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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)

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32 

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

SkP info: II, 578-9

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Rv Lv 3II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 3’ 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. 578-9.

Hér hefk hávan reistan
harðgeðjuðum varða
Dolls í døkkum helli
draug; leitak svá bauga.
Eigi veitk, hverr ýta
unnskíða ferr síðan
langa braut ok ljóta
leið of vatn it breiða.

Hér hefk reistan hávan varða harðgeðjuðum draug í døkkum Dollshelli; svá leitak bauga. Eigi veitk, hverr {ýta {unnskíða}} ferr síðan langa ok ljóta braut, leið of it breiða vatn.

Here I have raised a high cairn to a strong-minded ghost in dark Dollsteinshola; in this way I look for rings. I do not know who among {the pushers {of wave-skis}} [SHIPS > SEAFARERS] will go later the long and ugly way, the route across the broad lake.

Mss: 325I(6v), Flat(135va), R702ˣ(41r) (Orkn)

Readings: [4] draug: draugs R702ˣ    [5] veitk (‘veit ec’): veit Flat, R702ˣ;    hverr: hvé Flat;    ýta: ýtir R702ˣ    [6] unn‑: so Flat, R702ˣ, und 325I

Editions: Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 3: AI, 505, BI, 479, Skald I, 235, NN §§2060, 2990E; Flat 1860-8, II, 441-2, Orkn 1887, 97, Orkn 1913-16, 143-4, ÍF 34, 133 (ch. 61), Bibire 1988, 226.

Context: Ch. 61 of Orkn describes an adventure Kali had when his ship was caught by the weather and had to anchor off the island of Dolls (now Sandsøya in Sunnmøre, Norway). The travellers entered a large cave on the island in expectation of much treasure (féván mikil), but only Kali and a companion dared to cross the large lake in the cave, which they did roped together, Kali holding a torch in his hand and with a strike-a-light on his back. Having crossed the lake, they had trouble lighting the torch and decided to go no further, but made a cairn to commemorate their visit.

Notes: [2, 4] harðgeðjuðum draug ‘to a strong-minded ghost’: There is no mention of a ghost in the prose anecdote and it is likely that the st. describes the building of the cairn as a prophylactic and propitiatory act against a possible, rather than actual, ghost. As well as being a general term for ‘ghost’, draugr refers specifically to the dead inhabitant of a mound or cairn (LP; Fritzner; CVC). — [3] Dollshelli ‘Dollsteinshola’: Dollshellir lit. ‘Doll’s cave’ is given as the name of the cave in the prose and is taken so here (the cave is now called Dollsteinshola, on Sandsøya). Bibire 1988 prefers to construe Dolls with draug (l. 4) and translates ‘Dolls-zomby’. — [4] draug ‘ghost’: Masculine a-stem nouns often have no ending in the dat. sg. (ANG §358.3). — [7-8] langa braut ok ljóta, leið of it breiða vatn ‘the long and ugly way, the route across the broad lake’: The punctuation and interpretation of these ll. follow Kock (NN §2060). Skj B and ÍF 34 construe ljóta with leið.

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