundar <= Óðinn’s> of the cloud of the edge-storm [(lit. ‘cloud-Þundar of the edge-storm’) BATTLE > SHIELD > WARRIORS] hastened away from the slaughter-trees [WARRIORS] of the very manly one.
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