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
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, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

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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, 600-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

23 — Rv Lv 23II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 23’ 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. 600-2.

Landi víkr, en leika
lǫgr tér á við fǫgrum
— síð mun seggr at hróðri
seina — norðr at einu.
Þenna rístk með þunnu
— þýtr jarðar men — barði
einum út frá Spáni
ǫfundkrók í dag hróki.

Landi víkr norðr at einu, en lǫgr tér leika á fǫgrum við; seggr mun síð seina at hróðri. Rístk þenna ǫfundkrók út frá Spáni með þunnu barði í dag einum hróki; {men jarðar} þýtr.

The land veers north continuously, and the sea plays on the beautiful wood; the man [I] is slow to delay the poem. I cut this enmity-detour [lit. enmity-hook] away from Spain with a slender prow today for a certain scoundrel; {the necklace of the earth} [SEA] resounds.

Mss: Flat(140rb), R702ˣ(48r) (Orkn)

Readings: [1] leika: so R702ˣ, lauka Flat    [3] mun: man ek R702ˣ    [6] þýtr: so R702ˣ, ‘þytt’ Flat    [7] frá: so R702ˣ, fyrir Flat

Editions: Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 23: AI, 510, BI, 484, Skald I, 237, NN §2067; Flat 1860-8, II, 483, Orkn 1887, 169, Orkn 1913-16, 245, ÍF 34, 221-2 (ch. 87), Bibire 1988, 235.

Context: The jarl’s fleet having sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar, Eindriði ungi separates from it with six ships and heads towards Marseilles. Remarking that this reveals his guilt in allowing Guðifreyr to escape from the besieged castle, the jarl and his men sail a southerly route along the coast of Africa.

Notes: [2] á fǫgrum við ‘on the beautiful wood’: Viðr is probably here a pars pro toto for ship (Jesch 2001a, 134). — [5, 6, 8] rístk þenna ǫfundkrók með þunnu barði ‘I cut this enmity-detour [lit. enmity-hook] with a slender prow’: All are agreed that the krókr is the roundabout route taken by Rǫgnvaldr. The word ǫfundr can mean either ‘envy’ or ‘enmity’, likewise as the first element in compounds. While this particular cpd is not recorded elsewhere, ǫfundarkrókr, as defined by Fritzner, seems to have the appropriate meaning: med Kløgt udtænkt eller udført öfundarverk ‘a cunningly devised and carried out öfundarverk’, with the latter defined as a Gjerning hvortil man drives af Had eller Fiendskab ‘a deed to which one is driven by hate or enmity’. Rǫgnvaldr is forced to sail a different, and perhaps riskier, route by his enmity for Eindriði. This interpretation accords with the prose context, as Rǫgnvaldr’s ships then get into difficult weather conditions (see also Note to l. 8, below). Finnur Jónsson (Skj B and LP) and Bibire 1988 interpret ǫfund- as meaning ‘envy’, with the latter relating it to Rǫgnvaldr’s ‘increasingly tense relationship with Eindriði’. In both cases the manoeuvre is supposed to be one that arouses envy, though quite why is not clear. Kock (NN §2067) interprets ǫfund- as ‘hateful’, though it is not clear what his overall interpretation of the st. would be as a result. Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34) interprets the cpd as something done to annoy Eindriði, but relates it to an episode in ch. 85, when the fleet was leaving Bergen, rather than the more recent context. — [8] einum hróki ‘for a certain scoundrel’: Hrókr appears in a list of derogatory terms for men in SnE (W 1924, 104; SnE 1848-87, II, 496), and ‘scoundrel’ is an appropriate meaning in this context (see Note to st. 14/2 for his probable use of another term in the same list). There may however be an intended ambiguity, a subtext derived from chess (see st. 1/1). Hrókr is also the OIcel. word for ‘rook’, first recorded in Mágus saga jarls, probably composed around 1300 and clearly based on a French source. The word is of Persian origin but seems to have entered northern languages from Lat. via French (AEW). Rǫgnvaldr could have encountered the French term in France, or in the British Isles, as it is recorded in Anglo-Norman texts from the late C12th (Rothwell et al. 1991, 661). The Lat. form rocus is attested in the British Isles around 1150 (Latham 1965, 410). In this st., the rook would be Eindriði, moving in a straight line, and attacked by the knight, i.e. Rǫgnvaldr, the only chess-piece that can move diagonally (i.e. in a roundabout, or ‘hooked’, fashion). Hrókr also occurs in KormǪ Lv 13/6V.

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