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Runic Dictionary

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Sveinn (Sveinn)

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

Norðrsetudrápa (Norðrdr) - 3

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. <> (accessed 22 January 2022)

stanzas:  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

3 — Sveinn Norðrdr 3III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Sveinn, Norðrsetudrápa 3’ 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.

Dœtr Hlés á við blésu.


{The daughters of Hlér <= Ægir>} [WAVES] blew against the ship.

context: This line is cited by Óláfr Þórðarson in ch. 16 of the Málskrúðsfræði section of TGT on various figures and tropes. He uses Sveinn’s line to exemplify a kind of irony, antiphrasis, which, he says, occurs when a single noun means the opposite of its lexical sense. The example relates to the personal name Hlér, which Óláfr must have understood to mean ‘Calm one’, for he says (TGT 1927, 85): Hér er sær kallaðr hlér, þvíat hann hlýr allra minst ‘Here the sea is called Hlér, because it does not protect at all’.

notes: The full verse context of this line can only be guessed at. Björn Magnússon Ólsen (TGT 1884, 232) suggested that it might be the last line of the same helmingr as st. 2 above.

texts: TGT 116, Gramm 118

editions: Skj Sveinn: Norðrsetudrápa 3 (AI, 418; BI, 388); Skald I, 192; SnE 1848-87, II, 180-1, 425, TGT 1884, 30, 114, 231-2, TGT 1927, 85, 108.


AM 748 I b 4° (A) 8r, 2 - 8r, 2 (TGT)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 242 fol (W) 110, 16 - 110, 16 (TGT)  transcr.  image  image  image  
AM 761 b 4°x (761bx) 391r, 12 - 391r, 12 (Norðrdr)  image  
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