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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sveinn (Sveinn)

11th century; volume 3; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

Norðrsetudrápa (Norðrdr) - 3

Skj info: Sveinn, Islænder, 11. årh.(?) (AI, 418, BI, 387-388).

Skj poems:
Norðrsetudrápa

Four fragmentary dróttkvætt stanzas are ascribed to a certain Sveinn (Sveinn), about whom nothing else is known: two in SnE mss, and two in TGT. SnE mss record of st. 2: Svá sagði Sveinn í Norðrsetudrápu ‘So said Sveinn in Norðrsetudrápa’ (SnE 1998, I, 39), giving the name of the poem. Although the poem title is not mentioned apropos any of the other stanzas, the common subject-matter of sts 1-3 indicates that they probably all belonged to this drápa.  The fourth stanza is treated here as belonging to a different poem (Sveinn Frag 1). Norðrseta (pl. ‑setur) was the name of an area to the north of the Western Settlement in Greenland, where the best hunting grounds were located, and where people also obtained driftwood (Ólafur Halldórsson 1993). The poem describes the kind of wild weather that one would be likely to encounter in Greenland, so it seems reasonable to consider Sveinn as either an inhabitant of Greenland or an Icelander who had visited the colony. Editors have conventionally suggested a date in the eleventh century for Sveinn, and this seems reasonable; cf. Jakob Benediktsson’s (1981) proposal that Hafgerðingadrápa ‘Tremendous waves’ drápa’ (Anon HafgIV), also about stormy sea-travel to Greenland, dates from the second half of the eleventh century.

Norðrsetudrápa — Sveinn NorðrdrIII

Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘ Sveinn, Norðrsetudrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 398. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1408> (accessed 27 September 2021)

 1   2   3 

Skj: Sveinn: Norðrsetudrápa (AI, 418, BI, 387-388); stanzas (if different): 4

SkP info: III, 400

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Sveinn Norðrdr 2III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Sveinn, Norðrsetudrápa 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. 400.

Tóku fyrst til fjúka
Fornjóts synir ljótir.

Fyrst tóku {ljótir synir Fornjóts} til fjúka.

First {the ugly sons of Fornjótr <giant>} [WINDS] began to blow blizzards.

Mss: R(26v), Tˣ(27v), W(57-58), U(30r), B(5v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] fjúka: so Tˣ, W, B, ‘fioka’ R, ‘fiv[…]a’ U    [2] For‑: ‘fior‑’ Tˣ;    synir: ‘so᷎nir’ Tˣ

Editions: Skj: Sveinn, Norðrsetudrápa 2: AI, 418, BI, 388, Skald I, 192; SnE 1848-87, I, 330-1, II, 318, 531, III, 54, SnE 1931, 118, SnE 1998, I, 39.

Context: The couplet is cited in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 39) as an example of how wind can be referred to in skaldic poetry. It is there attributed to Sveinn and the poem Norðrdr is named in all mss.

Notes: [2] ljótir synir Fornjóts ‘the ugly sons of Fornjótr <giant> [WINDS]’: Fornjótr appears in a number of Old Norse sources as a giant, apparently a personification of weather phenomena. His son or sons are the winds (see Notes to Þul Jǫtna I 3/5, Þul Elds 1/3-4 and Þul Veðra 1/8). Snorri Sturluson calls him the brother of Ægir and of fire (SnE 1998, I, 39). In Þjóð Yt 21/5, 7I glóðfjalgr sonr Fornjóts ‘the ember-hot son of Fornjótr’ is clearly a kenning for ‘fire’. The notion of a family of hostile giants, the offspring of a mythical king Fornjótr, an inhabitant of the most northerly parts of the Scandinavian peninsula, who produced bad weather on land and sea and other dangerous things like fire seems to have been traditional in early Scandinavia, but it was adopted and embellished by learned historiographers and appears in works that trace the ancestry of several ruling families of Norwegian origin, notably the jarls of Orkney. Cf. ÍF 34, 3-7 and Flat 1860-8, I, 21 and 219-20. For studies of the prose uses of this myth, see Clunies Ross (1983), Meulengracht Sørensen (1993b) and Rowe (2005, 316-36).

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