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Runic Dictionary

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Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson (Ólhv)

13th century; volume 2; ed. Lauren Goetting;

III. 2. Fragments (Frag) - 9

prose works

Óláfr hvítaskáld ‘White Skald’ Þórðarson (Ólhv) was an accomplished Icel. scholar and a prolific poet. Details of his life are documented in Sturlunga saga (Stu), Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (Hák), and Knýtlinga saga (Knýtl). He was born c. 1210-12 at Staður on Snæfellsness, Iceland, as the eldest son of Þórðr Sturluson and his concubine Þóra. He was the nephew of Snorri Sturluson (SnSt; d. 1241), with whom he spent long periods of time as a young man, and the older brother of Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl; d. 1284). In 1237 he left Iceland with Snorri to embark upon a career as a professional poet at the courts of Scandinavia. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256-8, 260, 378-84) Óláfr composed poetry in honour of a large number of kings and noblemen, including the following: (in Norway) Jarl Skúli Bárðarson (d. 1240), King Hákon Hákonarson (d. 1263) and his son Hákon ungi ‘the Young’ Hákonarson (d. 1257), Jarl Knútr Hákonarson (d. 1261); (in Sweden) King Eiríkr Eiríkson (d. 1250); (in Denmark) King Valdimarr Valdimarsson (d. 1241). Because of Óláfr’s close association with Valdimarr, from whom he hafði ... margar ágætligar frásagnir ‘got ... many excellent narratives’ (ÍF 35, 315), he is thought by some to have written Knýtl, which recounts the history of Dan. rulers (see LH 1894-1901, II, 275, 784-5). Around 1242 Óláfr returned to Iceland and founded a school at Stafaholt in Borgarfjörður, where he wrote the Third Grammatical Treatise (TGT) and devoted himself to teaching and writing until his death in 1259. In addition to these pursuits, he was ordained subdeacon at some point after his return to Iceland and also served as lawspeaker 1248-50.

Most of Óláfr’s extant poetry consists of encomia to King Hákon Hákonarson and is inserted throughout the prose in Hák. This includes part of Hrynhenda (Ólhv Hryn), one st. from a Poem about Hákon (Ólhv Hák), and two lvv. (Ólhv Lv). One lv. traditionally assigned to him, has been reassigned in the present edn to Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson (Ólsv Love 3III). Aside from the aforementioned, the remainder of Óláfr’s known poetic works includes two sts from ÁrónsdrápaDrápa about Árón’ (Ólhv ÁrdrIV), composed about his friend Árón Hjǫrleifsson, and two sts from ThómasdrápaDrápa about Thomas (ꜳ Becket)’ (Ólhv ThómdrIII), recorded in the Fourth Grammatical Treatise (FoGT). Finally, nine fragments of sts from TGT (Ólhv FragIII), treated as anonymous in previous eds, are attributed to Óláfr in this edn.

Fragments — Ólhv FragIII

Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘ Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 302. <> (accessed 21 January 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 

in texts: Gramm, TGT, TGT 1, TGT 2, TGT 3, TGT 4

SkP info: III, 302

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


1 Vættik harms, nema hitta
hǫfuðgulls náim Fullu.
I hope for sorrow, unless we [I] manage to meet with the Fulla <goddess> of head-gold [HEADDRESS > WOMAN].
2 Þat hefk sagt,
es sjálfr vissak;
dulðr ferk hins,
es drengr þegir.
I have said what I knew myself; I am ignorant of what the man is [I am] silent about.
3 Hermenn gátum hinnig
hugstinnan gram vinna.
We [I] have found out that the single-minded lord defeated warriors there.
4 Flugu hrafnar tveir
af Hnikars ǫxlum;
Huginn til hanga,
en á hræ Muninn.
Two ravens flew from Hnikarr’s <= Óðinn’s> shoulders; Huginn to the hanged one, and Muninn to the corpse.
5 Herr búask hvatt til snerru.The army prepare themselves keenly for battle.
6 Harða, hvatfœra,
hrausta, vígtama,
snarpa, snarráða
sá gat hirð ræsir.
That prince got a tough, fast-acting, brave, war-experienced, keen, resolute retinue.
7 Áðr grimmhugaðr gengi
af grjót-Móða dauðum.
Before the fierce-minded one walked away from the dead rock-Móði <god> [GIANT].
8 Kjǫlr brunar kløkkr á fǫlvar
krapthár meginbárur.
The high-planked, flexing keel speeds over the white large waves.
9 Vǫndrs Máría mynduð
(meins en eplit hreina
endr gat) Jesse kindar
(alls grœðari kallask).
Mary is symbolised by the branch of Jesse’s kin, and the healer of all evil [= Christ] was once called the pure apple.
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