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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson (Ólhv)

13th century; volume 2; ed. Lauren Goetting;

III. 2. Fragments (Frag) - 9

Skj info: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld, Islandsk skjald og lærd, d. 1259. (AII, 92-8, BII, 104-10).

Skj poems:
1. Et digt om kong Hákon
2. Et hrynhent digt
3. Árónsdrápa
4. Af et digt om Thomas Becket
5. Lausavísur

prose works

Óláfr hvítaskáld ‘White Skald’ Þórðarson (Ólhv) was an accomplished Icel. scholar and a prolific poet. Details of his life are documented in Sturlunga saga (Stu), Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (Hák), and Knýtlinga saga (Knýtl). He was born c. 1210-12 at Staður on Snæfellsness, Iceland, as the eldest son of Þórðr Sturluson and his concubine Þóra. He was the nephew of Snorri Sturluson (SnSt; d. 1241), with whom he spent long periods of time as a young man, and the older brother of Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl; d. 1284). In 1237 he left Iceland with Snorri to embark upon a career as a professional poet at the courts of Scandinavia. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256-8, 260, 378-84) Óláfr composed poetry in honour of a large number of kings and noblemen, including the following: (in Norway) Jarl Skúli Bárðarson (d. 1240), King Hákon Hákonarson (d. 1263) and his son Hákon ungi ‘the Young’ Hákonarson (d. 1257), Jarl Knútr Hákonarson (d. 1261); (in Sweden) King Eiríkr Eiríkson (d. 1250); (in Denmark) King Valdimarr Valdimarsson (d. 1241). Because of Óláfr’s close association with Valdimarr, from whom he hafði ... margar ágætligar frásagnir ‘got ... many excellent narratives’ (ÍF 35, 315), he is thought by some to have written Knýtl, which recounts the history of Dan. rulers (see LH 1894-1901, II, 275, 784-5). Around 1242 Óláfr returned to Iceland and founded a school at Stafaholt in Borgarfjörður, where he wrote the Third Grammatical Treatise (TGT) and devoted himself to teaching and writing until his death in 1259. In addition to these pursuits, he was ordained subdeacon at some point after his return to Iceland and also served as lawspeaker 1248-50.

Most of Óláfr’s extant poetry consists of encomia to King Hákon Hákonarson and is inserted throughout the prose in Hák. This includes part of Hrynhenda (Ólhv Hryn), one st. from a Poem about Hákon (Ólhv Hák), and two lvv. (Ólhv Lv). One lv. traditionally assigned to him, has been reassigned in the present edn to Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson (Ólsv Love 3III). Aside from the aforementioned, the remainder of Óláfr’s known poetic works includes two sts from ÁrónsdrápaDrápa about Árón’ (Ólhv ÁrdrIV), composed about his friend Árón Hjǫrleifsson, and two sts from ThómasdrápaDrápa about Thomas (ꜳ Becket)’ (Ólhv ThómdrIII), recorded in the Fourth Grammatical Treatise (FoGT). Finally, nine fragments of sts from TGT (Ólhv FragIII), treated as anonymous in previous eds, are attributed to Óláfr in this edn.

Fragments — Ólhv FragIII

Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 302.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 

SkP info: III, 303

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Ólhv Frag 2III

also: Anonymous Poems, Kviðuháttr verses in praise of a Norwegian ruler 1

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Tarrin Wills (ed.) 2017, ‘Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Fragments 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 303.

Þat hefk sagt,
es sjálfr vissak;
dulðr ferk hins,
es drengr þegir.

Þat hefk sagt, es vissak sjálfr; ferk dulðr hins, es drengr þegir.

I have said what I knew myself; I am ignorant of what the man is [I am] silent about.

Mss: A(5r), W(104) (TGT)

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XII], C. Vers om ubestemmelige personer og begivenheder 39: AI, 601, BI, 601, Skald I, 293; SnE 1818, 318, SnE 1848, 187, SnE 1848-87, II, 124-5, 413, TGT 1884, 19, 81, 192, TGT 1927, 57, 98.

Context: Cited as an example of perissologia, that is, the superfluous addition of words, here in the repetition of the general point of the first couplet in the second (TGT 1927, 57): Hér þarf ekki hit síðarra mál, þvíat þat má skilja, ef maðr segir þat, er hann veit, at hann þegir yfir því, er hann veit eigi ‘Here the last clause is not needed because it may be understood that if a man says what he knows, he will be silent about what he does not know’.

Notes: [All]: The attribution to Óláfr is based on the similarity to this stanza with the corresponding example in Donatus (Keil 1855-80, IV, 395), ibant qua poterant, qua non poterant non ibant ‘they went wherever they could; where they could not, they did not go’. The examples are close in their structure, although the Old Norse version is adapted for what may be a closing stanza to a kviðuháttr poem. This is one of a number of unattributed kviðuháttr fragments of one or more poems. See Anon (TGT) 13, Note to [All] for related stanzas.

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