Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)
11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;
1. Víkingarvísur (Víkv) - 15
2. Nesjavísur (Nesv) - 15
3. Austrfararvísur (Austv) - 21
4. Óláfsdrápa (Óldr) - 1
5. Vestrfararvísur (Vestv) - 8
6. Poem about Erlingr Skjálgsson (Erl) - 1
7. Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson (Erlfl) - 10
8. Tryggvaflokkr (Tryggfl) - 1
9. Poem about Queen Ástríðr (Ást) - 3
10. Knútsdrápa (Knútdr) - 11
11. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga (ErfÓl) - 28
12. Lausavísur (Lv) - 30
II. Bersǫglisvísur (Berv) - 18
III. Fragments (Frag) - 2
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).
Bersǫglisvísur (‘Plain-speaking Vísur’)
Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Bersǫglisvísur’ 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. 11-30.
Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 11. Bersǫglisvísur, o. 1038 (AI, 251-6, BI, 234-9); stanzas (if different): 1 |
SkP info: II, 23-4
12 — Sigv Berv 12II
Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Bersǫglisvísur 12’ 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. 23-4.
|Hætts, þats allir ætla
— áðr skal við því ráða —
hárir menn, es heyrik,
hót, skjǫldungi at móti.
|Greypts, þats hǫfðum hneppta,|
heldr, ok niðr í feldi
— slegit hefr þǫgn á þegna —
þingmenn nǫsum stinga.
Hætts hót, þats allir hárir menn, es heyrik, ætla at móti skjǫldungi; áðr skal ráða við því. Heldr greypts, þats þingmenn hneppta hǫfðum ok stinga nǫsum niðr í feldi; þǫgn hefr slegit á þegna.
The threat is dangerous when all grey-haired men, as I hear, intend [to revolt] against the ruler; that must be prevented in advance. It’s rather grim when assembly members hang their heads and stick their noses into their cloaks; silence has descended on your followers.
Mss: Kˣ(505r), 39(14vb), E(5v), J2ˣ(246r) (Hkr); Holm2(74v), 972ˣ(585va), 972ˣ(585vb), 325VI(42rb), 321ˣ(283), 73aˣ(216v-217r), 325VII(41v), 325V(89vb), 61(130va), Tóm(161v), Bb(206rb) (ÓH); Ágr(14va) (Ágr); FskAˣ(209) (Fsk, ll. 5-8, 1-4); H(4v), Hr(6rb) (H-Hr); 325XI 3(1v), Flat(190ra) (Flat); A(7v), W(110) (TGT, ll. 1-4)
Readings:  Hætts (‘Hætt er’): ‘hætr’ A, ‘Het’ W; þats (‘þat er’): þeim 325VI, 73aˣ, þeir er 321ˣ, því er Flat; allir: ‘[...]’ 325VII, ‘orir’ Bb; ætla: so 325VI, 321ˣ, 61, Ágr, FskAˣ, H, Hr, 325XI 3, Flat, A, W, heitask Kˣ, 39, ætlask E, J2ˣ, Holm2, 972ˣ(585va), 972ˣ(585vb), 73aˣ, 325V, Tóm, Bb, ‘hæzlar’(?) 325VII  skal: skaltu Flat; við: om. Tóm; því: ‘[...]’ 325VII; ráða: mæla J2ˣ, ‘[...]’ 325VII  hárir: ‘har’ 972ˣ(585vb), Tóm, ‘[...]’ 325VII, háir 61, ‘horir’ FskAˣ, ‘harr’ Hr, Haralds Flat; menn es heyrik (‘menn er ec heyri’): menn er heyri 972ˣ(585va), ‘menn en ec hæy[...]’ 325VII, mun ek enn ef ek heyri Tóm; menn: mér W; es (‘er’): en 325VII, 61, Bb, A, W  hót: ‘[...]o[...]’ 325VII, ‘hꜹtt’ Ágr; skjǫldungi: ‘skiolldundungi’ 321ˣ, skjǫldunga Tóm, ‘skꜹlldvngi’ 325XI 3; at: á 61, Tóm, Ágr, Hr, í Bb, 325XI 3, Flat, om. W  Greypts (‘greypt er’): greyp er 61, Tóm, gneyft er Ágr, FskAˣ, ‘gryftt er’ 325XI 3; þats (‘þat er’): so 39, Holm2, 972ˣ(585va), 972ˣ(585vb), 325VI, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 325VII, 325V, Bb, Ágr, FskAˣ, Hr, 325XI 3, Flat, þat Kˣ, 61, om. E, J2ˣ, H, vér Tóm; hǫfðum: ‘havfvm’ Tóm, hǫfðut Bb; hneppta: so 39, 325VI, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, H, Flat, ‘hnøpta’ Kˣ, ‘hneypta’ E, J2ˣ, Holm2, 972ˣ(585va), 972ˣ(585vb), 325V, 61, Hr, ‘hnæypta’ 325VII, FskAˣ, ‘hnypta’ Tóm, ‘noftta’ Bb, hnistir Ágr, ‘hnefta’ 325XI 3  ok: om. 61; í: en 325VII, om. 325XI 3, Flat; feldi: felda 39, E, J2ˣ, Holm2, 972ˣ(585va), 972ˣ(585vb), 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 325V, Tóm, Bb, FskAˣ, feldinn 61  slegit hefr: ‘[...]’ 325VII; hefr: ‘hofr’ 39; á: yfir Flat; þegna: ‘þeg[...]a’ 325VII, þagna Bb  þing‑: ‘þ[...]g’ 325VII
Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 11. Bersǫglisvísur 12: AI, 254-5, BI, 237, Skald I, 123, NN §§1868, 1982; ÍF 28, 30 (Mgóð ch. 16), E 1916, 18; ÓH 1941, I, 626 (ch. 261); ÍF 29, 33 (ch. 34), Ágr 1995, 46-9 (ch. 35); ÍF 29, 214-15 (ch. 48); Fms 6, 43 (Mgóð ch. 22); Louis-Jensen 1970b, 149, Flat 1860-8, III, 269, Mork 1928-32, 29, Andersson and Gade 107, 467 (MH); Jón Skaptason 1983, 149, 294-5; SnE 1848-87, II, 176-7, 424, TGT 1884, 30, 112, TGT 1927, 84, 107.
Context: In TGT, ll. 1-4 are given as an example of anastrophus ‘anastrophe’, i.e. inversion of w. o., in which the prep. at móti ‘against’ is placed after the noun it qualifies (skjǫldungi ‘ruler’).
Notes:  ætla ‘intend [to revolt]’: Verbs of motion (here: ‘revolt, go against’) can be suppressed with the verb ætla. The variant m. v. ætlask lit. ‘intend for themselves’ (so Skj B; Skald; ÍF 28) is also possible, but, because ætla is higher up on the stemma, that form has been adopted in the present edn. —  hárir menn ‘grey-haired men’: Indicating that the impending uprising against Magnús is premeditated and not an act of youthful rashness. —  hót ‘threat’: Skj B construes this with the cl. es heyrik ‘as I hear’ (l. 3). —  hneppta ‘hang’: Hap. leg. The different spellings show that the scribes had problems understanding the word. The verb hneppta is derived from hnepptr ‘scanty, narrow, scarce’, p. p. of hneppa ‘squeeze, force’, and the sense is that the assembly members are bowing their heads down and forcing their noses into their cloaks (see LP: hnepta). —  í feldi (m. dat. sg.) ‘into their cloaks’: Lit. ‘into the cloak’. The variant form felda (m. acc. pl.; so Skj B; Skald; ÍF 29, 214-15) implies motion (into the cloaks), whereas the dat. feldi indicates ‘motion in situ’. Hiding one’s head in a cloak is an indication of unhappiness and frustration (see ÍF 2, 148; Egill Lv 16/5-8V; Note to Anon (MH) ). —  þegna (m. acc. pl.) ‘followers’: Here þegnar seems to include people who were in close allegiance with Magnús (like Sigvatr himself) rather than ‘subjects’ in general (see Note to st. 11/2 above). —  þingmenn ‘assembly members’: A þingmaðr was a man belonging to a specific legal district (þing), and the word is translated here (somewhat loosely) as ‘assembly member’.