Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorleikr fagri (Þfagr)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Flokkr about Sveinn Úlfsson (Sveinn) - 10

Skj info: Þórleikr fagri, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 396-9, BI, 365-8).

Skj poems:
En flokk om Sven Ulfssön
En flokk om Sven Ulfssön 11-13

Þorleikr’s background is unknown. In 1051 he travelled from Iceland via Norway to Denmark to present a poem to Sveinn Úlfsson (ÍF 28, 113; ÍF 29, 253; Mork 1928-32, 161; Flat 1860-8, III, 338; Fms 6, 256). Both his name and his nickname fagri ‘the Fair’ indicate that he may have come from the family of the Laxdœlir (see Genealogy IIIa in ÍF 5; SnE 1848-87, III, 737-9; LH 1894-1901, I, 641-2). Þorleikr was a rather common name among the Laxdœlir (e.g. Þorleikr Hǫskuldsson and Þorleikr Bollason), and members of that family, such as Hǫskuldr Dala-Kollsson, Óláfr pá ‘Peacock’ Hǫskuldsson and Hallgerðr Hǫskuldsdóttir, were admired for their beauty (see ÍF 5, 14, 27; ÍF 12, 6-7). Þorleikr is listed in Skáldatal as one of the poets who eulogised Sveinn Úlfsson, and it is not said that he composed about any other dignitary or ruler (see SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267, 283).

Flokkr about Sveinn Úlfsson — Þfagr SveinnII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þorleikr fagri, Flokkr about Sveinn Úlfsson’ 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. 313-22.

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Skj: Þórleikr fagri: En flokk om Sven Ulfssön, 1051 (AI, 396-9, BI, 365-8); stanzas (if different): 11 | 12 | 13

in texts: Flat, Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, HSig, Knýtl, MH, Mork

SkP info: II, 313-22

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Fúrsendir vann fjǫndum
fjǫrspell í gný hjǫrva
(brôð fekk hrafn fyr Heiða-)
haukstorða (-bœ norðan).
Rôkusk Vinðr, en vákar
vals ginu þar und halsa,
— dauðr lá herr á heiði
hundmargr — fáir undan.
The distributor of the fire of hawk-lands [(lit. ‘the fire-distributor of hawk-lands’) ARMS > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] inflicted death on enemies in the din of swords [BATTLE]; the raven got meat north of Hedeby. Few Wends got away, and the buzzard-hawks of the slain [RAVENS/EAGLES] gaped beneath necks there; a tremendously large host lay dead on the heath.
2 Vôn erumk vísa kœnum
vígs á Rakna stígu,
ǫrr í odda snerru
Innþrœnda lið finni.
Þó má enn, hvárr annan
ǫndu nemr eða lǫndum,
— lítt hyggr Sveinn á sáttir
sjaldfestar — goð valda.
I believe there is an expectation of battle for the wise ruler on Rakni’s <sea-king’s> paths [SEA], [and that] the brave one will meet the host of Innþrœndir in the onslaught of spear-points [BATTLE]. Yet God can decide again which one will deprive the other of life or lands; Sveinn cares little for shaky agreements.
3 Fœrir reiðr, sás rauða
rǫnd hefr opt fyr lǫndum,
breið á Buðla slóðir
borðraukn Haraldr norðan.
En lauks of sæ sœkja
Sveins fagrdrifin steini
glæsidýr, þess’s geira,
gullmunnuð, rýðr, sunnan.
The enraged Haraldr, who frequently raises the red shield-rim off the shores, steers the broad draught-animals [SHIPS] of the ship-board from the north onto Buðli’s <sea-king’s> trails [SEA]. And the gold-mouthed splendid beasts of the mast [SHIPS] of Sveinn, who reddens spears, advance from the south across the sea, beautifully covered with colour.
4 Fjǫrs man flestum hersi
fengsæll Dana þengill
— reiðr hefr hann fyr hauðri
hábrynjuð skip — synja,
ef húnferils hreina
hlunntamðra rekr sunnan
við Hǫrða gram harðan
hundruð sex til fundar.
The booty-blessed lord of the Danes [DANISH KING = Sveinn] may deny life to most hersar—enraged, he has armoured ships before the land—, if he steers six hundred roller-tamed reindeer of the mast-top track [SEA > SHIPS] from the south to the encounter with the harsh ruler of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr].
5 Stýrir Ulfs til Elfar
óskmǫgr skipum fǫgrum,
sás hrækǫstu hæsta
hleðr í Gunnar veðri.
Skolla vé, þars vǫllu
vápnlauðri drífr rauðu,
(regn drepr Gauts í gǫgnum)
gullmerk*ð (Hôolfs serki).
Úlfr’s beloved son [= Sveinn], who stacks the highest corpse-piles in the storm of Gunnr <valkyrie> [BATTLE], steers fair ships to the Götaälv. Gold-embroidered banners flutter where red weapon-foam [BLOOD] covers the fields; the rain of Gautr <= Óðinn> [ARROWS] hammers through Hálfr’s <legendary king’s> shirts [BYRNIES].
6 Hvé hefr til Heiðabœjar
heiptgjarn konungr arnat,
folk-Rǫgnir getr fregna
fylkis sveit, hinns veitat,
þás til þengils bœjar
þarflaust Haraldr austan
ár, þats ôn of væri,
endr byrskíðum renndi.
That battle-Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> [WARRIOR] who does not know can ask the ruler’s troop how the war-eager king travelled to Hedeby, when Haraldr once sent the skis of fair wind [SHIPS] without due cause from the east to the lord’s town that year, which never should have been.
7 Bauð, sás beztrar tíðar
borinn varð und miðgarði,
ríkri þjóð at rjóða
randir Sveinn á landi.
Þó lézk heldr, ef heldi
hvatráðr konungr láði,
á byrjar Val berjask
bilstyggr Haraldr vilja.
Sveinn, who was born at the luckiest time on earth, told the powerful people to redden shield-rims ashore. Yet hesitation-shy Haraldr said he preferred to fight on the Valr <horse> of fair wind [SHIP], if the quick-witted king withheld land [from him].
8 Allt of frák, hvé elti
austmenn á veg flausta
Sveinn, þás siklingr annarr,
snarlundaðr, helt undan.
Fengr varð Þrœnda þengils
— þeir léttu skip fleiri —
allr á éli sollnu
Jótlandshafi fljóta.
I heard it all, how quick-tempered Sveinn pursued the Norwegians on the path of ships [SEA], when the other prince steered away. All the loot of the lord of the Þrœndir [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr] had to float on the hail-swollen Kattegat; they emptied more ships [of their cargo].
9 Sætt buðu seggja dróttni
siklings vinir mikla;
svǫfðu hjaldr, þeirs hǫfðu,
hugstinnir, lið minna.
Ok snarráðir síðan
sókn, es orðum tókusk,
— ǫnd vas ýta kindum
ófǫl — búendr dvǫlðu.
The leader’s friends offered the lord of men [KING = Sveinn] a mighty settlement; the fierce-hearted ones, who had a lesser force, checked the fight. And the quick-witted farmers then prevented the attack when they began to exchange words; life was precious to the progeny of men.
10 Hætt hafa sér, þeirs sóttu
Sveins fundar til, stundum;
lítt hefr þeim at þreyta
þrimr bragningum hagnat.
Þó hefr hauldvinr haldit
— hanns snjallr konungr — allri
Jóta grund með endum
ógnstarkr ok Danmǫrku.
They have frequently put themselves at risk, those who sought an encounter with Sveinn; for those three lords little has been gained by their striving. Yet the friend [KING] of freeholders has held, battle-strong, all the land of the Jótar from border to border and Denmark, too; he is a clever king.
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