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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Snæbjǫrn (Snæbj)

11th century; volume 3; ed. Edith Marold;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 2

Skj info: Snæbjǫrn, Islænder, i det 11. årh. (AI, 211, BI, 201).

Skj poems:

The identity of the skald Snæbjǫrn (Snæbj), to whom SnE attributes one stanza and one helmingr, is uncertain. He is not mentioned in Skáldatal, nor can he be identified as one of the three Snæbjǫrns who appear in Ldn (Snæbjǫrn Eyvindarson, Snæbjǫrn galti ‘Boar’ from Vestfirðir and Snæbjǫrn Hafnar-Ormsson). SnE does not give his patronymic. He was first assumed to be Snæbjǫrn galti (Bugge 1886, 337; Gollancz 1898, xvii) who discovered Gunnbjarnarsker and was killed there (Ldn, ÍF 1, 190-5). Finnur Jónsson (1898, 133; LH I, 520) rightly opposed this view. Ohlmarks (1958, 167-71) identified him as Snæbjǫrn Hafnar-Ormsson (Ldn, ÍF 1, 61), whom he took to be the grandson of Snæbjǫrn galti. Ohlmark’s reason for doing so was that Snæbjǫrn Hafnar-Ormsson’s adulthood (c. 1000-30) coincided with the period to which Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) assigned the stanzas.

Lausavísur — Snæbj LvIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘ Snæbjǫrn, Lausavísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 376. <> (accessed 28 January 2022)

 1   2 

Skj: Snæbjǫrn: Lausavísur, o. 1010-20 (AI, 211, BI, 201)

SkP info: III, 379

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Snæbj Lv 2III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Snæbjǫrn, Lausavísur 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 379.

Stjórnviðjar lætr styðja
stáls buðlunga máli
hlemmisverð við harðri
húflangan skæ dúfu.


{The confidant of rulers} [RULER] lets {the powerful sword of the stern} [RUDDER] support {the long-hulled horse of the steering-tie} [SHIP] against the heavy wave.

context: The stanza is cited in Skm (SnE) to illustrate possible ways to designate a king’s followers (here, máli buðlunga ‘confidant of rulers’).

notes: This stanza has been much discussed with regard to syntax and meaning. (a) The present edn adopts the following interpretation: The subject of the sentence is máli buðlunga ‘the confidant of rulers’; the verbs are lætr styðja ‘lets support’; the object of lætr is hlemmisverð stáls ‘the powerful sword of the stern [RUDDER]’ (see Note to l. 2, 3); the object of styðja is húflangan skæ stjórnviðjar ‘the long-hulled horse of the steering-tie [SHIP]’ (see Note to l. 1) and styðja ‘support’ is completed by the prepositional phrase við harðri dúfu ‘against the heavy wave’. (b) Skj B offers the following interpretation: Buðlunga máli lætr húflangan stjórviðjar skæ styðja stáls hlemmisverð við harðri dúfu, translated as Kongens ven lader det langsidede skib støde til den hårde bølge med sin svære forstavns top ‘The king’s friend lets the long-sided ship thrust at the hard wave with the top of its heavy stem’. With regard to the meaning of the verb styðja Finnur Jónsson (LP: styðja 2) refers to Vsp 21/3-4 (NK 5) er Gullveigo | geirom studdo ‘as they ran Gullveig through with spears’ and Bragi Rdr 6/1-3 Støkkvir flaums stála lét mjǫk styðja niðja Gjúka ‘The impeller of the eddy of steel [BATTLE > WARRIOR = Jǫrmunrekkr] caused the descendants of Gjúki <legendary king> [= Hamðir and Sǫrli] to be greatly pressed’. (c) Kock (NN §574) rightly points out that the prep. við is superfluous if the verb styðja means ‘run through’ and he is also right that hlemmisverð cannot be a dat. He offers the following interpretation: Stáls buðlunga máli lætr stjórnviðjar hlemmisverð styðja húflangan skæ við harðri dúfu which he translates as Vapenhövdingars förtrogne låter starka styrbandssvärdet stödja sidobordens långa fåle emot våldsam våg ‘The confidant of weapon-chieftains lets the strong sword of the steering-tie support the long foal of the ship-planks against heavy sea’. That interpretation is unsatisfactory for two reasons. First of all, it is highly unusual for a term for ‘ruler’ (here, buðlunga ‘of rulers’, l. 2) to be qualified by a term for ‘weapon’ (here, stáls ‘of the weapon’, l. 2). Second, according to this interpretation the base-word skæ ‘horse’ (l. 4) is deprived of its determinant stjórnviðjar ‘of the steering-tie’ (l. 1). Kock attempts to solve this problem by extracting the first element húf- ‘hull’ from the cpd adj. húflangan ‘long-hulled’ and taking it as the determinant in the ship-kenning, as is shown by his translation sidobordens långa fåle ‘the long foal of the ship-planks’. This would involve the tmesis húf- langan ‑skæ, but such a construction is unprecedented in skaldic poetry.

texts: LaufE 76 (363), Skm 291, SnE 293

editions: Skj Snæbjǫrn: Lausavísur 2 (AI, 211; BI, 201); Skald I, 105, NN §574; SnE 1848-87, I, 460-1, II, 337, III, 93, SnE 1931, 163, SnE 1998, I, 81.


GKS 2367 4° (R) 36r, 34 - 36r, 35 (SnE)  transcr.  image  image  image  
Traj 1374x (Tx) 38r, 2 - 38r, 2 (SnE)  image  
AM 242 fol (W) 82, 18 - 82, 19 (SnE)  image  image  image  
DG 11 (U) 35v, 15 - 35v, 16 (SnE)  image  
GKS 2368 4°x (2368x) 106, 1 - 106, 2 (LaufE)  image  
AM 743 4°x (743x) 81v, 24 - 81v, 27 (LaufE)  image  image  
AM 761 b 4°x (761bx) 354r, 12 - 354r, 15  image  
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