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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, ‘(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, 607-8

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

31 — Rv Lv 31II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 31’ 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. 607-8.

Ríðum Ræfils Vakri!
Rekuma plóg af akri!
Erjum úrgu barði
út at Miklagarði!
Þiggjum þengils mála!
Þokum framm í gný stála!
Rjóðum gylðis góma!
Gerum ríks konungs sóma!

Ríðum {Vakri Ræfils}! Rekuma plóg af akri! Erjum úrgu barði út at Miklagarði! Þiggjum mála þengils! Þokum framm í {gný stála}! Rjóðum góma gylðis! Gerum sóma ríks konungs!

Let’s ride {the Vakr <horse> of Ræfill <sea-king>} [SHIP]! Let’s not drive the plough from the field! Let’s plough with a drenched prow out to Constantinople! Let’s receive the wages of the prince! Let’s move forward in {the din of weapons} [BATTLE]! Let’s redden the gums of the wolf! Let’s create the honour for the powerful king!

Mss: 325I(13r), R702ˣ(50v) (Orkn); Flat(141ra)

Readings: [2] a: ei 325I, eigi Flat, R702ˣ;    af: ór R702ˣ    [7] gylðis: ‘gilldris’ R702ˣ

Editions: Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 31: AI, 511, BI, 486, Skald I, 238, NN §3236; Flat 1860-8, II, 488, Orkn 1887, 178, Orkn 1913-16, 258, ÍF 34, 235-6 (ch. 88), Bibire 1988, 238.

Context: Sailing north to Byzantium, Rǫgnvaldr’s fleet sail með prís miklum, sem þeir vissu, at gǫrt hafði Sigurðr Jórsalafari ‘in great style, as they knew Sigurðr jórsalafari had done’ (ÍF 34, 235).

Notes: [All]: For similar exhortatory sts from the C12th, see Nefari Lv and Blakkr Lv 1. The metre of this st. however is in minzta runhenda, as defined in SnE and exemplified in SnSt Ht 88III (SnE 1999, 35-6); see Notes to Hbreiðm Lv and Árm Lv 3. — [3] erjum úrgu barði ‘let’s plough with a drenched prow’: With the exception of the Djulefors stone (Sö 65), this is the earliest surviving use in Scandinavian culture of the widespread metaphor in which a ship is figured as ‘ploughing’ the sea (Jesch 2001a, 177). — [5-8]: In the following ch. (89) of Orkn, Rǫgnvaldr and his men are well received in Byzantium by Emperor Menelías (Manuel I) and it is even said that the jarl was given much money by the emperor, but there is no further detail about the ways in which the crusaders earned their keep.

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