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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, 706

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

6 — Sigv Lv 6I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 6’ 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. 706.

Nú sitt heill, en hallar
hér finnumk meir þinnar
at, unz enn kømk vitja,
Ôleifr konungr, mála.
Skald biðr hins, at haldi
hjalmdrífu viðr lífi
— endisk leyfð — ok landi
— lýkk vísu nú — þvísa.

Nú sitt heill, Ôleifr konungr, unz kømk enn vitja mála, en finnumk meir hér at hallar þinnar. Skald biðr hins, at {viðr {hjalmdrífu}} haldi lífi ok þvísa landi; leyfð endisk; lýkk vísu nú.

Now sit in good health, King Óláfr, until I come again to claim fulfilment of [our] agreement, and we shall meet again here at your hall. The poet asks this, that {the tree {of the helmet-storm}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR] may keep hold of life and this land; the praise ends; I close my verse now.

Mss: Holm2(25v), R686ˣ(49r), 972ˣ(176va), J2ˣ(160r), 325VI(16vb), 75a(14va), 73aˣ(64r-v), 68(24r-v), 61(94ra), Holm4(17ra), 75c(14v), 325VII(12v), Flat(92vb), Tóm(113r) (ÓH); Kˣ(303r), Bb(152va) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] en: ok 325VI, 75a;    hallar: hallir 972ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, hollir 68, 61    [2] finnumk: finnum ok J2ˣ, ‘finumk’ 325VII, finnimk Tóm, finnusk Kˣ;    meir: nú 73aˣ, vér 325VII, meir enn Flat    [3] at: aptr 73aˣ, 68, 61, áttu Bb;    enn: so J2ˣ, om. Holm2, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 68, 61, Holm4, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Kˣ, Bb, er Tóm;    kømk (‘ec kem’): so 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 68, 61, Holm4, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, Bb, ek kom Holm2, R686ˣ, Kˣ;    vitja: vitta 325VII    [4] Ôleifr: Óláfs R686ˣ, 972ˣ, Óláf 325VII;    konungr: konungs R686ˣ, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, konung 325VII    [5] Skald: om. R686ˣ;    hins: húns Bb;    haldi: haldisk 972ˣ, halda 68, halda corrected from ‘ek halda’ 61    [6] hjalm‑: hring‑ R686ˣ, 972ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, hjǫr Holm4;    ‑drífu: so 68, 61, Holm4, Kˣ, ‑drifi Holm2, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 75c, Flat, Tóm, Bb, ‑drífr 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 325VII;    viðr: frǫmu 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, stafr 61, þú 325VII, gramr Flat, Tóm    [7] ok: ór 68, 61, í Tóm, at Bb    [8] nú: svá 972ˣ, þar J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a;    þvísa: ‘þisa’ R686ˣ

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 7: AI, 267, BI, 247, Skald I, 128, NN §672; Fms 4, 185, Fms 12, 83, ÓH 1853, 80, 271, ÓH 1941, I 198 (ch. 75), Flat 1860-8, II, 113; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 123, VI, 83, Hkr 1868, 307 (ÓHHkr ch. 92), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 169, IV, 129-30, ÍF 27, 134-5, Hkr 1991, I, 345 (ÓHHkr ch. 91); Konráð Gíslason 1892, 36, 175, 231, Jón Skaptason 1983, 189, 317.

Context: At the onset of winter, the poet Sigvatr and two others set out from Borg (Sarpsborg), going east through Markir (Marker) to Gautland (Västergötland). Before he departs, Sigvatr delivers this and the following stanza to King Óláfr.

Notes: [All]: On the purpose of the mission, dated c. 1019 or possibly 1018, see Introduction to Sigv Austv. Finnur Jónsson (1932, 9) had difficulty deciding whether to include this and the following stanza in Sigv Austv. Sahlgren (1927-8, I, 200-2, 205) would include them in that poem, reversing their order and placing them last. — [1-4]: The syntax of the helmingr can be construed in various ways. (a) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B makes an intercalary clause of en … hér finnumk meir ‘and we shall meet here again’, but as Kock (NN §672) points out, this isolates en oddly. (b) Finnur Jónsson (1934a, 39) eventually came to favour the present arrangement, which is also adopted in ÍF 27, Jón Skaptason (1983) and Hkr 1991. At ‘at’ is construed with gen. sg. hallar þinnar ‘your hall’ (cf. LP: at C for further examples of at with gen., though the examples involve genitives referring to persons). The seeming isolation of at in l. 3 is signalled and compensated for by metrical stress on the word. (Finnur Jónsson, 1934a, 39, wonders whether Sigvatr gave at a long vowel as in Norw. åt, since the initial lift should be a heavy syllable.) (c) Kock urges instead that at should be construed with kømk ‘I return’ or ‘I get through’, analogous to at kom ‘came there’ in Anon (TGT) 38/1III. — [1] hallar ‘hall’: See Note to Sigv Austv 16/8. — [4] Ôleifr ‘Óláfr’: On the form of the name, see Note to Sigv Austv 17/2. — [4] mála ‘agreement’: The word is probably gen. sg. of máli m. ‘agreement, contract’ rather than gen. pl. of mál n. ‘speech’ (Finnur Jónsson 1934a, 39), although pl. môl/mál can refer to formal agreements, e.g. in the compounds griðamál, trygðamál, referring to truces (see CVC: grið, tryggð). — [7] leyfð endisk ‘the praise ends’: Presumably ‘praise’ means ‘poem of praise’. Konráð Gíslason (1892, 175) takes endisk to be subj. (and leyfð to mean ‘portion of a poem’), expressing a wish, roughly ‘May this prayer be fulfilled’.

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