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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;

3. Austrfararvísur (Austv) - 21

Sigvatr or Sighvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) is said (ÍF 27, 54) to have been the son of Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’, an Icelander who served, in succession, Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson, leader of the Jómsvíkingar, his brother Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, who campaigned in England, and Óláfr Haraldsson, later king of Norway (r. c. 1015-30) and saint. Þórðr is listed as one of Sigvaldi’s skalds in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 259, 268), but none of his poetry survives. The family tradition of poetry can also be traced in Óttarr svarti ‘the Black’, said to have been Sigvatr’s sister’s son (ÍF 27, 144; ÓH 1941, I, 203). Sigvatr was brought up by a certain Þorkell, at Apavatn in south-west Iceland. When nearly fully grown he sailed to what is now Trondheim, where he met up with his father and joined King Óláfr’s retinue. According to Snorri (ÍF 27, 54-6; ÓH 1941, I, 81-3), Sigvatr recited Lv 2-3 at this time, and he interceded with the king on behalf of Icelandic merchants forced to pay a heavy tax in Norway (cf. Sigv Lv 4). It is also likely that this is when Þórðr provided Sigvatr with the material for Víkv (see Introduction to Sigv Víkv), which may be the poem referred to in the prose introduction to Sigv Lv 2 (Fidjestøl 1982, 118). There is no evidence that Sigvatr ever returned to Iceland, and according to the anecdote in which Sigv Lv 11 is preserved, he died on the island of Selja in north-western Norway and was buried at Kristskirkja (Kristkirken) in Trondheim. His poetry records his various journeys to Sweden, England and the Continent, as well as incidents in Norway. We know nothing of Sigvatr’s private life, except that he had a daughter called Tófa, who had King Óláfr himself as her godfather (Sigv Lv 19).

Sigvatr’s surviving poetic oeuvre is both large and remarkably diverse, encompassing different kinds of encomia not only on King Óláfr (Sigv Víkv, Sigv Nesv, Sigv Óldr, Sigv ErfÓl), but also on King Knútr of Denmark (Sigv Knútdr) and the Norwegian nobleman Erlingr Skjálgsson (Sigv Erl, Sigv Erlfl). Sigvatr was godfather to King Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and composed some avuncular words of advice to the boy-king (Sigv BervII). All of these patrons are recognised in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 252-4, 258, 260-2, 269), where Sigvatr is also credited with having composed for the Swedish king Ǫnundr Óláfsson (although no such poetry survives, cf. Sigv Knútdr 4/6) and the Norwegian chieftain Ívarr inn hvíti ‘the White’ (cf. Context to Sigv Lv 8). Sigvatr also composed a poem on the Norwegian pretender Tryggvi Óláfsson (Sigv Tryggfl) and is unique in having composed in dróttkvætt in praise of a woman, Óláfr Haraldsson’s widow Ástríðr Óláfsdóttir (Sigv Ást). Several of Sigvatr’s poems are more or less loosely connected sequences of stanzas rather than more formal compositions, and encompass both travelogue (Sigv Austv) and political commentary (Sigv Vestv, Sigv BervII). The latter genre is also well represented in his lausavísur, which also include some remarkably personal stanzas expressing his grief at the death of King Óláfr (Sigv Lv 22-4). Sigvatr’s status as a hǫfuðskáld ‘chief skald’ was recognised in the twelfth century (cf. Esk Geisl 12/8VII). His versatility as a poet has clearly inspired a number of anecdotes focusing on the composition of poetry, mostly of doubtful authenticity (cf. Contexts to Sigv Lv 1, 8, 11, 27; also Introduction to Ótt Hfl). Apart from two fragments preserved in SnE (Sigv Frag 1-2III), Sigvatr’s poetry is transmitted in a wide range of texts within the tradition of the kings’ sagas and is therefore edited in this volume or (in the case of the late Sigv Berv) in SkP II. For general studies of Sigvatr’s life and works, see Paasche (1917), Hollander (1940) and Petersen (1946).

Austrfararvísur (‘Verses on a Journey to the East’) — Sigv AustvI

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Austrfararvísur’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 578.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21 

Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 3. Austrfararvísur, 1019 (AI, 233-40, BI, 220-5)

SkP info: I, 597

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

10 — Sigv Austv 10I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Austrfararvísur 10’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 597.

Snjalls létum skip skolla
skjǫldungs við ey tjǫlduð
fyr ágætu úti
ǫndvert sumar landi.
Enn í haust, es hestar
hagþorns á mó sporna
(ték ýmissar) Ekkils,
(íðir) hlýtk at ríða.

Létum skip snjalls skjǫldungs skolla tjǫlduð ǫndvert sumar úti við ey fyr ágætu landi. Enn hlýtk at ríða í haust, es {hestar Ekkils} sporna á {mó hagþorns}; ték ýmissar íðir.

We let the ship of the valiant monarch [Óláfr] skulk with its awnings up at the beginning of summer out by an island opposite some excellent country. But it is my lot to ride in autumn, when {the horses of Ekkill <sea-king>} [SHIPS] tread on {the hawthorn’s moor} [LAND]; I report various doings.

Mss: Holm2(17v), 325V(22vb), R686ˣ(35v), 972ˣ(122va-123va), 325VI(15vb), 75a(8ra), 73aˣ(46v), 78aˣ(45v), 68(16v), 61(88va), Holm4(9ra), 75c(9v), 325VII(8v), Flat(85va), Tóm(106v) (ÓH); Kˣ(272r), Bb(143va) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] Snjalls: snjallr 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 325VII, Flat, ‘Snalldz’ 75c;    létum: lét um 73aˣ, 78aˣ, Flat;    skip: skíð 68    [2] ‑ungs: ‑ungr 75c;    tjǫlduð: ‘tilld vt’ 325V, tjaldað 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ    [3] ágætu: ágætum 61;    úti: ‘u[…]’ 78aˣ    [4] ǫndvert: ‘o᷎ndítt’ 73aˣ    [5] es (‘er’): þá er 61, þar er Kˣ;    hestar: hæstar 325VII    [6] hag‑: haf‑ 68, 61, 75c, Flat, Tóm;    ‑þorns: þorn 73aˣ, ‘‑þors’ Tóm;    á mó: ‘amo’ R686ˣ, Holm4, 75c, Flat, ‘aíno’ Bb;    sporna: spornat 78aˣ    [7] ték (‘te ec’): tæ ek 325V, 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ, 68, 325VII, fekk 61, tek ek Holm4, Flat, Kˣ, ræð ek Tóm;    ýmissar: ýmsum 972ˣ;    Ekkils: so Kˣ, ekkjum Holm2, 68, ekkjur 325V, R686ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 61, Holm4, 75c, Flat, Tóm, ‘ækiur’ 325VII, eikjum Bb    [8] íðir: ‘iþ(r)r’(?) R686ˣ, ‘iðil’ 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ, iðnir 73aˣ, 68, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, iðit 61;    hlýtk: hlýt 325V, Flat, ‘hlytt’ R686ˣ, ‘hlite’ 972ˣ, ‘hlyck’ 325VI, ‘hlyt’ 75a, hlýsk 78aˣ, hlýt with a letter above t 68, hlautk Holm4, Kˣ

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 3. Austrfararvísur 10: AI, 236, BI, 222-3, Skald I, 116, NN §628; Fms 4, 136, Fms 12, 82, ÓH 1941, I, 135 (ch. 53), Flat 1860-8, II, 58; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 82, VI, 81, Hkr 1868, 274 (ÓHHkr ch. 70), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 113, ÍF 27, 93, Hkr 1991, I, 315 (ÓHHkr ch. 71); Ternström 1871, 8-11, 40, Jón Skaptason 1983, 91, 241.

Context: As for st. 9.

Notes: [6] á mó hagþorns ‘on the hawthorn’s moor [LAND]’: The point is that ships are drawn up onto land at the onset of winter – and so is the poet as he rides reluctantly on his mission. (a) The phrase adequately conveys the sense ‘dry land’. As a kenning it is not very convincing, but the alternatives are arguably not more so. (b) Kock (NN §628) interprets gen. hagþorns adjectivally to mean ‘overgrown with hawthorns’, so that hagþorns is not a kenning (so also ÍF 27). (c) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B, but cf. LP: hagþorn) construes hagþorns with hestar Ekkils ‘the horses of Ekkill <sea-king> [SHIPS]’ in l. 5; but it is superfluous in that kenning, and there is no apparent reason to associate hawthorns with ships. (d) Meissner 88 suggests emending to mar ‘sea’, producing an eccentric kenning but one that would have logic as the inverse of the pattern láð þangs ‘land of sea-weed [SEA]’. The range of the hawthorn in Norway and Sweden has played a role in attempts to identify Sigvatr’s route for the journey and the season of his departure: see Beckman (1923, 331); Beckman (1934, 213); Edqvist (1943, 70-1). — [7, 8] ték ýmissar íðir ‘I report various doings’: As Finnur Jónsson (1932, 9) observes, the point is simply to contrast the different kinds of ‘riding’ in the two helmingar. For ték ‘I report’, Noreen (1923, 38) would read tekk ‘I take’ with and Holm4, on questionable stemmatic grounds, and regardless of sense. — [7] Ekkils ‘of Ekkill <sea-king>’: (a) Though unique to , Ekkils is surely correct, being the lectio difficilior. (b) Some eds adopt the reading ekkjum of some mss, with the poetic meaning ‘women’ (lit. ‘widows’) and place it in the intercalary clause, with the result that it is horses rather than ships that tread the land in autumn (Ternström 1871; ÍF 27; Jón Skaptason 1983, 91). — [8] hlýtk ‘it is my lot’: The reading hlautk ‘it was my lot’ of and Holm4, as recommended by Noreen (1923, 38), is adopted in some eds (ÍF 27; Hkr 1991), but it seems likelier that the poet is contrasting past contentment with present discontent, and at all events he treats his riding as taking place in the present moment in the following stanza, with its pres.-tense verbs. It is easier to explain why hlýtk should have been altered to hlautk by a copyist, to agree with pret. létum ‘we let’ in l. 1, than the reverse.

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