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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Snorri Sturluson (SnSt)

13th century; volume 3; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

III. Háttatal (Ht) - 102

Skj info: Snorri Sturluson, Islandsk höfding og skjald, 1178-1241. (AII, 52-79, BII, 60-90).

Skj poems:
1. En drape om Skule jarl
2. Háttatal
3. Af et religiøst digt (?)
4. Lausavísur
4. Lausavísur

prose works

Háttatal — SnSt HtIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1094.

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Skj: Snorri Sturluson: 2. Háttatal, 1222-23 (AII, 52-77, BII, 61-88)

SkP info: III, 1171

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

61 — SnSt Ht 61III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 61’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1171.

Hræljóma fellr hrími; tími
hár vex of gram sára ára;
frost nemr of hlyn Hristar Mistar
herkaldan þrǫm skjaldar aldar.
Gullsendir brýtr grundar Hrundar
gunnveggs stǫfum leggi hreggi;
sóknvallar spyrk svelli elli
— svá skotnar þat — gotna þrotna.

{Hrími {hræljóma}} fellr; {hár tími {ára sára}} vex of gram; {frost Mistar} nemr herkaldan þrǫm skjaldar aldar of {hlyn Hristar}. {Gullsendir} brýtr leggi {stǫfum {gunnveggs}} {hreggi {grundar Hrundar}}; spyrk elli gotna þrotna {svelli {sóknvallar}}; svá skotnar þat.

{The hostility {of the corpse-gleam}} [SWORD > BATTLE] approaches; {the opportune time {of oars of wounds}} [SWORDS > BATTLE] increases around the ruler; {the frost of Mist <valkyrie>} [SWORD] hits the mightily cold rim of the shield of the men around {the maple of Hrist <valkyrie>} [WARRIOR]. {The gold-dispenser} [GENEROUS MAN] breaks the legs {of staves {of the battle-wall}} [SHIELD > WARRIORS] {during the storm {of the ground of Hrund <valkyrie>}} [SHIELD > BATTLE]; I hear that people’s old age is cut short {by the ice-sheet {of the attack-meadow}} [SHIELD > SWORD]; thus it turns out.

Mss: R(50v), Tˣ(52v), W(147) (SnE)

Readings: [1] fellr: felr all    [2] vex of: veg um W;    sára: sár Tˣ    [3] nemr: venr Tˣ, W;    hlyn: so W, hlynr R, Tˣ    [6] gunnveggs: ‘gull[…]’ Tˣ;    leggi hreggi: hreggi leggi W    [7] spyrk (‘spyr ek’): so Tˣ, W, ‘spvr ec’ R    [8] þrotna: ‘[…]a’ Tˣ

Editions: Skj: Snorri Sturluson, 2. Háttatal 61: AII, 68, BII, 78, Skald II, 43, NN §§1319, 3262; SnE 1848-87, I, 674-7, III, 126-7, SnE 1879-81, I, 10, 81, II, 23, SnE 1931, 241, SnE 2007, 27; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 37-8.

Context: As sts 59-60 above. In this stanza, kimblaband occurs in each line (in mestu kimblubǫnd ‘the greatest bundle-bonds’). In terms of metrical positions the lines resemble the octosyllabic hrynhent ‘flowing rhymed’ (see sts 62-4).

Notes: [All]: The heading in is 53. This is the last stanza recorded in , which contains the heading for the next stanza (54) at the bottom of fol. 52v. — [All]: For this metre, see also RvHbreiðm Hl 27-8. — [1] fellr ‘approaches’: Felr ‘hides, covers’ has been altered in R to fellr ‘approaches, arrives’ (R*). All mss originally read felr hræljóma hrími, which can be taken as an impersonal construction and translated as ‘the corpse-gleam [SWORD] is covered with rime’. That makes little sense in the context, but indicates an attempt at lectio facilior at an early stage in the scribal transmission. For falla ‘approach, arrive’, see Fritzner: falla 8. Snorri clearly played on the different meanings of this verb (falla ‘fall’, falla ‘approach’) as well as those of hrími ‘hostility’ and hrím ‘rime’, i.e. ‘battle approaches’, ‘rime falls’ (see the similar play on the verb snýr ‘turns’ in st. 62/1 below). — [1] hrími hræljóma ‘the hostility of the corpse-gleam [SWORD > BATTLE]’: Fritzner: hrími, glosses this word as Fiendskab, Skade ‘hostility, damage’ (most likely derived from hrím ‘rime, hoarfrost’), and it has been taken in that meaning in the present edn. For similar kennings for ‘battle’ (Zorn, Erbitterung der Waffen ‘anger, fury of weapons’), see Meissner 201. Earlier eds treat hrími (m.) as synonymous with hrím ‘rime’ (n.; see above). Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) suggests Sværdene falde (lyne) så tæt omkring krigeren som dråberne i en regnbyge ‘The swords fall (flash) as densely around the warrior as the drops in a rainshower’, LP: hrími has ligstrålens rimdug falder, sværdbygen(s dråber) falder, kampen raser ‘the rime-dew of the corpse-gleam falls, (the drops of) the sword-shower fall, the battle rages’ and Skj B gives the translation Sværdbygen falder ‘The sword-shower falls’. Faulkes (SnE 2007, 124) glosses hrími as ‘rime, frost, dew’ and suggests that it refers to missiles falling like dew. Whereas there can be no doubt that Snorri intended the word hrími to be associated with something cold (cf. frost ‘frost’ l. 3, herkaldan ‘mightily cold’ l. 4, svelli ‘ice-sheet’ l. 7), hrími (and hrím) cannot mean ‘dew’, ‘drops’, ‘rainshower’; rather, hrím means ‘rime, hoarfrost’. It is difficult to see what type of kenning ‘the rime of the sword’ could be. It cannot be construed as a kenning for ‘battle’, and, unlike in st. 60/7 above where frør ‘frost’ was taken as the base-word in a kenning for ‘sword’ (and cf. frost Mistar ‘the frost of Mist <valkyrie> [SWORD]’ l. 3), here hrími ‘hostility’ (or ‘sth. cold’) is qualified by the determinant hræljóma ‘of the corpse-gleam’ which is in itself a kenning for ‘sword’. — [3] frost Mistar ‘the frost of Mist <valkyrie> [SWORD]’: Taken as a kenning for ‘sword’ here (see Note to st. 60/7 above). Again Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) treats this as a kenning for ‘battle’, as does Finnur Jónsson in LP: frost (so also Meissner 182). In Skj B, Finnur gives the translation kampfrosten ‘the battle-frost’ and it is not clear whether he takes this in a literal or figurative meaning. Faulkes (SnE 2007, 111: frost) opts for ‘sword’, but leaves open the possibility that this could be a battle-kenning. In the Old Norse poetic corpus, frost occurs once as a base-word in an apparent kenning for ‘battle’ (Sigv Nesv 3/3I frost odda ‘the frost of points [BATTLE]’), and according to LP: frost (with reference to Sveinn Norðrdr 1/3) the word can also denote fjældstorme ‘storms in the mountain’. Hence, by extension, it would fit Meissner’s category Unwetter ‘storm, rough weather’ as base-words in battle-kennings (Meissner 178-82). That meaning of frost is not attested in prose, however (see Fritzner: frost), and in the stanza (Sveinn Norðrdr 1/3) adduced in LP as evidence for frost ‘storms in the mountains’, the poet simply describes waves that were ‘nourished by frost’ (of alnar við frost) with no clear indication as to whether we are dealing with a static or dynamic phenomenon. — [3] of hlyn Hristar ‘around the maple of Hrist <valkyrie> [WARRIOR]’: Earlier eds connect this prepositional phrase with fellr ‘arrives’ taken in the meaning ‘fall’ (l. 1; see Notes above), which creates an extremely awkward tripartite construction in l. 3. — [3] hlyn ‘the maple’: Hlynr (m. nom. sg.) ‘maple’ has been altered in R to hlyn (m. acc. or dat. sg.) (R*). — [5, 6] hreggi grundar Hrundar ‘during the storm of the ground of Hrund <valkyrie> [SHIELD > BATTLE]’: This is a dat. of time (see st. 59/1-2 above). — [6] leggi (m. acc. pl.) ‘legs’: The word leggr can mean ‘leg, arm’ or ‘limb’ in general. — [7] spyrk ‘I hear’: So , W. In R ‘spvr ec’ has been altered to ‘spyr ec’ (R*). — [7] svelli sóknvallar ‘by the ice-sheet of the attack-meadow [SHIELD > SWORD]’: Most earlier eds take sóknvǫllr ‘attack-meadow’ in a literal sense (‘battlefield’, hap. leg.; see LP: sóknvǫllr and SnE 2007, 149). Following Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SnE 1848, III), Möbius (SnE 1879-81, I, 81) and Konráð Gíslason (1895-7), Skj B (and, as an option, SnE 2007, 153: svellir) construes svelli as the dat. sg. of an agent noun, svellir ‘increaser’ and svelli sóknvallar ‘the increaser of the battlefield [WARRIOR]’ as the dat. object of skotnar (‘thus it turns out for the warrior’), which forces a quadripartite l. 7 (see NN §3262). — [8] þrotna ‘is cut short’: It is unclear whether þrotna is an inf. ‘come to an end, be prevented’ or f. acc. sg. of the p. p. of þrjóta ‘be deprived of’ (spyrk gotna þrotna elli svelli sóknvallar ‘I hear that men are deprived of old age by the sword’).

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