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Runic Dictionary

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Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld (Þorm)

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

I. Lausavísur (Lv) - 21

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 The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.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, ‘ 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. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1466> (accessed 5 December 2021)

stanzas:  10   11   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); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 12 | 13 | 14

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

 

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.
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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