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Runic Dictionary

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Ormr Steinþórsson (Ormr)

11th century; volume 3; ed. Russell Poole;

1. Poem about a woman (Woman) - 7

Nothing is known about Ormr Steinþórsson (Ormr). The patronymic indicates that he was probably an Icelander rather than a Norwegian (Ólafur Halldórsson 1969b, 156). Finnur Jónsson (Skj AI, 415) places him in the eleventh century, with a query, but commonalities between his work and certain other poems, noted below, make a floruit in the late twelfth century, perhaps even the turn of the thirteenth, more probable. He appears from the internal evidence of poetic fragments attributed to him to have composed for both male and female patrons; one of the male recipients was evidently blind (see Introduction to Ormr Frag below).

Poem about a woman — Ormr WomanIII

Russell Poole 2017, ‘ Ormr Steinþórsson, Poem about a woman’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 323. <> (accessed 17 September 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6 

for reference only:  1x 

Skj: Ormr Steinþórsson: 1. Af et digt om en kvinde (?) (AI, 415-416, BI, 385); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

SkP info: III, 328

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Ormr Woman 4III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Ormr Steinþórsson, Poem about a woman 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 328.

Skorða vas í fǫt fœrð
fjarðbeins afarhrein
nýri (sǫng nadd-Freyr)
nisting (of mjaðar Hrist).

{Skorða {fjarðbeins}} vas fœrð í afarhrein fǫt nýri nisting; {nadd-Freyr} sǫng of {Hrist mjaðar}.

{The prop {of the fjord-bone}} [STONE > WOMAN] was clothed in exceedingly clean garments with new stitching; {the spear-Freyr <god>} [WARRIOR] sang about {the Hrist <valkyrie> of mead} [WOMAN].

Mss: R(33r), Tˣ(34v), W(76), U(32r), A(10v), C(10v) (SnE); W(109) (TGT, ll. 1-2); 2368ˣ(119), 2368ˣ(133) (l. 1), 743ˣ(99v) (ll. 1-2) (LaufE)

Readings: [2] afar‑: ‘anar’ W(109);    ‑hrein: hreins C, teins W(109)    [3] nýri: nýtri A;    sǫng: slǫng A

Editions: Skj: Ormr Steinþórsson, 1. Af et digt om en kvinde (?) 3: AI, 415, BI, 385, Skald I, 191; SnE 1848-87, I, 410-11, II, 324, 435, 584, III, 74, SnE 1931, 146, SnE 1998, I, 64; SnE 1848-87, II, 162-3, TGT 1884, 28, 104, TGT 1927, 76, 105; LaufE 1979, I, 379, 399.

Context: In Skm (SnE) and LaufE the stanza is quoted to illustrate the use of the base-word skorð ‘prop’ in kennings for ‘woman’. In TGT it illustrates the use of inanimate metaphors for something animate (here, skorða fjarðbeins ‘prop of the fjord-bone [STONE > WOMAN]’).

Notes: [All]: This stanza, like st. 5, may contain elements of the Snæfríðr legend (for which see Introduction). In the Flat version of the story, a magical coverlet or shroud (blæja) called Svásanautr ‘Svási’s gift’ is draped over the woman upon her death and it prevents her body from putrefying (Flat 1860-8, I, 582). — [1] fœrð í ‘clothed in’: Lit. ‘conveyed into’. — [3] sǫng ‘sang’: In the present edn this reading (3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of syngja), found in all mss except A, is retained, in view of its much stronger support in the paradosis and its status as the lectio difficilior as contrasted with slǫng ‘slung, cast’. The subject of the verb is nadd-Freyr ‘the spear-Freyr’ (l. 3), while of Hrist mjaðar ‘about the Hrist of mead’ (l. 4) is understood as the theme of the ‘song’. The song could be a lament (grátr) over the dead woman. The word order is more complex in this interpretation than if A is followed, but it is not greater than the complexity seen in st. 2. All previous eds adopt the reading slǫng ‘slung’ (< slyngva), uniquely attested in A. The word order for the stanza as a whole is then as follows: Skorða fjarðbeins vas fœrð í afarhrein fǫt; nadd-Freyr slǫng nýri nisting of Hrist mjaðar ‘The prop of the fjord-bone [STONE > WOMAN] was clothed in exceedingly clean garments; the spear-Freyr <god> [WARRIOR] cast new stitching about the Hrist <valkyrie> of mead [WOMAN]’. However, a reliance on A seems unwarranted. The reading nýtri ‘useful, good’ (f. dat. sg.), likewise found only in A, for nýri ‘new’ (l. 3) in all other mss, is unlikely to be original because it entails loss of skothending with Freyr. This raises the suspicion that both nýtri and slǫng are innovations, perhaps the product of scribal enhancement. — [4] nisting ‘stitching’: This word occurs five times, only here in poetry, and always in the sense of ‘stitching, sewing’ (LP, Fritzner: nisting; cf. citations in ONP: nisting). The extended sense ‘garment’ posited uniquely for this stanza by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (LP (1860): nisting), followed by Guðbrandur Vigfússon (CPB II, 323) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B, LP: nisting), is not warranted, since fǫt ‘garments’ can be envisaged as undergoing ‘stitching’ or ‘sewing’ to adapt them to fit the dead woman, perhaps by way of being ‘taken in’ or ‘gathered’. The case of nisting is dat. (instrumental), indicating the manner in which or means by which the corpse is conveyed into the fǫt. In previous eds it is taken as the dat. object of slǫng (ms. A). Such flexionless dat. forms start to supplant older forms in -u in the C11th or 12th (Finnur Jónsson 1901, 40-1; ANG §376).

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