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Þorleifr jarlsskáld Rauðfeldarson (Þjsk)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Kate Heslop;

I. 4. Lausavísur (Lv) - 7

Þorleifr jarlsskáld ‘Jarl’s poet’ (Þjsk), son of Ásgeirr rauðfeldr ‘Red-cloak’, was born at Brekka in Svarfaðardalur in northern Iceland in the mid to late tenth century, and must have been alive c. 970-c. 995. It is impossible to be more definite about his dates as neither Svarfdœla saga nor Þorleifs þáttr jarlaskálds (ÞorlJ) in Flat, the only narrative sources, has a consistent chronology (ÍF 9, xcii, xcvii). Many sources mention Þorleifr as a skald: Ldn (ÍF 1, 254), both versions of Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266), Sneglu-Halla þáttr (ÍF 9, 285-6), ÓTOdd (ÍF 25, 191), and HaukrV Ísldr 18IV. Some stanzas are attributed to Þorleifr in Hkr, ÓT, TGT and FoGT, but the bulk of the poetry attributed to him and almost all the biographical information about him is preserved only in ÞorlJ (ÍF 9, 312-29).

According to ÞorlJ, Þorleifr flees Iceland for Norway as a young man, but soon leaves for Denmark after a dispute over trading rights ends with Hákon jarl Sigurðarson burning his ship and executing his crew (Lv 5). He is said to have composed a forty-stanza encomium for King Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ of Denmark (Drápa about Sveinn tjúguskegg; Sveindr), but only the stef ‘refrain’ is extant. While staying with Sveinn, he visits Norway and gets his revenge on Hákon by performing a níð poem (Jarlsníð; Jarl) which causes the jarl’s hair to fall out; one stanza is cited in ÞorlJ. After this Sveinn gives Þorleifr his byname, jarlaskáld ‘Jarls’ poet’ and speaks a stanza about the níð (Svtjúg Lv). However, the þáttr’s use of the genitive plural jarla ‘of jarls’ may be incorrect, for TGT calls him jarlsskáld ‘Jarl’s poet’, Skáldatal lists him as a skald of Hákon but not Eiríkr (and the U version calls him ‘Hákonarskáld’), and Þorleifr is not known to have composed poetry about any other jarl (Nj 1875-8, II, 283-4; ÍF 9, xcvii n. 1; see Almqvist 1965-74, I, 197 for a contrary view). The names of poet and þáttr therefore appear with alternation of jarls- and jarla- in printed sources, and the present edition uses jarls- for the poet and jarla- for the þáttr. Þorleifr subsequently returns to Iceland and settles at Höfðabrekka in Myrdalur in the south of the country. He is, according to ÞorlJ, assassinated at the Alþingi by an enchanted wooden golem, a trémaðr with a man’s heart which Hákon has created with the help of his tutelary goddesses, Þorgerðr Hǫlgabrúðr and Irpa (cf. Lv 6). Þorleifr’s burial mound at Þingvellir is said to have still been visible at the time the þáttr was composed, probably in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century (Harris 1993, 672). Much of this narrative is clearly fictional, and there is reason to suspect the genuineness of most of the stanzas attributed to Þorleifr in ÞorlJ (see Notes to Sveindr and Lv 5 and 6). However, widespread references in reliable sources put Þorleifr’s activity as a skald, his association with Hákon, and his composition of níð about the jarl beyond doubt.

Lausavísur — Þjsk LvI

Kate Heslop 2012, ‘ Þorleifr jarlsskáld Rauðfeldarson, 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. 375. <> (accessed 2 December 2021)

stanzas:  1a   1b   2   3   4   5   6 

Skj: Þórleifr jarlsskáld Rauðfeldarson: 4. Lausavísur (AI, 142-3, BI, 133-4)

in texts: Flat, Ldn, Svarfd, ÞorlJ

SkP info: I, 375

notes: 1 Ldn; 2-4 Svarfd; 5-6 ThorlJ.

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


Note: The following transcriptions have been entered to aid the editing process. These may not have been fully reviewed and checked and may therefore not be reliable. You may wish to consult the manuscript images. Any corrections can be notified to the database editor.

1a. 161x - 23v/6-23v/8
Belg hjo fyrer mier bauggver sna | uggvann  enn fyrer Olafe ꜳl ok verio. Suo skal verda ef vær lifum | b. vid baul buinn bauggver hauggvinn.
1b. Stx - 47v/1-47v/3 (VEÞ)
Belg hio fyrer mer boɢvir snoɢvaɴ eɴ fyrer Olafi al ok | veriu suo skal verda ef vær lifum vid baul buiɴ bauɢvir | hauɢvir·
Hb - 5r/8-5r/9 (VEÞ)
Belg hio fyrir mer boɢvir snoɢvan en fyrir olafi ál ok veriv sva skal verða ef | ver lifvm v bol bvin boɢvir hoɢvin
105x - 48v/9-48v/11 (VEÞ)
Belg hio fyrir mer | boɢvir snoɢvan enn fyrir Olafi al ok veriu sva skal verda | ef ver lifum vid bol buin boɢvir hoɢvinn.
Skx - 60r/3-60r/10 (VEÞ)
Belg hio fyrir mer | Boɢver snoɢvan | enn fyrir Olafe | al oc veriu | sva skal verða | ef ver Lifum | v bǫl buinn | boɢver hoɢvinn |
Þb106x - 27v/14-27v/15 (VEÞ)
Belg hio fýrer mier (boggnir snógguan  enn fýrer Olafe Ꜳl og veriu so skal | verda ef uier lifum  uid ból buinn  bóggnir hogguinn.
2. 161x - 24r/14-24r/17
Raud ek ꜳ ʀanda gædi rit orms sakar vite | meidur i malma þidri mens tok sverd at greina suo at hætliga | j hringa huit sol ara fitiar felli gudur medal fialla fetils traulli | hlod ek þollr.
3. 445c II - 1r/11-1r/12
Kuedat sendir mik mundu· mundhurs ʀekazt vndan dygur er sa er drygt man eggia· dolgr | mín ʀuní sína ok baudʀeyndan brandí· blodorm vm knæ godann· hræfa gifurs med hreifum · heggr ok bitur ꜳ skegg
161x - 24v/28-24v/30
Kuedar sendir migh mundu mvnd hýrr rekaz vndan  dyggur sa | er hýggur mvn eggia dőlgur min runi sina ok blodreyndan branndi | blodorm vmm kne gődan hfa gifurs med hreifum heggr j bur ꜳ Skeggi· ||
4. 445c II - 1r/13-1r/14
Hier sit ek ok huet huassan hlymbrand joru ʀandar medan ovínir vorir os leidir þat mat reidar· eigum bernsligt badir blos þat | [...] nytur solar os hlægir þat æigi wt vm hellis skuta·
161x - 25r/1-25r/3
hier svik ok huetk huassann hlym brannd joru rannda | medann vviner orir oss leidar matveidar. eigum bernskligt bꜳder, bol þad | er litt nýtur sőlar. oss hlæger þad ei vt vmm hellis skvta.
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated