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Þorbjǫrn dísarskáld (Þdís)

10th century; volume 3; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

2. Poem about a Saint (Saint) - 1

Nothing is known for certain about Þorbjǫrn dísarskáld ‘Lady’s poet’ (Þdís), aside from his name and two fragmentary poetic compositions ascribed to a Þorbjǫrn in mss of SnE. It is not even certain that the Þorbjǫrn to whom two stanzas of a Poem about Þórr (Þdís Þórr) are ascribed (SnE 1998, I, 16-17) is the same poet as the composer of the so-called Poem about a Saint (Þdís Saint, SnE 1998, I, 76). In the first case the poet is named in SnE mss as Þorbjǫrn dísarskáld, but in the second he is called Þorbjǫrn without the nickname. It has been conventionally assumed, and is so here, that both poems were the work of a single poet. If so, he must have lived about the time of the conversion to Christianity (c. 1000) and is likely to have been converted himself, as one poem praises the god Þórr and the other is about the baptism of an unknown man. The significance of the nickname dísarskáld can only be guessed at: possibly Þórbjǫrn was known for his composition of poetry about a lady or, as dís often refers to a supernatural being, he may have celebrated a particular goddess. It is not known whether he was Norwegian or Icelandic, but most earlier editors have regarded him as Icelandic.

Poem about a Saint — Þdís SaintIII

Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Þorbjǫrn dísarskáld, Poem about a Saint’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 472.

stanzas:  1 

Skj: Þorbjǫrn dísarskáld: 2. Et helgendigt(?) (AI, 144, BI, 135); stanzas (if different): [v]

SkP info: III, 472

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Þdís Saint 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Þorbjǫrn dísarskáld, Poem about a Saint 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 472.

Hafreiðar vas hlœðir
hlunns í skírnar brunni,
Hvíta-Krists sás hæsta
hoddsviptir fekk giptu.

{Hlœðir {hafreiðar hlunns}} vas í brunni skírnar, {hoddsviptir}, sás fekk hæsta giptu Hvíta-Krists.

{The loader {of the sea-chariot of the slipway roller}} [SHIP > SEAFARER] was in the pool of baptism, {the hoard-flinger} [GENEROUS MAN], who received the highest grace of White-Christ.

Mss: R(35v), Tˣ(36v), W(80), U(34r), A(12r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] ‑reiðar: ‑ræðar U;    hlœðir: ‘hlæði’ A    [3] Hvíta‑: húna A;    ‑Krists: kristr Tˣ, U    [4] hodd‑: so all others, ‘hod’ R

Editions: Skj: Þorbjǫrn dísarskáld, 2. Et helgendigt(?): AI, 144, BI, 135, Skald I, 74, NN §428; SnE 1848-87, I, 446-7, II, 333, III, 89, 444, SnE 1931, 158, SnE 1998, I, 76.

Notes: [1] hafreiðar ‘of the sea-chariot’: The base-word of a ship-kenning, with hlunns ‘of the slipway roller’ as determinant. Because haf- ‘sea’ makes the kenning overdetermined (‘chariot of the slipway roller’ would be sufficient), eds have sought to interpret haf- as derived from the verb hefja ‘raise’ in the sense ‘lifting, moving up and down’ (so LP: 1. hafreið and SnE 1998, II, 299). However, hafreið occurs once elsewhere (ÞTref Hrafn 5/6V) clearly in the sense ‘sea-chariot’ (probably a kenning for ‘ship’), so the more obvious sense has been retained here. Kock (NN §428) emended hafreiðar to hôreiðar ‘of the high chariot’, but there is no ms. support for this emendation. — [2] skírnar ‘of baptism’: Assuming a date of composition for Þdís Saint as c. 1000 or a little afterwards, this is the earliest poetic use of this Christian term (cf. Anon Leið 12/2VII, Anon Lil 5/1VII) and probably among the earliest recorded in Old Norse (see ONP : skírn). — [3] Hvíta-Krists ‘of White-Christ’: The term is used, particularly around the conversion period, to refer to Jesus Christ, probably on account of the white garments worn by converts about to be baptised (cf. LP: Hvíta-Kristr). In poetry, it is only used here and in Sigv Lv 23/2I.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated