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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Svartr á Hofstöðum (Svart)

volume 8; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

VIII. Skaufhala bálkr (Skauf) - 42

not in Skj

Svartr (desyllabified Svartur) á Hofstöðum (Svart) is named in a first-person epilogue to Skaufhala bálkrBálkr about Tassel-tail’ (Svart Skauf 42/4) but his identity is uncertain. The internal evidence of the language and metre of Skauf, together with circumstantial evidence and an evaluation of the sources, point to Svartr Þorleifsson (d. 1392) from Hofstaðir, Reykhólar, Þorskafjörður, north-western Iceland, as the most likely candidate, though two other members of his family were also named Svartr and associated with Hofstaðir and there are two further traditions about authorship (see Introduction to Skauf). Very little is known about Svartr’s life. He appears to have been severely wounded during a fight at the alþingi in 1361, and the year before he died (1391) he went to Norway (see Storm 1888, 367, 407, 420). He apparently had two sons, Páll and Gísli (Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 222).

Skaufhala bálkr — Svart SkaufVIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Svartr á Hofstöðum, Skaufhala bálkr’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 948. <> (accessed 27 May 2022)

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SkP info: VIII, 975

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

30 — Svart Skauf 30VIII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Svartr á Hofstöðum, Skaufhala bálkr 30’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 975.

Hef eg margan heldr         hála feitan
sauð snarliga         sviftan lífi,
tínt kiðlinga,         en týnt lambgymbrum,
gripið geldinga         og gamalrollur.

‘Eg hef heldr snarliga sviftan margan hála feitan sauð lífi, tínt kiðlinga, en týnt lambgymbrum, gripið geldinga og gamalrollur.

‘I’ve rather swiftly deprived many a splendidly fat sheep of its life, picked lambs and killed young ewes, seized castrated rams and old feeble ewes.

Mss: 603(82), Rask87ˣ(114v)

Readings: [1] Hef eg (‘Hefc’): Hefi eg Rask87ˣ    [2] hála: harð‑ Rask87ˣ    [3] snarliga: so Rask87ˣ, sierliga 603    [5] tínt: týnt Rask87ˣ    [6] en týnt lambgymbrum: en sæft lambgymbrar Rask87ˣ    [8] ‑rollur: ‘rottur’ Rask87ˣ

Editions: Kölbing 1876, 245, Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 233, CPB II, 384, Jón Þorkelsson 1922-7, 158, Páll Eggert Ólason 1947, 66.

Notes: [All]: The second part of the fox’s ‘life-poem’ (sts 30-40) gives an overview of his life and his impending death from the wounds he received. — [1] eg hef ‘I’ve’: Rendered in 603 as ‘Hefc’. This is a highly unusual abbreviation, because the personal pron. eg ‘I’ is otherwise spelled out ‘eg’ or abbreviated as ‘ec’. The only explanation seems to be that the C16th scribe was copying an earlier ms. in which the ‘ec’ was cliticised (‘Hefc’) and that he did not understand the form (pers. comm. Kirsten Wolf). That contraction is early and speaks strongly against a late C15th date for this poem (see Introduction above). The Rask87ˣ variant hefi eg (here and passim) is also possible (see ANG §532.6 and Bandle 1956, 421). Hef is an early form and rare both in the C14th and C15th (see Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, 53, 64). See also Note to st. 37/5. — [2] hála feitan ‘splendidly fat’: Kölbing (1876, followed by CPB) construes the 603 reading as halafeitan ‘tail-fat’, while Jón Þorkelsson (1888; 1922-7) opts for the Rask87ˣ variant harðfeitan ‘very fat’. Both of these readings are hypometrical. Páll Eggert Ólason (1947)  renders ll. 1-2 as follows: Hef eg margan | heldr harðfeitan which is also unmetrical (two alliterating staves in the even line). For the adv. hála ‘splendidly’ modifying adjectives, see LP: hôla. — [3] snarliga ‘swiftly’: So Rask87ˣ (adopted by Jón Þorkelsson 1888; 1922-7 and Páll Eggert Ólason 1947). Sierliga ‘individually’ (603) is possible, but somewhat awkward in the context. — [5] tínt ‘picked’: Týnt ‘killed’ (Rask87ˣ) looks like a lectio facilior, possibly from an original týnt in the next line (see Note to l. 6). — [6] týnt ‘killed’: Sæft ‘killed’ (Rask87ˣ) leaves the line without alliteration, and it looks as though a scribe replaced týnt with sæft to avoid verbal repetition (see Note to l. 5). — [6] lambgymbrum ‘young ewes’: These are ewe lambs in their first winter, i.e. half-a-year to a year old (cf. ModEngl. dialects gimmer; OED: gimmer, n.2). — [8] gamalrollur ‘old feeble ewes’: I.e. old scruffy-looking ewes with thin wool and loose teeth.

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