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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

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

12. Lausavísur (Lv) - 30

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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 17 January 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   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 

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, 701

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Sigv Lv 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 2’ 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. 701.

Hlýð mínum brag, meiðir
myrkblás, þvít kannk yrkja,
alltíginn — mátt eiga
eitt skald — drasils tjalda,
þótt ǫllungis allra,
allvaldr, lofun skalda
— þér fæk hróðrs at hvôru
hlít — annarra nítið.

Hlýð mínum brag, {alltíginn meiðir {myrkblás drasils tjalda}}, þvít kannk yrkja — mátt eiga eitt skald —, þótt nítið ǫllungis lofun allra annarra skalda, allvaldr; fæk þér at hvôru hlít hróðrs.

Listen to my poetry, {most high-born destroyer {of the dark black steed of awnings}} [SHIP > WARRIOR], because I know how to compose — you can have one skald —, although you refuse completely the praise of all other poets, mighty ruler; I shall deliver to you nonetheless a sufficiency of praise.

Mss: Holm2(11v), R686ˣ(22r), 972ˣ(77va), J1ˣ(154v), J2ˣ(132r), 325VI(9vb), 321ˣ(48-49), 73aˣ(32r), 78aˣ(29r), 68(10v), 61(83vb), Holm4(3rb), 325V(14va), 325VII(4r), Bb(133va), Flat(83ra), Tóm(101r), 325XI 2 l(1r) (ÓH); Kˣ(247v) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] Hlýð: ‘Hlyð’ or ‘Hyð’ 325VI, ‘Lyð’ 78aˣ;    brag: borg R686ˣ, barg Bb;    meiðir: meiðr R686ˣ, Bb, beiðir 68    [2] myrk‑: mýr‑ 68;    ‑blás: ‑blakks 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 68, 61, ‑blakk es 321ˣ, ‘‑bals’ 325V, ‑hjarls 325VII, halls Flat, ‑hals Tóm, ‘‑blat’ 325XI 2 l;    þvít (‘þvi at’): því 325VI, 78aˣ, 61, Flat;    kannk (‘kanc’): kann 73aˣ, Holm4, Bb, 325XI 2 l    [3] ‑tíginn: ‘‑tigginn’ R686ˣ, ‘‑teigin’ 972ˣ, ‘[…]g[…]’ 325XI 2 l;    mátt: ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 l    [4] skald: spjald 68;    drasils: ‘drausels’ R686ˣ, ‘brasils’ 68    [5] þótt: því at Holm4, 325VII, Tóm, því Flat    [6] lofun: so 73aˣ, 68, 61, Holm4, Flat, Tóm, lofan Holm2, 972ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 321ˣ, 78aˣ, 325V, 325VII, 325XI 2 l, lofn R686ˣ, lofum Bb, lofi Kˣ;    skalda: skjalda 325V    [7] þér: þann 321ˣ, því Tóm, ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 l;    fæk (‘fę ec’): ber ek J1ˣ, J2ˣ, færik 325VI, 321ˣ, 78aˣ, ‘[…] ek’ 325XI 2 l;    hróðrs: hróðr R686ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 61, ‘hrodes’ 972ˣ, ‘hrodir’ J1ˣ, ‘hrovr’ Bb    [8] hlít: ‘Hlitit’ 972ˣ, hvárt 78aˣ;    nítið: ‘litit nítit’ Bb, vítit Tóm

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 2: AI, 265, BI, 246, Skald I, 127, NN §1872; Fms 4, 90, Fms 12, 77-8, ÓH 1853, 35, 263, ÓH 1941, I, 82 (ch. 38), Flat 1860-8, II, 39; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 45-6, VI, 74, Hkr 1868, 248 (ÓHHkr ch. 41), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 62, IV, 118, ÍF 27, 54-5, Hkr 1991, I, 287 (ÓHHkr ch. 43); Konráð Gíslason 1892, 35, 169-71, Jón Skaptason 1983, 184, 313.

Context: When he is almost fully grown, Sigvatr comes to Norway, where he meets King Óláfr Haraldsson. He has composed a poem about the king, and he asks him to listen to it. The king says he does not like having poetry composed about him, and he does not understand it (Hkr version; ÓH similar). Sigvatr delivers this stanza nonetheless, and the king rewards him.

Notes: [1-2]: The lines are echoed in Ótt Hfl 1/1-2 (see Note).  — [2] myrkblás ‘dark black’: The allusion may be to tarring of the ship’s joints (so ÍF 27, 55 n.), or else to the dark blue colour of sails (Jesch 2001a, 165). — [3] alltíginn ‘most high-born’: Etymologically, the vowel of the second syllable should be short, though in ModIcel. -tiginn and -tíginn are indistinguishable (both with tense, long vowels). But despite the arguments of Konráð Gíslason (1892, 170-1), the metre demands a long vowel here (see Sievers 1893, §61.4). — [5] þótt ‘although’: The arrangement here agrees with that of Kock (NN §1872), in which the concessive clause introduced by þótt depends on the main clause of the first helmingr. This produces the sense ‘Listen to my praise, even though you refuse the praise of others’. It is preferred because it avoids placing a concessive clause ahead of a main clause within the helmingr (cf. Kuhn 1983, 190). That is the effect of the arrangement in Skj B, which produces the overall sense ‘I shall praise you even though you refuse the praise of others’.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated