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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson (Ólsv)

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

3. Kristsdrápa (Kristdr) - 2

Skj info: Óláfr Leggsson, svartaskáld, Islandsk skjald, 13. årh. (AII, 84-86, BII, 96-97).

Skj poems:
1. En drape om kong Hakon (?)
2. En drape om Skule jarl
3. En drape om Kristus (?)
4. Af et kærlighedsdigt (?)
5. Lausavísa

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.

Kristsdrápa (‘Drápa about Christ’) — Ólsv KristdrIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson, Kristsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 314. <> (accessed 5 December 2021)

 1   2 

Skj: Óláfr Leggsson, svartaskáld: 3. En drape om Kristus (?) (AII, 85, BII, 96)

SkP info: III, 315

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Ólsv Kristdr 2III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson, Kristsdrápa 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. 315.

Tungl gaft, tryggvinr engla,
talið dœgr megin lœgis,
— fekk hlýrnir stað stjǫrnum —
sterkr, ok aldir merkja.


{Powerful faithful friend of angels}, [= God] you gave celestial bodies to mark the number of days and nights, the power of the sea and the ages; the sky found a place for the stars.

context: As st. 1 above.

notes: Given the theme of creation, the referent of the kenning tryggvinr engla ‘faithful friend of angels’ (l. 1) must be ‘God’ rather than ‘Christ’. The content of the stanza is very reminiscent of the creation of the world according to Vsp (sts 5-6), especially st. 6/5-10 (NK 2): nótt oc niðiom | nǫfn um gáfo, | morgin héto | oc miðian dag, | undorn oc aptan, | árom at telia ‘[they] gave names to the night and the waning moon, they named the morning and the middle of the day, the afternoon and the evening, so as to keep count of the years’. See also Vafþr 22-5. Ártali ‘year-counter’ is also a heiti for ‘moon’ (see Þul Tungls l. 6, Alv 14/6 and Skm, SnE 1998, I, 85). See also Gen. I.14.

texts: LaufE 106 (372-3)

editions: Skj Óláfr Leggsson, svartaskáld: 3. En drape om Kristus (?) 2 (AII, 85; BII, 96); Skald II, 52, NN §1333; SnE 1848-87, II, 629, III, 193, LaufE 1979, 372-3.


AM 743 4°x (743x) 87r - 87r (LaufE)  image  image  image  
GKS 2368 4°x (2368x) 114 - 114 (LaufE)  image  
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