This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

Hjǫrtr (Hjǫrtr)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 3

Skj info: Hjǫrtr, Islænder, 11. årh. (AI, 403, BI, 372-3).

Skj poems:

Very little is known about Hjǫrtr (which, if translated, would mean ‘Deer’). According to Hemings þáttr Áslákssonar (Hem in Hr and Hb), he was an Icelander who was sent by Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson as an envoy to Russia in 1065-6 to retrieve a bag of goatskin filled with gold which Haraldr had left with his wife, Ellisif (Elizabeth) (see Hb 1892-6, 331-3; Fellows Jensen 1962, 37-9). He is also mentioned in the first part of the þáttr in Flat, where his patronymic is given as Óláfsson (Flat 196-8, III, 401). Because that information is lacking in the other versions (see Fellows Jensen 1962, 1), it is likely a Flat innovation.

Lausavísur — Hjǫrtr LvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Hjǫrtr, Lausavísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 344-7.

 1   2   3 

Skj: Hjǫrtr: Lausavísur, 1066 (AI, 403, BI, 372-3)

SkP info: II, 344-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Hjǫrtr Lv 1II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Hjǫrtr, Lausavísur 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 344-6.

Þrøngvir gulli
gramr fast saman;
veitir Sýrar
sonr fáskonar.
Land skyldi lítit
laf-Hamðir hafa;
þá myndi hauldum
Haraldr svara.

Gramr þrøngvir gulli fast saman; {sonr Sýrar} veitir fáskonar. Laf-Hamðir skyldi hafa lítit land; þá myndi Haraldr svara hauldum.

The ruler gathers gold forcefully; {Sýr’s son} [= Haraldr] gives away little. Laf-Hamðir (‘Slouch-Hamðir’) should get little land; then Haraldr might answer the men.

Mss: 326bˣ(22v-23r) (Hb)

Readings: [3] Sýrar: ‘[…]’ 326bˣ

Editions: Skj: Hjǫrtr, Lausavísur 1: AI, 403, BI, 372, Skald I, 185; Hb 1892-6, 331-2, Fellows Jensen 1962, 38 (Hem).

Context: Upon their return from Russia, Hjǫrtr and his fellow travellers go before King Haraldr and greet him, but the king is too busy talking to Tostig Godwineson (Tósti) to pay any attention to them. Hjǫrtr then recites this st. to comment on the situation.

Notes: [3] Sýrar ‘Sýr’s’: This word is conjectural, but it makes sense both in terms of metre and context (Sigurðr sýr ‘Sow’ was Haraldr’s father), and cf. geitarson ‘a goat’s son’ in st. 2/7 below as well as SnH Lv 11. The word was first suggested by Gudbrand Vigfusson (1887-94, I, 368). — [4] fáskonar ‘little’: Lit. ‘in few ways’. The gen. of konr lit. ‘descendant, son’ used adverbially with the meaning ‘manner, way, kind’. This adv. could be compounded with proclitic adjectives or pronouns in the gen. (here fás ‘of few’). — [5-6]: Although syntactically transparent, the sense of these two ll. is obscure. The identity of ‘laf-Hamðir’ is not clear, and the interpretation depends on the meaning of the verb hafa ‘get, possess’. See the discussion below. — [6] laf-Hamðir ‘(“Slouch-Hamðir”)’: The meaning of this epithet is not immediately transparent, but it must be a derogatory term either for Haraldr (so Hb 1892-6, 331 n. a) or for Tostig (so LP: laf-Hamðir). Laf- is derived from the verb lafa ‘hang, dangle, slouch’ (see lafhræddr ‘terror-stricken’ in Lv 3/6 below), and Hamðir is a legendary hero (see Ghv; Hamð). Skj B suggests the translation den bukkeskæggede(?) ‘the one with a goat-beard(?)’, and in Hb (1892-6) Finnur proposes tentatively that the word could be a scribal error for lofðungr ‘ruler’. That is unlikely because of the internal rhyme (-af- : -af-). In the present edn, the epithet is taken to refer to Haraldr (see the discussion of hafa ‘get’ (l. 6 below)). In keeping with the adj. lafhræddr in Lv 3/6, it may refer to his lack of initiative. For Tostig’s mission to Haraldr’s court, see Gade 2004. — [6] hafa ‘get’: The identity of laf-Hamðir ‘Slouch-Hamðir’ (l. 6) hinges on the meaning of the verb hafa ‘get, obtain’ or ‘possess’ (see Fritzner: hafa 6 and 8). Tostig arrives at Haraldr’s court and promises him the sovereignty in England if Haraldr will agree to embark on the expedition to the west. If their campaign is successful, Tostig and his brothers will hold England as a fief and pay tribute to Haraldr (see the similar offer made to Sveinn Úlfsson of Denmark; Fellows Jensen 1962, 35). If Hjǫrtr wishes that Tostig will only offer Haraldr a small part of England (lítit land ‘little land’ (l. 5), then laf-Hamðir is Haraldr. But if hafa is taken in the meaning ‘possess’, the poet hopes that Tostig (= laf-Hamðir) will only have a small country to barter with, so that Haraldr will lose interest in the conversation and pay attention to his men. The prose of Hem, which is similar in the Hr and Hb versions, settles that issue. According to the þáttr, the following verbal exchange ensues between Haraldr and Hjǫrtr after Hjǫrtr has recited the st. (Hb 1892-6, 332): hversu litið segir konvngr. eigi meira segir Hiortr en þu mættir liggia a ‘“how little”, says the king. “Not more,” says Hjǫrtr, “than you can lie on”’. Not only does Hjǫrtr specify that Haraldr is the one who should get little land (see also andvani alls Englands ‘bereft of all England’ in Lv 3/7-8 below), but his answer echoes Harold Godwineson’s offer to Haraldr at the fatal battle of Stamford Bridge (ÍF 28, 187): Sagt hefir hann þar nǫkkut frá, hvers hann mun honum unna af Englandi: sjau fóta rúm eða því lengra sem hann er hæri enn aðrir menn ‘He has said something about how much of England he will grant him: an area of seven feet or so much more as he is taller than other men’. — [7] hauldum ‘the men’: Lit. ‘the freeholders’. For this word, see Note to Anon Nkt 15/2.

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.