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.

Runic Dictionary

login: password: stay logged in: help

Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson (Ólsv)

13th century; volume 3; ed. R. D. Fulk;

1. Hákonardrápa (Hákdr) - 2

It is possible that Óláfr (Ólsv) was a nephew of the poet Játgeirr Torfason (SnE 1848-87, III, 681; SkP II, 652). In Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 279) he is identified as a poet attached to the court of King Hákon Hákonarson (r. 1217-63; see SkP II, lxxxi-lxxxii). His nickname svartaskáld ‘Black Skald’ no doubt was employed to distinguish him from his contemporary at Hákon’s court, Óláfr hvítaskáld ‘White Skald’ Þórðarson (Ólhv; see SkP II, 656), and presumably it indicates that he had dark hair. He plays a role in a narrative in Sturlunga saga (ch. 228) set in the period 1230-1 (see Stu 1988, I, 329-30). According to that saga, he was a poor man who was in the company of Snorri Sturluson’s son, Jón murtr ‘Roach’, in Bergen in 1231. During a drunken brawl he dealt Jón an axe-blow that led to Jón’s death. Óláfr managed to escape the scene of the crime under the cover of darkness and he was not punished. He is not mentioned again in any literary source. The remains of his poetry are almost all fragmentary: these include what appear to be drápur dedicated to King Hákon (Hákdr), to Christ (Kristdr), and to the Norwegian Skúli jarl Bárðarson (1189-1240) (Skúldr), as well as a love poem (Love); the one complete work is a lone lausavísa.

Hákonardrápa (‘Drápa about Hákon’) — Ólsv HákdrIII

R. D. Fulk 2017, ‘ Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson, Hákonardrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 311. <> (accessed 19 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2 

Skj: Óláfr Leggsson, svartaskáld: 1. En drape om kong Hakon (?) (AII, 84-85, BII, 96)

SkP info: III, 312

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Ólsv Hákdr 2III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2017, ‘Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson, Hákonardrápa 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 312.

Hreinstólpa átt hjálpar,
herrekkir, brag þekkja;
hátt sitið hans í réttu,
hvarmætr skǫrungr, sæti.

{Herrekkir}, átt þekkja brag {hreinstólpa hjálpar}; sitið, skǫrungr, hvarmætr, hátt í réttu sæti hans.

{War-promoter} [WARRIOR], you ought to recognise the praise {of the pure pillar of help} [= S. Óláfr]; sit, leader, excellent in all respects, tall in his proper seat.

Mss: 743ˣ(87r), 2368ˣ(113) (LaufE)

Readings: [4] hvarmætr: ‘hnar mætr’ 743ˣ, ‘hnär mætur’ 2368ˣ

Editions: Skj: Óláfr Leggsson, svartaskáld, 1. En drape om kong Hakon (?) 2: AII, 85, BII, 96, Skald II, 51; LaufE 1979, 372.

Context: The helmingr is cited to illustrate the use of rekkr ‘promoter’ in reference to someone who gives honour and courage to others.

Notes: [1] hreinstólpa hjálpar ‘of the pure pillar of help [= S. Óláfr]’: This would appear to refer to King Óláfr inn helgi Haraldsson (S. Óláfr), the patron saint of Norway, who occupied the Norwegian throne in the early C11th (r. 1015-1030; see his Biography in SkP I). A number of other poetic uses of stólpi ‘pillar’ occur in religious poetry, particularly with reference to the Virgin Mary, see e.g. Anon Pét 5/7VII and Note there. — [3] hátt ‘tall’: Lit. ‘high’ (adv.).

© 2008-