Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson (Ólhv)

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

3. Lausavísur (Lv) - 2

Skj info: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld, Islandsk skjald og lærd, d. 1259. (AII, 92-8, BII, 104-10).

Skj poems:
1. Et digt om kong Hákon
2. Et hrynhent digt
3. Árónsdrápa
4. Af et digt om Thomas Becket
5. Lausavísur

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.

Lausavísur — Ólhv LvII

Lauren Goetting 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, 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. 670-2.

 1   2 

Skj: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld: 5. Lausavísur (AII, 98, BII, 109-10); stanzas (if different): 3

SkP info: II, 671-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Ólhv Lv 2II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Lauren Goetting (ed.) 2009, ‘Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Lausavísur 2’ 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. 671-2.

The st. (Ólhv Lv 2) appears in Hák and is transmitted in E, F, 42ˣ, 81a, 8, and Flat. E has been selected as the main ms.

Tjón hǫfum Birkibeina,
bǫðhraustr, fregit austan,
brátt mun bug þann rétta
bragningr, ef vel hagnar.
Virðendr munu verða
vápnglyms funa ymsir
— veitk, at vart hefr Knúti
vegnat — brǫgðum fegnir.

Hǫfum fregit austan tjón Birkibeina; bǫðhraustr bragningr mun brátt rétta þann bug, ef vel hagnar. {Virðendr {funa {vápnglyms}}} munu ymsir verða fegnir brǫgðum; veitk, at hefr vegnat vart Knúti.

We have learned from the east about the destruction of the Birkibeinar; the battle-daring king will soon set that right, if all goes well. {The esteemers {of the flame {of weapon-noise}}} [BATTLE > SWORD > WARRIORS] will in turn be gladdened by the exploits; I know that it has gone badly for Knútr.

Mss: E(173v), F(109rb), 42ˣ(157v), 81a(106ra-b), 8(53r), Flat(177vb) (Hák)

Readings: [1] hǫfum: hafa Flat;    Birkibeina: Birkibeinar Flat    [2] ‑hraustr: hraustir F, ‑hraustir Flat    [3] brátt: so F, 8, Flat, ‘brat’ E, betra 42ˣ, ‘batt’ 81a    [4] vel: ‘ve’ 81a    [5] Virðendr: ‘við þendr’ 42ˣ    [6] ‑glyms: ‑glymir 8;    funa: vina E, ‘fíma’ F, Flat, vini(?) 42ˣ, finna 81a    [7] vart: ‘vort’ 42ˣ    [8] vegnat: verðat 42ˣ, vegnar 81a, ‘negn att’ 8;    brǫgðum: so F, Flat, brǫgnum E, 42ˣ, 8, bragning 81a

Editions: Skj: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld, 5. Lausavísur 2: AII, 98, BII, 109, Skald II, 58; E 1916, 594, F 1871, 507, Hák 1910-86, 539, Hák 1977-82, 117, Flat 1860-8, III, 141.

Context: King Hákon was informed that the Birkibeinar, under the leadership of Jarl Knútr Hákonarson, were routed at the battle of Låke (9 March 1240) by the forces of Skúli Bárðarson.

Notes: [1] Birkibeina ‘of the Birkibeinar’: See Note to Nefari Lv 1/1. — [2] bǫðhraustr ‘battle-daring’: Cf. Sturl Hákfl 6/6. — [3] rétta þann bug ‘set that right’: Lit. ‘straighten the bend’. Bǫðhraustr bragningr mun brátt rétta þann bug ‘the battle-daring king will soon set that right’ (ll. 2-4) foreshadows the battle of Oslo (21 April 1240), in which Skúli Bárðarson was defeated by Hákon and his men. — [4] ef vel hagnar ‘if all goes well’: The verb hagna ‘be suitable, advantageous’ is impersonal. — [6] funa ‘of the flame’: None of the mss variants makes sense in the present context. The emendation funa ‘of the flame’ (so Skj B, Skald) has been chosen because it yields good meaning in the warrior-kenning virðendr funa vápnglyms ‘the esteemers of the flame of weapon-noise’ (ll. 5, 6) (see Meissner 343). — [7-8] hefr vegnat vart Knúti ‘it has gone badly for Knútr’: The verb vegna ‘proceed’ is used impersonally with a dat. object (see LP: vegna). — [7] Knúti ‘Knútr’: Jarl Knútr Hákonarson (d. 1261) became the royal pretender of the Ribbungar party in 1226, after the death of the previous leader Sigurðr ribbungr ‘Rabble’ Erlingsson. In 1227 Knútr was routed in battle by the Birkibeinar and subsequently transferred his allegiance to Hákon. See also Sturl Hákfl 6 and Note to 6/5. — [8] brǫgðum (n. dat. pl.) ‘cunning exploits’: So F, Flat. Bragð (n. nom. sg.) can denote either ‘deeds, actions, exploits’ or more specifically ‘(cunning) deeds, tricks, schemes’ (see CVC: bragð III). The variant brǫgnum ‘men’ (so E, 42ˣ, 8) makes little sense in this context and would create a l. with three internal rhymes.

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