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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 28 September 2021)

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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, 569

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — Sigv Nesv 9I

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  Ǫlld vaɴ ossa sciolldo | ꜹðsætt var þat rꜹða | hlioms þar er hvitir comu | hringmiðløndom þingat | þar hycc ungan gram gengo | guɴsylgs er ver fylgðom | bloðs fecc svǫʀ þar er slæðuz | sverþ up i scip gerþo |   [KSH]  edit 
 papp18x Ǫlld van ossa - | skiolldo, ꜹþsætt var þat rꜹþa, hliomz þá er huytir como, hringmidlǫmþom | þingat, þar hicc ungan gram gingo, guɴsilgz er ver fylgþom, Blods | fekk su ǫr þar er slæþuz, suerþ uppi skip gerþo.   [KSH]  edit 
 Holm2 Aulld vann oss a scioldv avðsętt var þat ravða hliom þa er | hvitir komo hringmiðlondum þingat þar hycc øngan gram gavngv gvnnsylg en ver | fylgðom bloðs fec svavrṭ þar er slęðvz sverð upp i scip gørðv.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 R686x Olld uan ossa skiolldo, avdsætt uar þar rauþa, hliom | þa er huitr komo, hringmidlendum þingat; þar hyk | ungan gram gengv, gall strengr ein ua þængill, blod | fek suanr þar er slædust, suerþ upp i skip gierdu.   [KSH]  edit 
 972x Auld vann voss a skioldo aud=sætt var þat, rauda hliom þa er huitir komo hring mid lundum þingit: þar hyk ungan gram gaungu gunsylg er vier fylgdum blod feck svanur þar er slædast huerd uppi skip gerdu.   [KSH]  edit 
 J1x Aulld vann oꜱa sk | iolldu auþsætt var þat rauða hliom þat ær hvitir | komu hringmiðlænnðum þingat : hyk unn | dan gram gengu gunnsylg ænn ver fylgdum | blodfek saur þat ær sleduz sverþ up i skip gerðu :   [KSH]  edit 
 J2x Aulld vann ossa skioldu ꜷðsætt ver þat rꜷða hliom þar er hvitir komu hringmiðlendum þingat hyck undann gram gengu gunnsylg enn ver fylgþum bloð fesk saur þar er slęduz sverþ up i scip gerðu   [KSH]  edit 
 325VI Aulld hef ⸌vann⸍ oss a skioll | dvm avdsætt var þat rauda hliom þa er hvi | tir kvómv hringmidlǫngum þíngat þar hygg | vngan gram gengv gvnnsylg en vær fylgdvm | blod feck svanr þar er sæfduz ⸌sverd⸍ vpp i skip gior | dv   [VEÞ]  edit 
 75a Aulld vann oss a skiolldvm. aúð sætt | var þat rav́ða. hlióm þa er hvítir có | mo. hring miðlav́ngum þingat. þar | hygg vngan gram gengo. gvnnsy | lg en ver fylgðvm. bloð fec svanr þar | er slæfðvz. suerð upp iskip gerðo. |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 73ax Olld vann ossa skio᷎lldu | audsætt var þat hauða || hlíoms þa er huítir komu | hríngmíðludum þíngat: | þar hyck vngan gramm gengu | gunnsylgs en ver fylgðum. | bloð feck suanr þar er slæfðuz | suerð vpp í skíp gerðri. |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 78ax Aulld vann oss a skiolldum | auðsætt var þat rauða | hliom þa er hvitir komu | hrings miðlongum þingat. | þar hygg ungan gram gengu | gunnsylg en vær fylgðum | bloð fek svanr þar er slæfðuz | sverð upp i skip giorðu. |   [VEÞ]  edit 
 68 Avld vaɴ oꜱ a skioldo avðsǽtt var þat ravþa hlíom þaer hvitir komo hringmiþlvndom | hingat. þar hyk vngan gram gengo gvɴsylg er ver fylgþom bloþ fek síǫr þar er sæfðoz sverþ vp i skip | gerþo.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 61 Aulld vann | ossa skiolldu . auðsætt var þat rauða . hliom þar er hvitir komvm hring miðlv | ðvm þingat . þar hýkk vngan gram gengu . gvnn sylgs en ver fylgðum . bloð fell sior | þar er sæfðvz . sverð upp iskip gerðu.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Holm4 Olld uann | ossa skíolldo auðse᷎tt var þat rꜹða. hlíoms þa | er huitir komo hringmiðlondum þingat . þar hykk | ungan gram gengu . ɢunnsylgs enn ue᷎r fylgðum | gioð fecc tafn þar er slioðuz suerð upp i skíp | gerðe.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 325V Aulld uann ossa skiolldv · avð sættt | var þat rauða · hlom þar er hvitir komo | hring miðlundvm þingat ; þar hyck | vngan gram gengv · gvɴsylg enn ver | fylgðvm · brað feck svanr þar er slæ | fðvz sverd · vpp iskip gerði ·   [VEÞ]  edit 
 325VII Ꜹlld vann oss a sciolldu auðsær er þat rꜹða hliom þar er hui | [...]er quamo hring miðlandum þingat . þar hykk ungan gram gengu gunnsylg en ver fylgðum . brað fekk gam | mr þar slæðuz suærð upp i scip gerþe.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Bb Olld vann ossa skiolldv. | avdsę́t var þat ravdv. hliom þa er hvitír komv. | hringmidlondvm þíngat. þar hygg vngan gra | m gengv gvnnsylg en ver fylgdvm blods fezk | svo᷎r þar er slędvr sverdz vpp j skip gerdv.   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Flat Aulld uann ossa skiolldu aut sætt uar þat | ʀauda hlíom þar er huitir komu hring midlondum þíngat þar || hyk ungan gram gengu gunnsylgs en vid fylgdum bratt fek suanr þar | er slæduzst suerd upp j skip gerde ·   [VEÞ]  edit 
 Tóm Avlld vann oss ꜳ̋ skíolldv ᷎ audsœ̨tt var þat ʀavda ᷎ hlíom þar er hvitir kvomv ᷎ hríng midlvndum | þíngat ᷎ þar hygg ec aunguan gram gengv ᷎ gvnnsylgs enn vœ̨r fylgvm ᷎ brad geck svartt þar er slœ̨ | dduzt sverd vpp j skíp gíordízt.   [VEÞ]  edit 

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