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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Glúmr Geirason (Glúmr)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

2. Gráfeldardrápa (Gráf) - 15

Skj info: Glúmr Geirason, Islandsk skjald omkr. 950-75. (AI, 75-8, BI, 65-8).

Skj poems:
1. Kvad om Erik blodøkse
2. Gráfeldardrápa
3. Lausavísa

Glúmr Geirason (Glúmr) was the son of Geiri (patronymic unknown), a Norwegian who settled in Iceland. Glúmr was born there in the early tenth century and moved with his father and brother from Mývatn, via Húnavatn, to Króksfjörður, Breiðafjörður, because of some killings (Ldn, ÍF 1, 284; he is also mentioned in ÍF 1, 154, 161, 238 and appears in Reykdœla saga, ÍF 10, 204-12). He married Ingunn Þórólfsdóttir, and their son was Þórðr Ingunnarson, who features in Laxdœla saga (ÍF 5, 86-7). Glúmr is named in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 273, 274) as the poet of Eiríkr blóðøx ‘Blood-axe’ (d. c. 954) and Haraldr gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’ (d. c. 970), and poems for both survive in part. Considerably more of Gráfeldardrápa (Gráf) survives than of the Poem about Eiríkr blóðøx (EirIII), though there is some difficulty in assigning certain stanzas to one or other poem (see Introduction to Gráf). Glúmr is the subject of HaukrV Ísldr 11IV, which depicts him as a zealous fighter who was with Haraldr gráfeldr at his victory at Fitjar (c. 961). Glúmr’s presence at the battle is somewhat in doubt, however, since although the Fsk text of his lausavísa on the subject (Glúmr Lv) contains sák ‘I saw’, the Hkr and ÓT mss have frák ‘I have heard’. From Glúmr Gráf it is clear that Glúmr outlived Haraldr (see Introduction). Edited below are Gráf and Lv, while the fragment of Eir is edited in SkP III since it is preserved only in SnE and TGT.

Gráfeldardrápa (‘Drápa about (Haraldr) gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’’) — Glúmr GráfI

Alison Finlay 2012, ‘ Glúmr Geirason, Gráfeldardrápa’ 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. 245. <> (accessed 18 January 2022)

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Skj: Glúmr Geirason: 2. Gráfeldardrápa, c 970 (AI, 75-8, BI, 66-8); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

SkP info: I, 248

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Glúmr Gráf 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Glúmr Geirason, Gráfeldardrápa 1’ 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. 248.

Hlýði! Hapta beiðis
hefk mildinga gildi;
því biðjum vér þagnar,
þegna tjón at fregnum.

Hlýði! Hefk {gildi {beiðis hapta}} mildinga; því biðjum vér þagnar, at fregnum tjón þegna.

Listen! I begin {the banquet {of the ruler of the gods}} [= Óðinn > POETRY] of princes; we [I] ask for silence because we [I] have heard of the loss of the man.

Mss: R(21v), Tˣ(21v-22r), W(46), U(27r), B(4r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Hlýði: hlýddi Tˣ;    Hapta: hafra B;    beiðis: beiðir Tˣ, B    [2] hefk: hefr U, hefsk B;    mildinga: mildi W;    gildi: om. W, gild U    [3] biðjum: so W, U, B, bjóðum R, biðju Tˣ    [4] at: so Tˣ, W, U, B, af R

Editions: Skj: Glúmr Geirason, 2. Gráfeldardrápa 1: AI, 75, BI, 66, Skald I, 41, NN §§254, 2745, 3097C; SnE 1848-87, I, 248-9, II, 306, 522, SnE 1931, 93SnE 1998, I, 12, 162. 

Context: The stanza occurs as one of a sequence exemplifying kennings for ‘poetry’ referring to the myth of Óðinn’s theft of the mead of poetry.

Notes: [1] hlýði ‘listen’: This 3rd pers. sg./pl. pres. subj. verb functions as an imp., calling for a hearing and marking the helmingr as the conventional introduction to a poem, cf. Þhorn Harkv 1/1 Hlýði hringberendr ‘Let sword-bearers [WARRIORS] listen’. For it to occur without a subject is unusual; for a suggested emendation which supplies one, see Note to l. 2 mildinga. — [1, 2] gildi beiðis hapta ‘the banquet of the ruler of the gods [= Óðinn > POETRY]’: One of several skaldic kennings based on the myth of the mead of poetry, on which, see Note to ESk Vell 1 [All]. — [2] hefk ‘I begin’: Probably 1st pers. sg. pres. indic. of hefja ‘I raise, begin’ rather than the identical form from hafa ‘have’, as Kock notes (NN §2745). — [2] mildinga ‘of princes’: (a) The gen. pl. mildinga is retained here and by Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 12, 162, II, 356). There are parallels in prose to the use of gen. to refer to the subject of poetry, e.g. í kvæðum hans ‘in poetry about him’, cited from Egils saga in the Introduction above. Mildinga ‘of princes’ would not literally apply to the poem as it survives, with its strong focus on Haraldr, but it could be taken as a pl. for sg. referring to Haraldr as its subject, or perhaps generally to ‘princes’ as the natural subject of poetry. Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 162) takes mildinga as a possible indication that the poem is ‘addressed to an assembly of rulers (or at least to more than one of the dead king’s brothers)’; cf. Fidjestøl (1982, 91, 230). (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B and Kock in Skald emend to the nom. pl. mildingar and construe it with hlýði, hence ‘let the princes hear!’. However, reading mildingar goes against all mss and produces an awkward word order. — [3] biðjum ‘we [I] ask’: This reading is adopted by all eds in place of bjóðum ‘we [I] command, offer’, the reading of R. — [4] tjón þegna ‘the loss of the man’: (a) Tjón ‘loss, destruction’ normally takes the gen. of the person or thing lost (LP, Fritzner: tjón), and this phrase could refer to the death of Haraldr gráfeldr (as assumed in Skj B and this edn), with gen. pl. þegna ‘of men’ for gen. sg. ‘of the man’. (b) Þegn, however, seems inappropriately lowly as a designation of a king, and the sense here may be ‘the followers’ loss [of their lord]’ (so Kock, NN §254; Faulkes, SnE 1998, II, 433). A further possibility is a reference to all those who fell in battle.

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