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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju (Hildr)

9th century; volume 1; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Lausavísa (Lv) - 1

Skj info: Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju, Norsk, c. 900. (AI, 31, BI, 27).

Skj poems:

According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 123) and ÓH (1941, I, 51-2), Hildr (Hildr) was the daughter of the Norwegian Hrólfr nefja ‘Nose’ and the wife of Rǫgnvaldr jarl Eysteinsson of Mœrr (Møre). Orkn (ÍF 34, 7) gives her name as Ragnhildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju. She was the mother of Gǫngu-Hrólfr ‘Walking Hrólfr’, the alleged founder of the duchy of Normandy (see ÍF 26, 124-5 n. 1). The following lausavísa is the only poetry attributed to Hildr, who lived around 900.

Lausavísa — Hildr LvI

Kari Ellen Gade 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju, Lausavísa’ 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. 139.


Skj: Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju: Lausavísa (AI, 31, BI, 27); stanzas (if different): [v]

SkP info: I, 139

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Hildr Lv 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju, Lausavísa 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. 139.

Hafnið Nefju nafna;
nú rekið gand ór landi
horskan hǫlða barma;
hví bellið því, stillir?
Illts við ulf at ylfask
Yggs valbríkar slíkan;
muna við hilmis hjarðir
hœgr, ef renn til skógar.

Hafnið {nafna Nefju}; nú rekið gand, horskan barma hǫlða, ór landi; hví bellið því, stillir? Illts at ylfask við slíkan ulf {Yggs {valbríkar}}; muna hœgr við hjarðir hilmis, ef renn til skógar.

You renounce {Nefja’s namesake} [= Hrólfr]; now you banish the wolf, the wise brother of freeholders, from the land; why do you risk that, lord? It is dangerous to threaten such a wolvish enemy {of the Yggr <= Óðinn> {of the slain-plank}} [SHIELD > WARRIOR (= Haraldr)]; he will not be gentle with the ruler’s herds if he runs to the forest.

Mss: (66r), F(11va), J1ˣ(37r), J2ˣ(37v) (Hkr); Holm2(7v), R686ˣ(14r), 972ˣ(50va), 321ˣ(30-31), 78aˣ(22r), 68(6v), 61(80vb), 75c(4r), 325V(9vb), 325VII(2v), Bb(127va), Flat(81vb), Tóm(97r) (ÓH); 158 8°ˣ(87v) (ll. 5-6)

Readings: [1] nafna: nafni R686ˣ, 321ˣ, 78aˣ, 68, 61, Bb, Flat, nefna Tóm    [2] rekið: rekum F, rekr 321ˣ, 78aˣ, er rekinn 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm;    gand: gandr 75c, Flat, Tóm, grandir 325VII;    ór: af J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VII    [3] hǫlða: hǫrða 68, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, hǫfða Bb    [4] hví: h(u)fi(?) R686ˣ;    bellið: bellir 321ˣ, 78aˣ, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm;    því: þú 75c    [5] Illts (‘illt err’): er Bb;    við: om. J2ˣ, 321ˣ;    ulf: ‘ylf’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    ylfask: ylfa 321ˣ, yglask Flat, Tóm    [6] Yggs: ýgs J1ˣ, Holm2, 68, 325VII, Bb, Tóm, éls 321ˣ, 78aˣ, ‘Jks’ 158 8°ˣ;    val‑: ‘bal‑’ Bb;    ‑bríkar: ‑birkar R686ˣ, ‘Brixlar’ 158 8°ˣ;    slíkan: slíkr J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [7] muna: ‘mꜹnat’ F, man 78aˣ, munisk Bb, munit corrected from ‘mvnia’ Bb;    hilmis: yðrar 61;    hjarðir: hǫlða Holm2, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, hjarðar 321ˣ    [8] hœgr: Hogr 972ˣ, hœgt 321ˣ;    ef: er J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Holm2, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, 321ˣ, 78aˣ, 61, 325VII;    renn (‘hann renn’): hann gengr F, 68, 61, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, hann kømr J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Holm2, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, 321ˣ, 78aˣ

Editions: Skj: Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju, Lausavísa: AI, 31, BI, 27, Skald I, 17, NN §§2007, 2218B, 2724; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 131-2, ÍF 26, 123-4 (HHárf ch. 24), F 1871, 51; ÓH 1941, I, 52 (ch. 26), Flat 1860-8, II, 30.

Context: Hildr’s son Hrólfr arrives in Vík (Viken, Norway), and slaughters livestock for provisions. King Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ convenes an assembly and outlaws him, banishing him from Norway. Upon hearing that, Hildr goes to Haraldr and pleads her son’s cause to no avail. She then recites this stanza. AM 158 8°ˣ gives a couplet (ll. 5-6) as an illustration of a metaphor in which vargr ‘wolf, outlaw’ is called úlfr ‘wolf’.

Notes: [1] nafna Nefju ‘Nefja’s namesake [= Hrólfr]’: Nefja ‘Nose’ was the nickname of Hildr’s father, Hrólfr, and her son was named after his grandfather. The name Hrólfr originally meant ‘glory-wolf’ (*Hrōþuwolfaʀ > *Hrōðwolfʀ > Hrólfr; see ANG §228 Anm.). It is unclear whether the original meaning of the name would still have been discernible at the time when the stanza was composed, but it certainly would have been in keeping with the ‘wolf-outlaw’ imagery in this stanza. For ‘wolf’ = ‘outlaw’ in Germanic literature, see Jacoby (1974). — [2] gand ‘the wolf’: The primary sense of gandr is ‘(magic) staff, rod’, but it also means ‘wolf’ and is synonymous with vargr, which also means ‘outlaw’. — [3] horskan barma hǫlða ‘the wise brother of freeholders’: Skj B takes this noun phrase as the acc. object of bella ‘risk, be engaged in, harm, destroy’ (l. 4) and translates the clause as hvorfor behandler I höldernes kloge frænde således, konge? ‘why do you treat the wise kinsman of free farmers in such a manner, king?’. However, bella cannot take an acc. object (see NN §§2007, 2218). Barma hǫlða ‘the brother of freeholders’ refers to the fact that Hrólfr belonged to the social class of freeholders or free farmers (see Note to Anon Nkt 15/2II). — [5] ylfask ‘threaten’: Lit. ‘turn oneself into a wolf’. Hap. leg. formed from the noun ulfr ‘wolf’. — [5, 6] slíkan ulf Yggs valbríkar ‘such a wolvish enemy of the Yggr <= Ó̃ðinn> of the slain-plank [SHIELD > WARRIOR (= Haraldr)]’: (a) The kenning Yggs valbríkar ‘of the Yggr of the slain-plank’ refers to Haraldr, and his ulfr ‘wolf’ is his outlaw and enemy, Hrólfr (see LP: ulfr 4). (b) Skj B and Skald emend Yggs (gen.) to Yggr (nom.) and take the noun as a base-word in a warrior-kenning addressing Haraldr: Yggr valbríkar ‘Yggr of the slain-plank [SHIELD > WARRIOR]’, but this goes against all ms. witnesses. (c) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) retains Yggs and construes ulf Yggs valbríkar ‘the wolf of the slain-plank of Yggr [SHIELD > WARRIOR]’. That kenning is overdetermined, however, because ‘slain-plank’ alone is a shield-kenning and hence Yggs ‘of Yggr’ is redundant. — [8] renn (3rd pers. sg. pres. indic.) ‘runs’: For this form, see ANG §278.4b. The other two variants (gengr ‘goes’ and kømr ‘comes’) are also possible.

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