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Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (Rv)

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

III. Lausavísur (Lv) - 3

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 LvIII

Judith Jesch 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 342.

stanzas:  33   34   35 

Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson: Lausavísur [33-35] (AI, 505-12, BI, 478-87)

SkP info: III, 342

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

33 — Rv Lv 33III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 33’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 342.

Hvat munk yðr eða ǫðrum
ulfbrynndum kynna
— heiðs lofak hilmi blíðan
háranns — nema goð sannan?

Hvat munk kynna yðr eða {ǫðrum ulfbrynndum} nema sannan goð? Lofak {blíðan hilmi {heiðs háranns}}.

What will I make known to you and {other wolf-waterers} [WARRIORS] except the true God? I praise {the gracious ruler {of the bright high hall}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God].

Mss: W(168) (SnE); papp10ˣ(47v), 1494ˣ(60r), 2368ˣ(112), 743ˣ(86r) (LaufE)

Readings: [2] ‑brynndum: ‘‑bryníndum’ W, ‑brynjuðum papp10ˣ, 1494ˣ, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ    [3] hilmi: hjalmi W, papp10ˣ, 743ˣ, hjalma 1494ˣ, hjalms 2368ˣ

Editions: Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 33: AI, 512, BI, 487, Skald I, 239; SnE 1848-87, II, 498, III, 177; LaufE 1979, 290, 370; Bibire 1988, 239.

Context: Along with Arn Hryn 6/1-4II, this quatrain is quoted as an example of kennings in which a man is said to be the fattener or feeder of carrion birds or wolves.

Notes: [All]: Despite his pilgrimage to the Holy Land (see his Biography in SkP II), Rǫgnvaldr is not particularly noted for piety in his surviving poetry. However, this stanza would fit well with Rv Lv 29II, in which Rǫgnvaldr encourages his men to approach the holy places with humble devotion as they near Jerusalem on their return from the Jordan. — [2] ulfbrynndum ‘wolf-waterers [WARRIORS]’: This emendation is adopted from Skj B. Although such a kenning would be unique, there are close parallels in which a wolf-term is compounded with a participial agent noun referring to its feeding, e.g. ulfnistandi ‘wolf-feeder’ (ESk Hardr I 1/6II) and vargseðjandi ‘wolf-sater’ (Anon (Orkn) 1/6II); see also Meissner 346. In this particular case, ‘wolf-waterers’ are warriors quenching the thirst of wolves with blood. Despite the prose context (see Context, above), which suggests that this emendation is correct, LaufE X, faced with the reading ulfbrynjuðum (m. dat. pl.) lit. ‘wolf-armoured ones’, goes on to explain the kenning as hier er madurinn kiendur, ulfbriniadur, so sem væri hann ofan j ulfin komin ‘here the man is said to be “wolf-armoured,” as if he had entered the wolf’ (LaufE 1979, 290). The Y branch (LaufE 1979, 370) only has hier er madur kalladur ulfbryniadur ‘here the man is called “wolf-armoured”’.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated