Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld (Þorm)

11th century; volume 5; ed. R. D. Fulk;

I. Lausavísur (Lv) - 33

Skj info: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld, Islandsk skjald, d. 1030. (AI, 277-88, BI, 256-66).

Skj poems:
1. Þórgeirsdrápa
2. Lausavísur

This edition is currently in preparation. The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.

Þormóðr Bersason’s (Þorm) story is told in Fóstbrœðra saga ‘Saga of the Sworn Brothers’ (Fbr), and on its witness he may be supposed to have been born c. 998 and to have died of a wound received in the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. The saga, however, is untrustworthy as to particulars, as the author seems to have derived most of his information about the poet from the poetry available to him. According to the saga, in childhood he and his friend Þorgeirr Hávarsson each swore that he would avenge the killing of the other if he lived. The latter, at the age of fifteen, avenged the killing of his father, initiating a string of thirteen killings commemorated in Þormóðr’s poem celebrating his sworn brother, ÞorgeirsdrápaDrápa about Þorgeirr’ (Þorgdr). Even though their friendship ended when Þormóðr was about fifteen, Þormóðr travelled to Greenland after Þorgeirr was killed (c. 1024), to take vengeance on the perpetrator Þorgrímr trolli (‘Troll’? see Note to Fbr 29/1) and three of his sons. The poet earned his nickname kolbrúnarskáld ‘Coal-brow’s Poet’ for having composed poetry in praise of Þórbjǫrg kolbrún Glúmsdóttir, though none of these survive (probably for reasons of a moral nature; see Boyer 1990, 80). According to Þormóðar þáttr (Þorm; see Þorm Lv 10-11I) he served King Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great) in Denmark before returning to Norway, where he spent the last part of his short life in the service of the king, Óláfr Haraldsson (S. Óláfr). According to a memorable passage in Hkr, on the morning of the battle of Stiklestad he recited Bjarkamál in fornu (Anon Bjark 1-2III) to rouse the king’s troops. For further biographical information, see Finnur Jónsson (1932-3, 31-3), ÍF 6, lii-lxx and Schach (1993).

Lausavísur — Þorm LvV (Fbr)

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, 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. 820.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25 

cross-references:  17 = Anon (Vǫlsa) 11I 

for reference only:  18x   19x   20x   21x   22x   23x   24x   25x 

Skj: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld: 2. Lausavísur (AI, 281-8, BI, 260-6)

in texts: Fbr, Flat, Gramm, Hkr, ÓH, ÓHHkr, ÓHLeg, ÓHÆ, TGT, Vǫlsa, Þorm, ÞormR

SkP info: I, 820

notes: Verses 10, 11, 15, 17-20, 23-25 in OH (Group A1); others in Fbr (Group D)

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Hrundar bark af hendi
hjaldr — urpum þá skjaldi;
sǫngs hǫfum sár of fengit
siklings — flugu mikla.
Nærgis Hrafns of hefna
hlunns glapvígum runni
umbnýsandi, ós*a
ôrr kyndils, mák sára.
I warded off the commotion of Hrund <valkyrie> [BATTLE], a great attack; then we [I] cast down the shield; I have received a wound of the monarch’s song [BATTLE]. Some day I, looking about [for an opportunity], will be able to avenge my wounds on the maladroit-at-killing bush of the launcher’s Hrafn <legendary horse> [SHIP > SEAFARER = Kolbakr], emissary of the candle of estuaries [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Bersi].
2 Illa réðk, þvís allar
ey-Draupnis gafk meyju
— mér barsk dóms í drauma
dís — Kolbrúnar vísur.
Þá tókk þorna Freyju
— Þrúðr kann mart in prúða;
líknumk heldr við Hildi
hvítings — á mér víti.
I decided badly in that I gave to the maiden of island-Draupnir <mythical ring> [Þórdís] all Kolbrún’s stanzas; the lady of judgement appeared to me in my dreams. Then I took on myself the punishment of the Freyja <goddess> of spikes [WOMAN = Þorbjǫrg]; the stately Þrúðr <goddess> [woman] knows much; I shall rather ask for mercy from the Hildr <valkyrie> of the drinking horn [WOMAN].
3 Þarf, sás þér skal hvarfa,
þengill, fyr kné lengi,
(svarar hógliga hverju)
hugborð (konungr orði).
Fáir erum vér, né frýju,
frændr, órum þó vændir,
— minnumk meir á annat
mitt starf — konungdjarfir.
He who shall pace about long before your knee, sovereign, needs a mind-board [COURAGE]; the king responds mildly to every word. We kinsmen are, few of us, king-bold; neither have we, however, been accused of cowardice; I shall remember more my other work.
4 Betr lézk beita skutli
— Baldr hœlir því skjaldar;
þollr hleypr hart of hellur
hlunnjós — an vér kunna.
Gørr veitk hitt, hveim harri
hugdýrstr skipar fyrstum
— veitti oss, sás átti,
orms torg — í skjaldborgu.
He professed to know better than we [I] how to handle a harpoon; the Baldr <god> of the shield [WARRIOR] boasts of it; the fir of the launcher-stallion [SHIP > SEAFARER] runs hard over rock slabs. I know this better, whom the most splendid-minded lord [King Óláfr] places first in his shield-wall; he who had it gave us [me] the serpent’s market-place [GOLD].
5 Ǫrvendi trezk undir
— opt finnumk þess minni;
ǫll es fremð of fallin
fjǫrnepps í strá — greppi,
ef hreggboða hǫggvit
hefk vart í skǫr svarta
nadda borðs, þvít Nirði
nættings bana vættak.
The left-handedness of the skald <Þormóðr> is trodden down — I often meet reminders of this; all the glory of the short-lived one has fallen into the straw —, if I have hewed poorly into the black hair of the announcer of the storm of the board of points [(lit. ‘storm-announcer of the board of points’) SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Þorgrímr], because I hoped for death for the Njǫrðr <god> of the sword [WARRIOR = Þorgrímr].
6 Undrs, hví eigi kenndu
élbǫrvar mik gǫrva
stáls — hefk mark á máli
mart — ok skopt it svarta.
Burgumk, langt þvít lengra
lífs Tý skapat drífu
þremja svells en þollum
þeim aldrtili seima.
It is a wonder why the trees of the storm of steel [(lit. ‘storm-trees of steel’) BATTLE > WARRIORS] did not readily recognise me and my black hair; I have many a mark in my speech. We were [I was] saved because much longer life is fated for the Týr <god> of the blizzard of the ice of edges [SWORD > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Þormóðr] but a life-ending for those firs of gold [MEN = Þorgrímr’s supporters].
7 Strengði þess á þingi
þrályndr, ef mik fyndi,
hǫlðr, at hǫggva skyldi,
heit, lofgørðar veiti.
Nær stóðk randa rýri;
rekkr lézkat mik þekkja;
gótts, þats hulðar hetti
hefr faldit smiðr stefja.
The obstinate fellow made a vow about this at the assembly, that he should hew down the dispenser of praise [POET = Þormóðr] if he found me. I stood near the destroyer of shields [WARRIOR = Falgeirr]; the warrior pretended not to know me; it’s good that the smith of refrains [POET = Þormóðr] has cloaked himself with a mantle of concealment.
8 Matkak hefnð, en hrafni
hrings fekk brôð á þingi
— Baldrs létk vígi valdit
varga setrs — við marga.
Meir hefni þó þeirra
Þórgeirs vinir fleiri;
gnýþolli létk gjalla;
gǫrt hefk fyr mik svartan.
I was not competing in vengeance with many, but I got meat for the raven at the assembly of the sword [BATTLE]; I caused the killing of the Baldr <god> of the residence of swords [SHIELD > WARRIOR] to be accomplished. However, let more friends avenge Þorgeirr and his men further; I caused [my weapon] to resound for the clamour-fir [WARRIOR]; I, the black[-haired] one, have done my part.
9 Skoptak enn, þás uppi
undarligt á sundi
— hrókr dó heimskr við klæki —
hans razaklof ganði.
Alla leitk á Ulli
eggveðrs hugar gleggum
(setti gaurr ok glotti)
goðfjón (við mér sjónir).
I was still treading water while his arse-cleft was gaping upward strangely in the water; the stupid dolt died with disgrace. I looked on all the depravity in that Ullr <god> of edge-storm [BATTLE > WARRIOR], devoid of courage; the lout set his gaze on me and grinned.
10 Loftungu gaft lengi
látr, þats Fáfnir átti;
þú lézt mér, inn mæri,
merkr fránǫluns vánir.
Verðr emk, varga myrðir
víðlendr, frá þér (síðan
eða heldr of sæ sjaldan)
slíks réttar (skalk vætta).
For long you gave Loftunga (‘Praise-tongue’) the lair that Fáfnir owned [gold]; you, famous one, have granted me hopes of the forest of the flashing fish [SERPENT > GOLD]. I am worthy of the same due from you, broad-landed destroyer of outlaws [RULER = Knútr], or instead I shall seldom afterwards hope [to come] over the sea.
11 Flestr of sér, hvé fasta
fagrbúnar hefk túna
báðar hendr ór breiðum
barðs þjóðkonungs garði.
Eld ák jǫfri gjalda
ungr þeim, es bregðr hungri,
djúps, (berk goll á greipum)
grôðugs ara (bôðum).
Most people see how I have both arms finely equipped with the fire of the homesteads of the prow [SEA > GOLD] from the spacious court of the mighty king. [While] young, I have to pay the prince for the flame of the deep [GOLD], who terminates the hunger of the greedy eagle; I bear gold on both hands.
12 Ér fenguð fé fleira
— flíms opt kveðit — Grími
mér ok miklu færa,
mæringr, an til væri.
Hann hefr hunds verk unnit;
— hvinn gerir slíkt at vinna —
mætr, en menzku bœttak
mína, gramr, ok þína.
You gave, majesty, more valuables to Grímr, and to me many fewer, than were available; libel is often spoken. He has done a dog’s work; a pilferer accomplishes such, but I have enhanced my honour and yours, worthy leader.
13 Þollr — vák Þórgrím trolla —
þar laut harðr til jarðar
(áðr réðk) odda hríðar
(ótrauðr Loðins dauða).
Þar namk Þorkel fjǫrvi;
Þórðr lét ǫnd inn fjórði;
felldr vas frægr til moldar
Falgeirr skǫrungr þeirra.
There the hardy fir of the blizzard of points [BATTLE > WARRIOR = Þorgrímr] bowed to the ground; I slew Þorgrímr trolli (‘Troll’); earlier I caused, unreluctant, Loðinn’s death. There I deprived Þorkell of life; Þórðr gave up the ghost as the fourth; renowned Falgeirr, their leader, was felled to the ground.
14 Éls (hefk illan díla)
Ekkils, þeims mik sekðu,
geig vannk gørvidraugum
(Grœnlendingum brenndan).
Sá munat sœkitívum
sverðéls frǫmum verða
hrings á hryggjar tanga
hóggrœddr, nema mér lógi.
I have burned a bad brand on the Greenlanders; I worked harm on the causing-trees of Ekkill’s <sea-king’s> storm [BATTLE > WARRIOR] who outlawed me. That [mark] will not be easily healed on the promontory of the back [BUTTOCKS] of the attacking-gods of the sword [WARRIORS] eager for sword-storm [BATTLE], unless they destroy me.
15 Hafa þóttumk ek, hættinn
happsœkjandi, ef tœkir,
hreins, við haldi mínu,
hvert land þegit, branda.
Ríkr, vilk með þér, rœkir
randar linns, ok Finni
— rǫnd berum út á andra
eybaugs — lifa ok deyja.
I would think that I had received every land, venturesome, fortunate attacker of the reindeer of stems [SHIP > SEA-WARRIOR = Óláfr], if you would accept my support. I wish to live and die with you and Finnr, mighty keeper of the serpent of the shield [SWORD > WARRIOR = Óláfr]; let’s bear the shield out onto the skis of the island-ring [SEA > SHIPS].
16 Sex hefk alls, síz óxu
ónhjalta Tý fjónir,
— kenndr emk við styr stundum —
stálregns boða vegna.
Þó emk enn at mun manna
morðs varliga orðinn
(vér létum þó þeira)
þrítøgr (skarar bíta).
I have killed, in all, six announcers of steel-rain [BATTLE > WARRIORS] since hostilities grew against the Týr <god> of sword-hilts [WARRIOR = me]; I am at times known for fighting. Yet I am still barely turned thirty, to the satisfaction of men of battle; we [I] nonetheless caused their scalps to be cleaved.
18 Brennum ǫll fyr innan
inni, þaus vér finnum,
(land tegask herr með hjǫrvi)
Hverbjǫrg (fyr gram verja).
Ýs (hafi allra húsa
Innþrœndir kol sinna)
angr skal kveykt í klungri,
(kǫld) ef ek má valda.
Let’s burn all the dwellings inside Hverbjǫrg that we find; the people show themselves ready to defend the land against the king with the sword. Let the Innþrœndir have the cold coals of all their houses; the sorrow of the yew [FIRE] shall be ignited in the thorns, if I can have my way.
19 Ála þryngr at éli
ǫrstiklandi miklu;
skyldut skelknir hauldar
— skalmǫld vex nú — falma.
Búumk við sókn, en slœkni-
seggr skyli -orð of forðask,
es at geirþingi gǫngum,
gunnreifr, með Ôleifi.
The arrow-shooter [WARRIOR = Óláfr] presses towards the great storm of Áli <legendary king> [BATTLE]; freeholders should not waver, frightened; a sword-age [BATTLE] swells now. Let us prepare ourselves for an attack, and a war-happy man ought to shun weakling-words when we go to the spear-assembly [BATTLE] with Óláfr.
20 Þér munk eðr, unz ǫðrum,
allvaldr, náir skǫldum,
— nær vættir þú þeirra? —
þingdjarfr, fyr kné hvarfa.
Braut komumk vér, þótt veitim
valtafn frekum hrafni,
— víksk eigi þat, vága
viggruðr — eða hér liggjum.
I shall still pace about before your knee, assembly-bold mighty ruler, until you get other skalds; when do you expect them? We shall come away even if we provide corpse-prey for the greedy raven, or we shall lie here; that will not fail, bush of the steed of the waves [(lit. ‘steed-bush of the waves’) SHIP > SEAFARER = Óláfr].
21 Á sér, at vér vôrum
vígreifr með Ôleifi;
sár fekk’k, Hildr, at hvôru,
hvítings, ok frið lítinn.
Skínn á skildi mínum;
skald fekk hríð til kalda;
nær hafa eskiaskar
ǫrvendan mik gǫrvan.
It can be seen that we were [I was], war-happy, with Óláfr; Hildr <valkyrie> of the bright drinking-horn [WOMAN], I got, at all events, a wound and little peace. It shines on my shield; the skald got too cold a blizzard; spear-ash-trees [WARRIORS] have made me nearly left-handed.
22 Haraldr vas bitr at berjask
bǫðreifr með Ôleifi;
þar gekk harðra hjǫrva
Hringr ok Dagr at þingi.
Réðu þeir und rauðar
randir prútt at standa
— fekk benþiðurr blakkan
bjór — dǫglingar fjórir.
Battle-happy Haraldr was sharp at fighting beside Óláfr; there Hringr and Dagr went to the assembly of hard swords [BATTLE]. Those four princes stood magnificently under red shields; the wound-grouse [RAVEN/EAGLE] got dark beer [blood].
23 Ǫrt vas Ôleifs hjarta;
óð framm konungr — blóði
rekin bitu stôl — á Stiklar
stǫðum, kvaddi lið bǫðvar.
Élþolla sák alla
Jǫlfuðs nema gram sjalfan
— reyndr vas flestr í fastri
fleindrífu — sér hlífa.
Óláfr’s heart was energetic; the king pressed forward at Stiklestad, rallied his host to battle; steel weapons inlaid with blood bit. I saw all the firs of the storm of Jǫlfuðr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘storm-firs of Jǫlfuðr’) BATTLE > WARRIORS] shelter themselves except the leader himself; most were tested in the ceaseless missile-blizzard [BATTLE].
24 Emka rjóðr, en rauðum
ræðr grǫnn Skǫgul manni
hauka setrs in hvíta;
hyggr fár of mik sáran.
Hitt veldr mér, at meldrar
morðvenjanda Fenju
djúp ok danskra vápna
Dags hríðar spor svíða.
I am not ruddy, but the slender, white Skǫgul <valkyrie> of the seat of hawks [ARM > WOMAN] gives orders to a red [blood-stained] man; few think about me, wounded. This is the cause to me [of my pallor], that the deep tracks of the blizzard of Dagr <legendary king> and of Danish weapons [BATTLE > WOUNDS] cause pain to the killing-accustomed one of the flour of Fenja <giantess> [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Þormóðr].
25 Undrask ǫglis landa
eik, hví vér róm bleikir;
fár verðr fagr af sôrum;
fannk ǫrva drif, svanni.
Mik fló malmr inn døkkvi
magni keyrðr í gǫgnum;
hvasst beit hjarta it næsta
hættligt járn, es vættik.
The oak of the lands of the hawk [ARMS > WOMAN] wonders why we are [I am] pale; few grow handsome from wounds; I met a blizzard of arrows [BATTLE], lady. The dark metal, driven with might, flew through me; the dangerous iron bit sharply next to the heart, I expect.
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