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).
R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur’ 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. 698.
Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 13. Lausavísur (AI, 265-75, BI, 246-54); stanzas (if different): 5 |
SkP info: I, 712
10 — Sigv Lv 10I
Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 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. 712.
|Þrøngvisk ér of ungan,
ítrmenni, gram þenna;
bægisk ǫld, svát eigi
Ôleifs náik máli.
|Mér varð orð at órum |
auðsótt frǫmum dróttni,
þás óðum mjǫk móðir
mjǫll á Dofrafjalli.
Ér þrøngvisk of þenna ungan gram, ítrmenni; ǫld bægisk, svát náik eigi máli Ôleifs. Mér varð orð at frǫmum dróttni órum auðsótt, þás óðum mjǫk móðir mjǫll á Dofrafjalli.
You throng about this young ruler, glorious crowd; people are pushing, so that I cannot obtain speech with Óláfr. For me a word with our outstanding lord was easy to get when we waded, quite exhausted, through the snow on Dovrefjell.
Mss: Flat(187ra), Flat(92vb), Tóm(126r), 73aˣ(127v), 71ˣ(106r), 76aˣ(135v) (ÓH)
Readings:  Þrøngvisk: þrøngvask 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ; ér: ek Flat(92vb), eir Tóm, enn 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ; of: um Flat(92vb), Tóm, 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ  ‑menni: ‑nenninn Flat(92vb)  svát (‘sua at’): svá 76aˣ  náik (‘nai ek’): ‘nang’ 73aˣ  varð: var Flat(92vb); órum: orðum Tóm, ôrum 71ˣ, 76aˣ  dróttni: drótti Tóm  óðum: vǫðum 76aˣ; móðir: óðir Tóm  á: so all others, af Flat(187ra); ‑fjalli: fjǫllum Tóm
Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 13: AI, 269, BI, 249, Skald I, 129, NN §§1873, 2480F; Fms 5, 180, Fms 12, 110, Flat 1860-8, II, 112, III, 240, ÓH 1941, II, 687, 697, 698, 699; Konráð Gíslason 1892, 42, 201-2, Jón Skaptason 1983, 195, 321.
Context: One day Sigvatr has urgent
business with King Óláfr, but there is such a throng of people around the king
that Sigvatr cannot get to speak with him. Then Sigvatr speaks this stanza; it has the desired
effect. In all the mss the incident comes at the end of the account of the
journey through Dofrafjall (Dovrefjell) on which Sigvatr finds a way to give his cloak to
the king, who is feeling the cold, without insulting him.
Notes: [All]: Sigvatr’s point is that there may be crowds jostling around the king now, but few of them shared the king’s hardships on his winter journey through Dovrefjell. —  ǫld bægisk ‘people are pushing’: Against the evidence of the mss, Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) reads bægjumk ǫld, which he takes to mean ‘people are holding me back’. But since bægja as a transitive verb means ‘push’, there is nothing objectionable about m. v. bægisk ‘push’ (Kock, NN §1873). —  Dofrafjalli ‘Dovrefjell’: A mountain range in Opplandene, Norway.