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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjalar-Jón Svipdagsson (ÞjJ)

11th century; volume 8; ed. Philip Lavender;

VIII. Lausavísur (Lv) - 2

not in Skj

Gestr Gunnolfsson

Lausavísur — ÞjJ LvVIII (ÞJ)

(forthcoming), ‘ Þjalar-Jón Svipdagsson, Lausavísur’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <> (accessed 2 December 2021)

 1   2 

SkP info: VIII, 802

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — ÞjJ Lv 2VIII (ÞJ 2)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Philip Lavender (ed.) 2017, ‘Þjalar-Jóns saga 2 (Þjalar-Jón Svipdagsson, Lausavísur 2)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 802.

Hlær, þá er hildar máva*
* hugr minn, koma þínum
— stafns verðk gjarn til Gefnar —
lendr fyr mér hæli.
Úlfr veit um — Syn sjálfa
sædags lofak fagra —
— mér verðr grund at grandi
grafsilfrs — etit hafði.

* Hugr minn hlær, þá er {gælendr {máva* hildar}} koma hæli þínum fyr mér; verðk gjarn til {Gefnar stafns}. Lofak {fagra Syn {sædags}} sjálfa; {grund grafsilfrs} verðr mér at grandi; úlfr veit um [þat, er] hafði etit.

My mind laughs when {appeasers {of the seagulls of battle}} [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIORS] bring your woman before me; I desire {the Gefn <goddess> of the headdress} [WOMAN]. I praise {the beautiful Syn <goddess> {of the sea-day}} [GOLD > WOMAN] herself; {the ground of engraved silver} [WOMAN] causes me suffering; the wolf knows [what] he had eaten.

Mss: Holm6(121v-122r) (ÞJ)

Readings: [1] máva*: mávar Holm6    [2] * hugr: í hug Holm6;    koma: komit Holm6    [4] lendr: ‘gæðindr’ Holm6;    hæli: hæla Holm6

Editions: ÞJ 1857, 13, 62, ÞJ 1939, 7 (ch. 3).

Context: Having opened the third chest, Eiríkr has become besotted with the effigy of a woman secreted inside it. Eiríkr asks Gestr whether he made the effigy and a wondrous ring named Gáinn. Gestr responds with this stanza.

Notes: [All]: This stanza is very difficult to construe as it stands and is probably corrupt. Any interpretation of it is tentative, including that offered here, and requires considerable emendation. In addition, it is not at all clear that it fits the prose context, as described above, because that would suggest that Eiríkr, not Gestr, should be the speaker of the stanza, as mentioned in the Introduction. — [1-4]: In l. 2 minn and þínum do not preserve the full rhyme (aðalhending) which would be expected in an even line. Line 4 is metrical in the ms., but has no internal rhyme. — [1, 4] lendr máva* hildar ‘appeasers of the seagulls of battle [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIORS]’: Two emendations have been required to produce this warrior-kenning. Holm6’s ‘gæðindr’ must be emended in order for there to be aðalhending in l. 4 and in order to make sense. Gunnlaugur Þórðarson (ÞJ 1857, 63) suggested gælindi (having read Holm6 as ‘gæðindi’). A minor emendation to gælendr ‘appeasers’, the m. nom. pl. form of the agent noun formed from the verb gæla ‘soothe, appease’ (LP, Fritzner: gœla; CVC: gæla; cf. ANG §173. 2), produces the base-word of a warrior-kenning with máva* hildar ‘of the seagulls of battle’, a conventional kenning for birds of prey, with emendation of ms. mávar to gen. pl. máva. — [2] * hugr minn ‘my mind’: The ms. reads í hug, but the preposition í ‘in’ is problematic in initial position, where the alliterating syllable hug ‘mind, thought, courage’ would be expected. The phrase í hug is also difficult to accommodate syntactically. The nom. hugr, by emendation, has been construed with the verb hlær ‘laughs’ (l. 1), 3rd pers. sg. pres. indic. of hlæja ‘laugh’. — [3] Gefnar stafns ‘the Gefn <goddess> of the headdress [WOMAN]’: The noun stafn in its common meaning ‘prow’ would be an unprecedented determinant in a woman-kenning. It is here considered to be used in a less common sense as a heiti for ‘headdress’ (cf. SnE 1848-87, II, 494; Fritzner IV: stafn; Heggstad et al. 2008: stafn 3.). Gunnlaugur Þórðarson (ÞJ 1857, 63) suggests that stafn can have a similar sense to bíkar ‘beaker’ and staup ‘cup’, but no evidence is adduced in support of this idea. — [4] hæli ‘woman’: Emended from ms. hæla. This could be the inf. of the verb hæla ‘praise’, but that is difficult to accommodate syntactically here, as hæla takes the dat. of the object praised. Hæli is here understood as dat. sg. of the m. noun hæll, whose usual sense is ‘heel’, but for which an alternative meaning ‘woman, widow’ has been recorded (cf. Þul Kvenna I 1/7III and Note; Anon Stríðk 1III, first Note to l. 8). — [5, 8] úlfr veit um [þat, er] hafði etit ‘the wolf knows [what] he had eaten’: The word um (l. 5) poses a problem here; it cannot be the particle of/um, which cannot be separated from the verb it precedes (e.g. um etit hafði ‘had eaten’). The only possibility is to construe it with vita ‘know’ (vita um e-t) with a suppressed object, veit um [þat, er] hafði etit ‘knows about [that which] he had eaten’. The prose text which immediately follows this stanza gives a paraphrase of this cryptic statement as Fenris úlfrinn vissi, hvat hann taug, þá er hann beit höndina af Tý Óðinssyni ‘The Fenriswolf knew what he was chewing on when he bit the hand off Týr, the son of Óðinn’. The allusion is to the myth of the gods’ binding of Fenrir (cf. SnE 2005, 27-9). A drawing in the lower margin of fol. 121v (see above), showing a creature of wolf-like appearance with what appears to be an arm reaching into its mouth, also reaffirms the idea that it is a hand, and most likely Týr’s, that the wolf has eaten. The prose goes on to explain the relevance of such a comment with the additional information, spoken by Gestr/Jón that ek mun ok gjörst vita, hvar ek hefi frá horfit ‘I also know all too well from where I have looked away’. The implication seems to be that both Fenrir and Jón know the dire consequences of their actions (biting off Týr’s hand, leaving his sister, mother and patrimony in the power of the evil Roðbert), but proceed anyway. Another proverb which uses a similar image of a wolf being the victim of a hopeless situation appears in ch. 36 of GHr (FSGJ 3, 272), where the wicked Annis, having lured the protagonist into a bind, states því nú hefir vargrinn í stilli gengit ‘for now the wolf has walked into the trap’. — [8] grafsilfrs ‘of engraved silver’: This determinant of a woman-kenning is not recorded elsewhere, but makes sense considering the requirements of metre and alliteration. The p. p. grafinn (from grafa ‘dig’, but here with the sense as given in LP: grafa 5 udskåren ‘engravedʼ) appears in combination with a selection of decorated objects in skaldic verse: e.g. grǫfnum hjǫlmum ‘with engraved helmets’ Þhorn Harkv 19/9I.  

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