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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Guthormr sindri (Gsind)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Russell Poole;

Hákonardrápa (Hákdr) - 8

Skj info: Goþþormr sindri, Norsk. Det 10. årh. (AI, 61-63, BI, 55-56).

Skj poems:

Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 273) lists Guthormr (Gsind) among the skalds serving the following kings: Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’; Hálfdan svarti ‘the Black’ Haraldsson (no other skalds listed; omitted in the U text of Skáldatal); and Hákon góði ‘the Good’. Of the poems he may have composed for these rulers, only eight stanzas are extant, all apparently from Hákonardrápa (Hákdr).

Little is otherwise known about Guthormr’s identity, life and career. His place of origin is unknown, but Icelandic birth is hardly likely at this early date, and the name was always much commoner in Norway than in Iceland (Lind 1905-15, 397); equally unknown are his patronymic or matronymic. On the basis of internal evidence in Hákdr, he must have survived the battle at Rastarkálfr on the island of Fræði (Frei) c. 955; he is not mentioned after the death of King Hákon (c. 961), by which time, if he indeed composed for Haraldr hárfagri, he would have been an old man. The sole anecdote about Guthormr, transmitted in Hkr (HHárf, ÍF 26, 141-2) and ÓT (1958-2000, I, 12-13), tells that he was a good skald and a member of the following of Hálfdan svarti. He had earlier been in the entourage of Hálfdan’s father Haraldr hárfagri, was a friend of both men, and had composed a poem about each of them, for which he declined any reward, asking instead that the two men grant a special request from him on some future occasion. When Haraldr and Hálfdan subsequently fell out, his request was that they reconcile with one another, which they did. Credence is lent to this story by the Sendibítr of Jórunn skáldmær (Jór Send), which makes allusion to Guthormr and his stratagem with evident approval, though the details remain obscure (Kreutzer 1972; Jesch 1987, 6-10).

The spelling of the skald’s given name varies (Lind 1905-15, 397) and it is often abbreviated in references to him. The variation may reflect dual origins, in compounds of goð ‘god’ with either þormr ‘protector’ or ormr ‘snake’; alternatively the ‑ormr variant may derive from ‑þormr (AEW: Guðþormr). The name is mentioned in Jór Send 5/3 (see below) but the internal rhyming there provides no means of determining whether the first syllable terminated in ‑t or ‑ð. The standard spelling for the name when used in reference to this individual in the kings’ sagas was apparently Guthormr (Finnur Jónsson, LH I, 442), and that has been adopted in this edition. His nickname is vouched for in Jór Send 4/8. It may mean ‘Spark’ but its exact significance remains unclear. The name Sindri appears in SnE ms. R (added in a later hand) in reference to a dwarf craftsman (SnE 1998, I, 141) and is etymologically related to sindr n. ‘slag, dross’ (CVC: sindr; cf. LH I, 442 n. 4) and sindra ‘to sparkle’ (Lind 1920-1, 308). The nickname may therefore relate to smithing and crafts, perhaps meaning ‘metal-worker’, though the sense ‘shining’ is also possible, given that a mythical hall made of gold is said to be either owned by Sindri’s kin (Vsp 37/3-4) or named Sindri (SnE 2005, 53).

Hákonardrápa (‘Drápa about Hákon’) — Gsind HákdrI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa’ 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. 156.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Goþþormr sindri: Hákonardrápa (AI, 61-3, BI, 55-6)

SkP info: I, 162

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Gsind Hákdr 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 4’ 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. 162.

Skattgilda vann skyldir
skautjalfaðar Gauta;
gollskýflir vann gjǫflastr
geirveðr í fǫr þeiri.

{Skyldir {skautjalfaðar}} vann Gauta skattgilda; {gjǫflastr gollskýflir} vann {geirveðr} í þeiri fǫr.

{The requisitioner {of the sail-bear}} [SHIP > SEAFARER] made the Gautar tribute-paying; {the most generous gold-destroyer} [GENEROUS MAN] made {spear-storms} [BATTLES] on that expedition.

Mss: (87r), F(15rb), J1ˣ(52r), J2ˣ(49r) (Hkr); 61(4rb), Bb(5va), Flat(7rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] Gauta: Gauti Flat    [3] ‑skýflir: so F, 61, Bb, ‑skýft Kˣ, ‑skylfir J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Flat;    vann: fann Flat    [4] geirveðr: om. J1ˣ

Editions: Skj: Goþþormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 4: AI, 62, BI, 55, Skald I, 34; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 178, IV, 47-8, ÍF 26, 160, Hkr 1991, I, 101 (HákGóð ch. 8), F 1871, 69; Fms 1, 28, Fms 12, 27, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 27 (ch. 18), Flat 1860-8, I, 53 .

Context: See Context to st. 3. Hákon raids and exacts tribute as far east as Gautland (Götaland). Following the stanza, it is told that he overwinters in Vík (Viken), as a precaution against attacks from the Danes and Gautar.

Notes: [1] skyldir ‘the requisitioner’: The agentive skyldir, from skylda ‘to require, exact, oblige’, has few attestations, and emendation to skildir ‘equipper with shields’ has been suggested, as being a natural collocation with expressions for ‘ship’ (Meissner 301). Previous eds have retained skyldir, assuming the general sense ‘controller, steerer’ (Skj B; ÍF 26; Hkr 1991), but a more specific reference is possible, to a naval levy by which the ruler required building or provision of ships as a form of tribute; this would fit with saga evidence that Hákon organised such a levy (Krag 2003b, 189). — [2] skautjalfaðar ‘of the sail-bear [SHIP]’: Skaut n. refers to the corner of a sail or piece of cloth, hence probably ‘sail’, or else ‘sheet’, a rope attached to the corner (Jesch 2001a, 163-4). The heiti jalfaðr/jǫlfuðr can mean ‘bear’ as here, or refer to Óðinn as in st. 1/6 (and see Note); compare Guthormr’s use of val- in different senses in sts 2/7 and 3/3. — [3] -skýflir ‘destroyer’: This sense is assumed on the basis of an etymology from skýfa ‘shove’ (cf. Meissner 289; Note to Rv Lv 14/7II). An alternative possibility is that it may derive from a distinct verb skyfla ‘to plunder, rob’ which is frequent in OEN (Fritzner: skyflir; AEW: -skyflt; cf. Meissner 301; ÍF 26), though not directly attested in OWN. The short vowel would be supported by the ModIcel. form -skylm- cited in LP: skýflir. The notion of the active pursuit of treasure would be paralleled in kennings with base-words such as beiðir or sœkir, both ‘pursuer’ (Meissner 290, 305).

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