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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (Rv)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Judith Jesch;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 32

Skj info: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Orknøsk jarl og skjald, d. 1158. (AI, 505-28, BI, 478-87).

Skj poems:
Lausavísur [33-35]

Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson, jarl of Orkney, is known primarily from Orkn, in which he is one of the main characters, but he is also mentioned in other texts, including Hkr (ÍF 28, 324-5) and Icel. annals (Storm 1888, 20-1, 60, 113-14, 116, 120, 321-2, 324). He was born Kali Kolsson, the son of a Norw. nobleman from Agder, Kolr Kalason, and Gunnhildr, the sister of the martyred S. Magnús of Orkney (ÍF 34, 101-2). Orkn recounts various episodes from Rǫgnvaldr’s youth, in Norway and elsewhere, several of them associated with lvv. (see below). Though we are not told how and when he learned the skaldic art, his grandfather Kali Sæbjarnarson is said to have been good at poetical composition (ÍF 34, 95) and indeed Orkn preserves one st. by him (Kali Lv). Kali Kolsson was given the name Rǫgnvaldr by King Sigurðr jórsalafari Magnússon when he also made him joint jarl of Orkney with Páll Hákonarson. There are relatively few lvv. associated with Rǫgnvaldr’s assumption of power in Orkney and subsequent political affairs, though both are recounted at length in the saga. Rǫgnvaldr is remembered for his poetry, especially that composed during his crusade to the Holy Land in 1151-3, and for instigating the building of the cathedral in Kirkwall, dedicated to his uncle S. Magnús. Rǫgnvaldr was killed in Caithness in an ambush by political opponents in 1158 (according to the Icel. annals, but 1159 according to the internal chronology of Orkn, cf. ÍF 34, xc) and is remembered as a saint. His relics were translated in 1192 (according to the Icel. annals) and a skull and some bones found in St Magnus Cathedral may have been his (Jesch and Molleson, 2005). There are thirty-five lvv. attributed to Rǫgnvaldr, of which thirty-two are preserved in mss of Orkn and edited here. Three further lvv. (Rv Lv 33-5III) are edited in SkP III, along with Háttalykill (RvHbreiðm HlIII), a poetical guide to metres composed by Rǫgnvaldr jointly with Hallr Þórarinsson breiðmaga.

Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 5. Biographies > 2. Biographies of Other Dignitaries > e. Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson

Jarl Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson of Orkney is not commemorated in praise poetry, and his biography is therefore not included here. For his life and poetic works, see his skald Biography.

Lausavísur — Rv LvII

Judith Jesch 2009, ‘ Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, 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. 575-609. <> (accessed 26 January 2022)

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Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson: Lausavísur (AI, 505-12, BI, 478-87); stanzas (if different): 33 | 34 | 35

SkP info: II, 588-9

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

11 — Rv Lv 11II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 11’ 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. 588-9.

Ala kvezk Einarr vilja
engan Rǫgnvalds drengja
— mér kemr Gauts á góma
gjalfr — nema jarlinn sjalfan.
Veitk, at hratzk í heitum
hugþekkr firum ekki;
inn gekk, Yggs þars brunnu
eldar síð á kveldi.

Einarr kvezk vilja ala engan drengja Rǫgnvalds nema jarlinn sjalfan; {gjalfr Gauts} kemr á góma mér. Veitk, at ekki hugþekkr firum hratzk í heitum; gekk inn, þars {eldar Yggs} brunnu síð á kveldi.

Einarr said that he wished to entertain none of the followers of Rǫgnvaldr except the jarl himself; {the roaring sea of Gautr <= Óðinn>} [POETRY] comes to my palate. I know that [the one] not amiable to men overturned his promises; I went in where {the fires of Yggr <= Óðinn>} [SWORDS] burned late in the evening.

Mss: Flat(139va), R702ˣ(44r) (Orkn)

Readings: [3] kemr: so R702ˣ, fellr Flat    [4] gjalfr: so R702ˣ, gjalfrs Flat;    jarlinn: jarl R702ˣ    [5] hratzk: ‘hrꜳz’ Flat, ‘vazt’ R702ˣ    [6] hug‑: var hann R702ˣ    [7] Yggs: ek R702ˣ    [8] kveldi: kveldum R702ˣ

Editions: Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 11: AI, 507, BI, 481, Skald I, 236, NN §2795; Flat 1860-8, II, 474-5, Orkn 1887, 151, Orkn 1913-16, 219, ÍF 34, 198 (ch. 85), Bibire 1988, 230.

Context: After the shipwreck, Rǫgnvaldr sent twelve of his men to stay with Einarr in Gulberwick (Gullberuvík), either at the present farm called Wick (ÍF 34, 198 n. 1) or ‘the old farm of Trebister’ (Taylor 1938, 391 n. 4).

Notes: [All]: In contrast to the st., which states that Einarr was only willing to offer hospitality to the jarl, the saga says that Einarr would only accept these men if the jarl came too (the translation of the st. in Skj B seems to have been influenced by the prose). The prose context also implies that Rǫgnvaldr spoke this st. before going in to Einarr’s farm, while l. 7 of the st. suggests the opposite. — [3] kemr ‘comes’: As pointed out by Kock (NN §2795), R702ˣ’s variant is required for the skothending. — [5-6]: Skj B (followed by Orkn 1913-16) adopts R702ˣ’s readings throughout these ll., giving veitk at vatzk í heitum; hann var ekki firum þekkr, interpreted more or less as ‘I know that he got entangled in threats; he was not beloved of men’. This makes good enough sense in itself but it is not clear how it relates to the rest of the st. The reading adopted here (largely following ÍF 34) is admittedly awkward and also hard to reconcile with the rest of the st., but is chosen in an attempt to make sense of the main ms. Ultimately, the lack of a detailed and unambiguous context for the st. makes it difficult to arrive at a definitive interpretation. — [5] hratzk ‘overturned’: This emendation, first suggested in ÍF 34, assumes a m. v. form of the verb hrinda ‘push, shove, overturn’. As this verb is rarely if ever recorded in the m. v. form, its exact meaning is hard to deduce, though ‘he overturned himself in his promises’ would give the sense of someone who has gone back on his word. — [7] gekk ‘I went’: Gekk must represent gekk ek ‘I went’: the 1st pers. sg. pron. is needed, but the alternative of inn gekk ek, þars brunnu eldar (as in R702ˣ, followed by Skj B) would require the pron. to bear the alliteration and would remove the kenning which indicates the menace felt by Rǫgnvaldr (see next Note). The mention of Óðinn in the first helmingr suggests that a parallel mention in the second helmingr is appropriate. — [7, 8] eldar Yggs ‘the fires of Yggr <= Óðinn> [SWORDS]’: The same kenning is used in Bjbp Jóms 26/1I, where the context (e.g. the verb kljúfa ‘cleave’) suggests that it refers to a ‘sword’ rather than more generically to a ‘weapon’, hence the translation adopted here. The implication is that Rǫgnvaldr is being received with swords rather than a welcoming hearth. The same kenning, with other names for Óðinn, occurs in earlier and contemporary poetry in GSúrs Lv 27/3V, KormǪ Sigdr 4/2III and HaukrV Ísldr 8/3IV. Bibire 1988 sees Odinic imagery and motifs throughout the st.

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