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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

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

2. Nesjavísur (Nesv) - 15

Skj info: Sigvatr Þórðarson, Islandsk skjald, o. 995-o. 1045 (AI, 223-75, BI, 213-54).

Skj poems:
1. Víkingarvísur
2. Nesjavísur
3. Austrfararvísur
4. En drape om kong Olaf
5. Vestrfararvísur
6. Et kvad om Erlingr Skjalgsson
7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson
8. Tryggvaflokkr
9. Et digt om dronning Astrid
10. Knútsdrápa
11. Bersǫglisvísur
12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga
13. Lausavísur
14. Et par halvvers af ubestemmelige digte

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).

Nesjavísur (‘Vísur about Nesjar’) — Sigv NesvI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘ Sigvatr Þórðarson, Nesjavísur’ 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. 555. <> (accessed 18 September 2021)

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15 

Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 2. Nesjavísur, 1016 (AI, 228-32, BI, 217-20); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 14

SkP info: I, 561

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Sigv Nesv 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Note: The following transcriptions have been entered to aid the editing process. These may not have been fully reviewed and checked and may therefore not be reliable. You may wish to consult the manuscript images. Any corrections can be notified to the database editor.

 Kx Þat erumc kunt hve keɴir | karlhǫfða lét jarli | odda frostz fyr ꜹstan | agðir ner um lagðan |   [KSH]  edit 
 papp18x Þat er unnc⸌vm⸍ kunt hue kenir. karla hǫfþa let jarli | odda frostz fyr ꜹstaɴ, agþir ner vm lagþan,.   [KSH]  edit 
 Holm2 Þat erom | kunt hve kennir karlhaufða let iarli odda frorz fyr austan agðer nę́r of lagðan. |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 R686x Þat er um kunt hue kenner, | karlahofda let jarlli, odda frostz firi austan, | agdr nær of lagdan.   [KSH]  edit 
 972x þat er um kunt hue kiennir karlshofda liet jarli Odda=frost fyri austan Agdir nær of=lagdan   [KSH]  edit 
 J1x þar erum kunt | huæ kennir karllhaufða let iarlli odda frostz | fyr austan agðr nær of lagdan   [KSH]  edit 
 J2x þat erum kunnt hve kennir Karlhꜷfþa let iarle oddafrostz fyr ꜷstann agþir nær of lagðan   [KSH]  edit 
 325VI Þat ervm | kvnnt hve kennir karllhǫfda let iarlli od | da frost firir austan agdir næʀ of lagdan |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 73ax þat er vm knítt hue kennir | karlho᷎fðann liet iarlí. | oddafrostz fyrir austan | agðír næʀ oflagðan: |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 78ax Þat erum kunt hve kennir | karll hofða let iarlli. | odda frost fyrir austan. | agðir nærr of lagðan. |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 68 Þat erom kvɴt hve keɴir karlhofðe let Jarli odda frestz fyr avstan agþir nǽr of lagþan.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 61 Þat er af kunnt hve keɴir . karlho᷎fdann lét iarli eɢia | frostz fyr austann . adþir nerr of lagdan.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Holm4 Þat erom kunt hue ken | nir karlhøfða let Jarli odda frostz fyrir ꜹstan ag | ðír ne᷎r umlagðan.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 325V Þat | ervm kvɴt hve keɴir · ka⸌r⸍ll havfða | let Jarli · odda frostz firir avstan · agðir ner | um lagðí ·   [VEÞ]  edit 
 325VII Þatum kunt hue kænnir karll | hofða let iarlli odda fro⸌ꜹ⸍z firir austan agðer nǽr oflagðan ᷎   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Bb Þat ervm kvnt hver kennir ka⸌r⸍lhofda let Jarli | odda ṭfrost fyrir ꜹstan . agdir ner of lagdan. |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Flat Þat | er kunnt hue kennir kall hofda let ialli odda frostz firir austan agdir | nærr um lagda ·   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Tóm Þar erum kunnr hue kenner ᷎ karlhaufde let Jarlí odda pentz fyrir avstan ᷎ agdir nœ̨r vm lagdan.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 DG8 Þat erom | kunt er ⸌hve⸍ kænnír, karlhofða let Iarle, orða frozt fir austan, agðer nær um ⸌of⸍ | lagðan.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 FskBx þat erom kunnt hve kæmner karllhofða let iarle. odda froz firir austann agðer nær um lagðan   [KSH]  edit 
 51x þat erom kunt hve kænnir karllhofða let Iarle odda froz firir austan agðer nær um lagðan   [KSH]  edit 
 302x þat erom kunt hve kænnir karllhofða let jarle odda froz firir austan agðer nær um lagðan.   [KSH]  edit 
 FskAx Þat er oss kunt hvæi kenner karlhofða let iarle Odda frons firir austann agðer ner um laghðan   [KSH]  edit 
 301x Þet er oss || kunnt hvæi kennir, karlhofða let Jarlle odda fro | ns firir austann aghðer ner um laghðan,   [KSH]  edit 

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