Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorvaldr Hjaltason (ÞHjalt)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 2

Skj info: Þórvaldr Hjaltason, Islænder, deltog i Fyrisvoldslaget. (AI, 117, BI, 111).

Skj poems:

Little is known of this poet (ÞHjalt) beyond what is reported in the prose surrounding his two lausavísur (see Contexts below). Indeed, it is uncertain whether Þorvaldr was regarded as a poet, since Flat (1860-8, II, 73) adds after Lv 2 that he never composed before or since, so far as is known (a statement treated with scepticism by Finnur Jónsson, LH I, 543). A man of this name is recorded in Ldn (ÍF 1, 238, cf. also 282), where Þorvaldr and his brother Þórðr are the sons of Hjalti, the eponymous settler of Hjaltadalur (Skagafjörður, northern Iceland). They are depicted as impressive men and they feature in a number of sagas of Icelanders (Íslendingasögur), but it is not certain whether this Þorvaldr is the same as the poet (ÍF 1, 238 n. 2). The Þorvaldr in Ldn is not described as a skald, though the neighbourhood bred the poets Glúmr Geirason (Glúmr) and Oddr breiðfirðingr (ObreiðV), and Þorvaldr and Þórðr are the subject of Anon (Ldn) 4aIV.

Lausavísur — ÞHjalt LvI

Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þorvaldr Hjaltason, Lausavísur’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 271.

 1   2 

Skj: Þórvaldr Hjaltason: Lausavísur, o. 985 (AI, 117, BI, 111)

SkP info: I, 271

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — ÞHjalt Lv 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorvaldr Hjaltason, Lausavísur 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 271.

Fari* til Fýrisvallar,
folka tungls, hverrs hungrar,
vǫrðr, at virkis garði
vestr kveldriðu hesta.
Þar hefr hreggdrauga hǫggvit
— hóll*aust es þat — sólar
elfar skíðs fyr ulfa
Eirekr í dyn geira.

{Vǫrðr {tungls folka}}, fari* hverr {hesta {kveldriðu}}, [e]s hungrar, vestr til Fýrisvallar at garði virkis. Þar hefr Eirekr hǫggvit {{{{elfar skíðs} sólar} hregg}drauga} fyr ulfa í {dyn geira}; þat es hóll*aust.

{Guardian {of the sun of battles}} [SWORD > WARRIOR], let every one {of the horses {of the evening-rider}} [TROLL-WOMAN > WOLVES] who is hungry go west to Fýrisvǫllr, to the enclosure of the stronghold. There Eiríkr has cut down {the logs {of the storm {of the sun {of the ski of the river}}}} [(lit. ‘storm-logs of the sun of the ski of the river’) SHIP > SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIORS] before wolves in {the tumult of spears} [BATTLE]; that is without exaggeration.

Mss: Flat(87va) (Flat)

Readings: [1] Fari*: farit Flat    [3] vǫrðr: verðr Flat    [5] ‑drauga: dǫggvar Flat    [6] hóll*aust: ‘holla aust’ Flat    [7] skíðs: skins Flat

Editions: Skj: Þórvaldr Hjaltason, Lausavísur 1: AI, 117, BI, 111, Skald I, 63; NN §§1853G, 2009, 3102; Fms 5, 250-1, Fms 12, 115, Flat 1860-8, II, 73 (Styrb).

Context: After the battle of Fýrisvellir and the retreat of his coerced ally Haraldr Gormsson to Denmark, Styrbjǫrn Óláfsson is slain, and his army defeated, in renewed fighting against his uncle King Eiríkr. Afterwards, in Uppsala, Eiríkr promises a reward to anyone who composes about this, and so Þorvaldr Hjaltason orti vísur þessar ‘composed these verses’ (Flat).

Notes: [All]: The general sense of the stanza is clear but it cannot be interpreted as it stands, and some emendation is reasonable given that the only ms. witness is Flat, whose skaldic texts are often flawed. — [1] fari* ‘let ... go’: This emendation from ms. ‘farit’ follows Kock in Skald and NN §§1853G, 2009 (and fari is suggested as an option in Skj B). The ms. reading could alternatively stand as normalised farið, imp. ‘go’, which would assume that the wolves are being addressed directly. However, an apostrophe to wolves would be unusual in itself, and would not sit well with what seems to be an apostrophe to a warrior in the same helmingr (see Note to vǫrðr l. 3). — [1] til Fýrisvallar ‘to Fýrisvǫllr’: The stanza has the sg. form of the p. n., while the prose (Flat 1860-8, II, 72) has acc. pl. ‑uollu (normalised ‑vǫllu, nom. pl. ‑vellir), and the pl. form Fýrisvellir is more usual in reference to the battle. The site is assumed to have been south of modern Uppsala. On the battle, see further Anon (Styrb) 1-3 and Introduction. — [2] tungls ‘of the sun’: ‘Of the moon’ is also possible. Tungl n. refers to heavenly bodies, whether sun, moon or stars, and terms for both ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ occur in shield-kennings (Meissner 168). — [3] vǫrðr ‘guardian’: Ms. ‘verdr’ (normalised verðr) could be verbal ‘becomes’ or adjectival ‘worthy’, but neither would fit the syntax, and the minimal emendation to vǫrðr has been made by most eds, as here. This forms the base-word of a warrior-kenning functioning as an apostophe. — [5] þar ‘there’: Kock (NN §2009A) mentions the possibility of a reference to action around the Danevirke (Jutland) but this is implausible and involves reading þar as meaning ‘here’. — [5] hreggdrauga ‘the logs of the storm’: (a) The solution adopted here (that of Skj B) involves two emendations, but a postulated original drauga could have been corrupted to dǫggvar under the influence of hǫggvit, and a postulated skíðs corrupted to skins ‘shining’ under the (semantic) influence of sól ‘sun’; and the other options are not unproblematic. Emended drauga forms the base of a warrior-kenning, as commonly, though the meaning of draugr has been disputed. It is either a log, tree-stump (so Orms Eddu-Brot, in SnE 1848-87, II, 497; LP: 2. draugr) or else a supernatural being, a revenant of a very palpable kind (so Meissner 264-5, following Neckel; LP: 1. draugr). ‘Log’ is preferred here, since it fits well with hǫggvit ‘cut down’ (l. 5); the verb hǫggva is also used of felling timber. (b) Ms. hreggdǫggvar ‘storm-dews’ could be retained (as by Kock in Skald and NN §3102), yielding a clause in which Eiríkr has cut down blood (hreggdǫggvar sólar skins elfar ‘the dew of the storm (lit. storm-dew) of the sun of the gleam of the river [GOLD > SHIELD > BATTLE > BLOOD]’. But the idea of blood being ‘cut down’ or ‘hewn’ (hǫggvit) is unconvincing, as is Kock’s ‘sun of gold’ (jyllene solen) for ‘shield’. — [8] Eirekr ‘Eiríkr’: Swedish king: see Introduction.

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