Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

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

12. Lausavísur (Lv) - 30

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).

Lausavísur — Sigv LvI

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.

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Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 13. Lausavísur (AI, 265-75, BI, 246-54); stanzas (if different): 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32

SkP info: I, 716

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — Sigv Lv 14I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 14’ 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. 716.

Kaup varð daprt, þars djúpan,
dróttinrækt, of sóttu,
þeir es, heim, á himnum,
hás elds, svikum belldu.

Dróttinrækt kaup varð daprt á himnum, þars of sóttu {djúpan heim hás elds}, þeir es belldu svikum.

The lord-rejecting bargain was dismal in the heavens, when they sought {the deep world of towering flame} [HELL], those who committed treason.

Mss: Holm2(54v), 972ˣ(401va), 321ˣ(193), 68(52r), Holm4(49ra-b), 61(114ra), 75c(35v), 325V(62ra), Bb(184ra), Flat(116va) (ÓH); Kˣ(419v), J2ˣ(202r) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] varð: var 321ˣ, 75c, 325V;    daprt: ‘davpr’ 325V, dapr Flat;    þars (‘þar er’): so Holm4, Flat, Kˣ, J2ˣ, þats Holm2, 321ˣ, 68, 75c, 325V, þá er 972ˣ, þar 61, Bb;    djúpan: so 972ˣ, 68, Holm4, 61, 325V, Flat, Kˣ, J2ˣ, ‘diypan’ Holm2, ‘dvipan’ 75c, drúpan Bb    [2] dróttin: dróttins 321ˣ, dróttum Bb;    rækt: so Holm4, Kˣ, J2ˣ, ‘rętt’ Holm2, rétt 972ˣ, 68, 75c, 325V, Flat, reiði 321ˣ, réð 61, reit Bb;    of: om. 321ˣ, af 61, 75c, 325V, Bb, Flat;    sóttu: sóttum 61, 75c, Bb, Flat, sóttan 325V    [3] þeir es (‘þeir er’): þeim er 321ˣ, 61, 325V;    heim: blank space 68;    á himnum: á himna 972ˣ, 61, ‘al’ blank space 68    [4] hás elds: so 972ˣ, 68, Holm4, 61, 325V, Kˣ, J2ˣ, ‘has ells’ Holm2, ‘haselldr’ 321ˣ, ‘a sęllz’ Bb, hvass elds Flat;    svikum: sviku 61;    belldu: heldi 75c, beldi 325V, heldu Bb, Flat

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 17: AI, 270, BI, 250, Skald I, 129, NN §§2218D, 2262; Fms 4, 377, Fms 12, 91-2, ÓH 1941, I, 457 (ch. 153), Flat 1860-8, II, 291; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 285, VI, 98, Hkr 1868, 431 (ÓH ch. 171), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 382, IV, 149, ÍF 27, 295, Hkr 1991, II, 468 (ÓH ch. 161); Jón Skaptason 1983, 199, 323.

Context: As for Lv 13.

Notes: [All]: The word (or words) dróttinrækt has clearly presented problems to scribes and eds alike, and there are several interpretations. (a) An otherwise unattested adj. dróttinrækr ‘lord-rejecting’ is assumed here, comparable with hjarðrækr ‘herd-driving, able to drive a herd’, and qualifying kaup ‘bargain’. (b) Rœkt could alternatively be taken as n. adj. ‘rejected, abominable, abhorrent’, used adverbially, and acc. sg. dróttin ‘lord’ construed as object of belldu ‘dealt with’; this approach is essentially that of Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 27, followed by Jón Skaptason 1983, 199 and Hkr 1991). However, bella normally takes a dat. object or a construction with við. (c) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) reads dróttinrœkð (though this has no ms. support), which he takes to mean ‘fidelity to one’s lord’. This he construes with the initial clause, and he takes the overall meaning to be ‘The reward for fidelity to their lord grew sad in heaven, since those who dealt in treason sought the deep-lying world of high-flaming fire’. (d) For acc. heim ‘world’ in l. 3, Kock (NN §2218D) reads ‘instrumental’ heimi (a reading unsupported by the mss). He would also read dróttinrétt (NN §2262), interpreted to mean ‘power’, giving the overall meaning ‘The exchange grew sad where they who practised treason against the world from out of heaven went to the high flame’s deep power’. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson takes the helmingr to refer to the Fall of the rebellious angels, as do the eds of Hkr 1991, who also equate dróttin with God. — [1, 3] daprt á himnum ‘dismal in the heavens’: There is sorrow in the heavens over the treachery. — [1] þars ‘when’: Or, as more frequently, ‘where’. This reading is adopted by most eds, but þats would also be possible: kaup varð daprt, þats … ‘that bargain turned out dismal, by which …’.

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