This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

login: password: stay logged in: help

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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 2 July 2022)

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, 599

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

11 — Sigv Austv 11I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Austrfararvísur 11’ 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. 599.

Jór rinnr aptanskœru
allsvangr gǫtur langar;
vǫll kná hófr til hallar
— hǫfum lítinn dag — slíta.
Nús, þats blakkr of bekki
berr mik Dǫnum ferri;
fákr laust drengs í díki
— dœgr mœtask nú — fœti.

Allsvangr jór rinnr langar gǫtur aptanskœru; hófr kná slíta vǫll til hallar; hǫfum lítinn dag. Nús, þats blakkr berr mik of bekki ferri Dǫnum; fákr drengs laust fœti í díki; dœgr mœtask nú.

[My] famished steed runs on the long tracks in the twilight; the hoof can tear the ground on the way to the hall; we have little daylight. Now it is that [my] dark mount carries me over streams far from the Danes; the good fellow’s [my] charger struck with its foot [stumbled] in a ditch; night and day meet now.

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

Readings: [1] rinnr (‘renn’): rinnir 78aˣ;    ‑skœru: ‘skioro’ R686ˣ, ‑skœrur 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 61, Holm4, ‘skætu’ Tóm    [2] ‑svangr: ‑strangr 73aˣ    [3] vǫll kná: ‘uollka’ corrected from ‘uollkar’ R686ˣ;    hófr: hóf 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ, ‘ho᷎fr’ 73aˣ    [4] lítinn: so 325V, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 68, 61, Holm4, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Kˣ, lítin Holm2, 972ˣ, Tóm, Bb, ‘litt[…]’ R686ˣ    [5] þats (‘þat er’): þat 325VI, 78aˣ, Tóm;    blakkr: ‘blakr’ R686ˣ;    of: enn Tóm;    bekki: bleki R686ˣ, ‘bælki’ Tóm    [6] berr: ‘berer’ R686ˣ, bar 78aˣ;    ferri: fœrri 75c    [7] fákr: corrected from ‘fakar’ R686ˣ;    laust: lystr Holm4    [8] nú: svá 325VI, 78aˣ, hér Holm4

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 3. Austrfararvísur 11: AI, 236, BI, 223, Skald I, 116, NN §1861; Fms 4, 136, Fms 12, 82, ÓH 1941, I, 136 (ch. 53), Flat 1860-8, II, 58; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 82, VI, 81-2, Hkr 1868, 274 (ÓHHkr ch. 70), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 114, ÍF 27, 93-4, Hkr 1991, I, 315 (ÓHHkr ch. 71); Ternström 1871, 10-11, 40-1, Jón Skaptason 1983, 92, 241.

Context: As for sts 9-10, though it is now evening.

Notes: [3] vǫll : hallar: Frank (1978, 74) points out the rhyme of ǫ with a in this odd line, where skothending is expected, though ǫ : a and ô : á occur elsewhere in the poem as aðalhendingar (see the Note to st. 3/8). However, aðalhending in place of skothending is by no means rare in Sigvatr’s works: Höskuldur Þráinsson (1970, 25-7) identifies fifty-four examples, exclusive of fourteen examples of a : ǫ . — [3] til hallar ‘to the hall’: The phrase is here taken with slíta vǫll ‘tear the ground’ in ll. 3-4, as by Kock (NN §1861, followed by ÍF 27; Hkr 1991), which produces simpler word order. It could alternatively be connected with gǫtur ‘ways’ in l. 2, as in Skj B.  — [6] ferri Dǫnum ‘farther from Danes’: There is no universally agreed explanation for this phrase. Beckman (1923, 331, but cf. Beckman 1934, 212-13) explains it as meaning ‘along the way from the Danes’, i.e. after passing Stora Hov, Sigvatr took the road from Lödöse and Halland, which was then Danish territory. Barði Guðmundsson (1927, 549-50) supposes that Sigvatr composed this stanza on the return journey from Västergötland, which, he argues, was then under Danish control. Sahlgren (1927-8, I, 187-8; similarly Turville-Petre, 1976, 80) suggests that the import of the remark is that the political situation of the day was such that it would have been dangerous for Sigvatr to travel anywhere near Danish territory. Schreiner (1927-9c, 42-3) imagines that an earlier phase of the journey took Sigvatr sailing through Øresund, with Danish territory on both sides. The eds of Hkr 1991 suggest that Sigvatr may have had in mind that the Swedes and their king would turn out to be more effective opponents to King Óláfr than the Danes had been. Frank (1978, 74) interprets the phrase to mean ‘inland’, i.e. ‘away from the seaboard which was largely Danish territory’. See also Toll (1925, 157-8). — [7, 8] fákr drengs laust fœti í díki ‘the good fellow’s [my] charger struck with its foot [stumbled] in a ditch’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) supposes that díki refers to a brook (bækken). To the horse’s stumbling, Frank (1978, 73) cites parallels in the sagas that bear connotations of bad luck and fate. The use of drengr ‘good fellow, warrior’ is probably ironic or mock-heroic here; cf. Note to st. 5/2. — [8] dœgr mœtask nú ‘night and day meet now’: Edqvist (1943, 69) suggests this may mean not simply that it is now twilight but that now morning and evening twilight meet, with the implication that it is now midsummer (since he supposes the journey to have begun in the spring). Dœgr, here pl., more strictly refers to a period of either twelve or twenty-four hours.

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