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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

III. 1. Bjarkamál in fornu (Bjark) - 7

not in Skj

2.1: Bjarkamál in fornu (‘The (Old) Speeches of Bjarki’) — Anon BjarkIII

Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Bjarkamál in fornu’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 495. <> (accessed 30 November 2021)

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7 

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [X]: II. A. Bjarkamál en fornu (AI, 180-1, BI, 170-1)

SkP info: III, 505

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Anon Bjark 7III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Bjarkamál in fornu 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 505.

Svá skalk hann kyrkja
sem inn kámleita
véli viðbjarnar
veggja aldinna.


Thus I shall throttle him like {the dark betrayer {of the wood-bear of old walls}}. [MOUSE > CAT]

context: In mss of LaufE this helmingr is listed as an example of kennings for animals and introduced thus: svá stendr í Bjarkamálum ‘thus it stands in Bjarkamál’. After the citation, the prose text explains (normalised): hér er mús kǫlluð viðbjǫrn veggja, enn kǫttrinn vélir hennar ‘here a mouse is called wood-bear of walls, and the cat her betrayer’.

notes: This stanza is in direct speech mode, but neither the speaker nor the addressee can be identified, nor can the person who is threatened with strangulation. No source for it, aside from its recording in LaufE, is known, though it is also in RE 1665(Ee2). Faulkes (LaufE 1979, 265 n.) suggests it may have been derived from leaves from W that are now lost. However, it is possible that a remark attributed to Bǫðvarr bjarki in the prose of Hrólf is a version of that part of Bjark from which this helmingr comes. After Hrólfr kraki has fallen, Bǫðvarr rails bitterly against what he identifies as Óðinn’s role in causing his lord’s death, calling him foul and faithless and threatening that, if he were able to identify him, skylda ek kreista hann sem annan vesta ok minnsta mýsling (Hrólf 1960, 122 normalised) ‘I would squeeze him like some other vilest and tiniest mousling’. Here we find an implicit equation between the speaker (Bǫðvarr) and his victim (Óðinn) in terms of the hostility of a cat to a mouse, as the kenning of Bjark 7 also indicates. A similar but less graphic threat is recorded by Saxo (Saxo 2015, I, ii. 7. 27, pp. 138-9) without the cat-mouse comparison.

texts: LaufE 43 (265), LaufE 23 (341)

editions: Skj Anonyme digte og vers [X]: II. A. Bjarkamál en fornu 7 (AI, 181; BI, 171); Skald I, 92; LaufE 1979, 265, 341.


Holm papp 10 4°x (papp10x) 40r - 40r (LaufE)  image  
GKS 2368 4°x (2368x) 88, 15 - 88, 16 (LaufE)  transcr.  image  
AM 743 4°x (743x) 69v - 69v (LaufE)  image  image  
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