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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bragi inn gamli Boddason (Bragi)

9th century; volume 3; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

IV. Lausavísur (Lv) - 2

Skj info: Bragi enn gamli, Norsk skjald, omkr. 800-850. (AI, 1-5, BI, 1-5).

Skj poems:
[untitled]
1. Ragnarsdrápa
2. Ubestemmelige vers
3. Lausavísur

It is not possible to be precise about either the dates of Bragi Boddason’s (Bragi) floruit or about the details of his life. Some of the latter are almost certainly legendary (e.g. the narratives associated with Bragi Lv 1abIV, VIII and Bragi Troll), while his sobriquet inn gamli ‘the Old’ places him almost in prehistory, seen from an Icelandic viewpoint. Landnámabók (Ldn, ÍF 1, 82) mentions him as being associated by marriage with the family of Arinbjǫrn hersir from Firðir (Fjordane) in Western Norway, and Egils saga (Eg, ÍF 2, 182) places him in the same context. Ldn tells that Bragi’s wife was Lopthœna, daughter of another poet, Erpr lútandi ‘the Stooping’. Bragi seems to have been active as a poet in Norway one or two generations before the settlement of Iceland, hence c. 850-70. In Skáldatal’s list of poets (SnE 1848-87, III, 251, 259, 270), Bragi is the first named skald whose works have survived, at least in part. There he is associated with three patrons: Bjǫrn at Haugi, probably a Norwegian ruler, though some sources consider him Swedish (see Jón Jóhannesson 1940), Eysteinn beli and Ragnarr loðbrók ‘Shaggy-breeches’, there said to be a Danish king who himself composed poetry. Snorri Sturluson (SnE 1998, I, 72-3) associates Bragi’s poem Ragnarsdrápa (Rdr) with Ragnarr loðbrók, and he may be one and the same as the Ragnarr mentioned in Rdr’s refrain and ‘the son of Sigurðr’ referred to in Rdr 2/4. If Bragi’s patron Ragnarr is to be identified with the Viking leader who led an attack on Paris in 845, supposedly died in a snake-pit at the hands of King Ælla of Northumbria, and was the father of the Ingware and Ubba that the F version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle claims led raids on England in the 860s and 70s (de Vries 1928a; McTurk 1991a), then their association is just possible chronologically and geographically, as Ragnarr’s connections within Scandinavia were with Norway as well as with Denmark (Smyth 1977, 17-20).

Alongside information about Bragi the poet, Icelandic traditions also mention a god or supernatural being of this name (Grí 44/7, Lok, Sigrdr 16/2, SnE 2005, 25). In the frame narrative of Skm, Snorri Sturluson represents Bragi as the god who informs a curious sea-giant Ægir about the nature of skaldic diction. The connection between Bragi the poet and Bragi the god is uncertain, but it seems likely that Bragi Boddason’s iconic status as the first skald whose poetry survived into historical times contributed to the formation of the concept of a deity closely associated with the practice of skaldic verse in a courtly context (cf. Anon EirmI, Eyv HákI). Some scholars have linked Bragi and the origin of dróttkvætt with the influence of Irish poetry and culture, but their arguments are inconclusive (cf. Turville-Petre 1971; Kuhn 1983, 272-5; Sayers 1992).

Lausavísur — Bragi LvIV

Not published: do not cite (Bragi LvIV)

 1a   1b 

Skj: Bragi enn gamli: (AI, 5, BI, 5)

This edition is currently in preparation and will be published in a forthcoming volume of the series. The text below is from a superseded edition (Skj where relevant). Do not refer to this site when using the text below.

1a — Bragi Lv 1aIV

Cite as: Not published: do not cite (Bragi Lv 1aIV)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Tveir ró inni
- trúek báðum vel -
Hámundr ok Geirmundr,
Hjǫrvi bornir,
en Leifr þriði
Loðhattar sunr,
fœðat þú þann;
fár mun enn verri.  (fornyrðislag)

texts: Geir 1, Hálf, Ldn 6 (ch. 40), Stu 1

editions: Skj Bragi enn gamli: 3. Lausavísur 1 (AI, 5; BI, 5); Skald I, 3; Ldn 1900, 38, 162, 239, Ldn 1921, 67, ÍF I, 1, 151(Ldn); Stu 1878 I, 2, Stu 1906 I, 1, Stu 1946 I, 6, Stu 1988 I, 2 (Stu); H́álf 1981, 198 (Hálf).

sources

AM 445 b 4° (Mb) 2rb, 32 - 2rb, 35 (Ldn)  transcr.  image  
AM 107 folx (Stx) 26r, 17 - 26r, 19 (Ldn)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 105 folx (105x) 27r, 20 - 27r, 22 (Ldn)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 104 folx (Skx) 30v, 7 - 30v, 14 (Ldn)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 106 folx (Þb106x) 17v, 6 - 17v, 8 (Ldn)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 114 folx (114x) 3v, 1 - 3v, 3 (Stu)  transcr.  
AM 437 4°x (437x) 1v, 17 - 1v, 20 (Stu)  transcr.  image  
AM 439 4°x (439x) 1r, 18 - 1r, 20 (Stu)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 440 4°x (440x) 1v, 28 - 1v, 30 (Stu)  transcr.  image  image  
GKS 2845 4° (2845) 39v, 4 - 39v, 6 (Hálf)  transcr.  image  image  
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