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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 20 September 2021)

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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, 596-7

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

18 — Rv Lv 18II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 18’ 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. 596-7.

Muna munk jól, þaus ólum
austr gjaldkera hraustum,
Ullr, at Egða fjǫllum,
undleygs, með Sǫlmundi.
Nú gerik enn of ǫnnur
jafnglaðr, sem vask þaðra,
sverðs at sunnanverðum
svarm kastala barmi.

{Ullr {undleygs}}, munk muna jól, þaus ólum austr at Egða fjǫllum með Sǫlmundi, hraustum gjaldkera. Nú, jafnglaðr, sem vask þaðra, gerik enn of ǫnnur {svarm sverðs} at sunnanverðum barmi kastala.

{Ullr <god> {of the wound-flame}} [SWORD > WARRIOR], I will remember the Christmases when we entertained in the east beside Agder’s mountains with Sǫlmundr, the valorous steward. Now, just as glad as I was there, I make, once again, throughout another [Christmas], {a swarm of the sword} [BATTLE] at the southern perimeter of the castle.

Mss: Flat(140rb), R702ˣ(47r) (Orkn)

Readings: [1] ólum: ‘ǫlumz’ R702ˣ    [4] undleygs: ‘vnnlógs’ R702ˣ;    ‑leygs: ‘ley⸜r⸝giar’ Flat    [6] þaðra: so R702ˣ, ‘þeirra’ Flat

Editions: Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 18: AI, 509, BI, 483, Skald I, 237, NN §1155; Flat 1860-8, II, 481, Orkn 1887, 166, Orkn 1913-16, 241, ÍF 34, 217 (ch. 87), Bibire 1988, 233.

Context: After the beginning of the attack on the Galician castle described in st. 17, ch. 87 of Orkn recounts the fighting in some detail. During a lull, three sts (sts 18-19, Sigm Lv 1) are recited.

Notes: [1] ólum ‘we entertained’: While Kock NN §1155 maintains that there is no expression ala jól (and prefers the R702ˣ variant), Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34) claims that it means ‘to feed a person during Christmas’. Contrary to Kock’s idea that Rǫgnvaldr is remembering the Christmases when he enjoyed his kinsman’s hospitality, an active verb seems to be required both by the prep. með ‘with’ (l. 4) and the parallelism with the second helmingr (cf. enn ‘once again’ in l. 5). The idea is that once Rǫgnvaldr and Sǫlmundr used to provide food for Christmas together (note that the saga says that the two men were jafnaldrar ‘of a similar age’, ÍF 34, 130). Now, by contrast, Rǫgnvaldr is providing food for the beasts of battle, an idea which is implicit in this st. but explicit in the closely-related st. 19 below. The full rhyme in an odd l. is the more acceptable given that it also occurs in l. 7. — [2, 3] austr at Egða fjǫllum; gjaldkera ‘in the east beside Agder’s mountains; steward’: Ch. 58 of Orkn notes that, in his youth, Kali spent time with his kinsman Sǫlmundr, who was the gjaldkeri in Tønsberg and a chieftain with a large following and an estate in Aust-Agder. Fritzner: gjaldkeri defines the term as Kongens Ombudsmand i Kjøbstaden, som der havde at opkræve hans Indtægter, holde tilbørlig Orden og sørge for Retspleien ‘the king’s official in the trading-centre, who was there to collect his income, keep appropriate order and administer justice’. — [3] at Egða fjǫllum ‘beside Agder’s mountains’: Lit. ‘beside the mountains of the Egðir (the people of Agder)’. — [4] undleygs ‘of the wound-flame’: The Flat. variant undleygjar, though chosen by most eds, is unmetrical. As the m. noun undleygr could have a gen. sg. in either -s or -jar (LP), the emendation is an obvious one, supported by the variant in R702ˣ, which could easily be a scribal error for this form.

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