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Þórarinn loftunga (Þloft)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Matthew Townend;

3. Glælognskviða (Glækv) - 10

Few biographical facts are known about Þórarinn loftunga ‘Praise-tongue’ (Þloft). In introducing Þórarinn’s service to King Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great), Snorri Sturluson (ÍF 27, 307; cf. ÓH 1941, I, 473) records in general terms that he was an Icelander and a great poet (skáld mikit) who had spent a great deal of time with kings and other chieftains. Knýtl (ÍF 35, 124) gives a similar portrait, and adds that Þórarinn was gamall ‘old’ when he first came to Knútr. However, all of Þórarinn’s extant poetry derives from his service to Knútr and his son Sveinn, and these are the only monarchs for whom Þórarinn is recorded as a poet in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267). Þorm Lv 10/1-2 also refers to Knútr rewarding Þórarinn with gold over a long period (for the anecdote in which it is quoted see ÓHLeg 1982, 124-8; ÓH 1941, II, 799-804), and his pre-Knútr career must remain hypothetical. Parts of three poems are preserved: Hǫfuðlausn (Hfl) and Tøgdrápa (Tøgdr) for Knútr, and Glælognskviða (Glækv) for Sveinn, probably composed in this order, and between c. 1027 and 1034; for circumstances of composition and preservation see individual Introductions below. The evidence of the poems suggests that Þórarinn entered Knútr’s service in either England or Denmark, accompanied him on his journey to Norway in 1028, and after 1030 remained at Sveinn’s court in Norway at least until c. 1032. For previous discussions of Þórarinn’s career see LH I, 601-3, Malcolm (1993), and Townend (2005, 256-7).

Glælognskviða — Þloft GlækvI

Matthew Townend 2012, ‘ Þórarinn loftunga, Glælognskviða’ 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. 863. <> (accessed 22 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 

for reference only:  10x 

Skj: Þórarinn loftunga: 3. Glælognskviða, 1032 (AI, 324-7, BI, 300-1)

SkP info: I, 875

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — Þloft Glækv 9I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórarinn loftunga, Glælognskviða 9’ 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. 875.

Bið Ôleif,
at unni þér
— hanns goðs maðr —
grundar sinnar
— hann of getr
af goði sjalfum
ár ok frið
ǫllum mǫnnum —,
þás þú rekr
fyr reginnagla
bóka máls
bœnir þínar.

Bið Ôleif, at unni þér grundar sinnar — hanns maðr goðs; hann of getr af goði sjalfum ár ok frið ǫllum mǫnnum —, þás þú rekr bœnir þínar fyr {reginnagla {máls bóka}}.

Pray to Óláfr that he grant you his ground [Norway], — he is God’s man; he obtains from God himself prosperity and peace for all people — when you present your prayers before {the sacred nail {of the language of books}} [LATIN > SAINT = Óláfr].

Mss: (487v), 39(11rb), E(2r) (Hkr); Holm2(71v-72r), 325VI(39vb), 321ˣ(273), 61(128vb), 325V(86rb) (ll. 1-4, 9-12), 325VII(40r), 325XI 2 n(1r), Bb(203va), Flat(127va), Tóm(159r) (ÓH)

Readings: [2] unni: árni E, 61, Flat, Tóm    [3] maðr: vinr 325VI, 321ˣ    [4] grundar: grundir Tóm;    sinnar: sinna 325VI, sínar 61, 325V, Tóm    [5] hann of: þvít hann 39, E    [6] af: at 325VII;    sjalfum: ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 n    [7] ár ok: ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 n    [9] þás (‘þa er’): so 39, E, Holm2, 325VI, 321ˣ, 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, þar er Kˣ;    rekr: reki 321ˣ, réttir 61, 325VII, Flat, reitir Tóm    [10] fyr: om. 325VI;    regin: rekin 325VI    [11] bóka: ‘bocka’ 61, boga Flat, Tóm    [12] bœnir þínar: bœnir E, bœn þinnar 321ˣ, bœnar þinnar 325V

Editions: Skj: Þórarinn loftunga, 3. Glælognskviða 9: AI, 327, BI, 301, Skald I, 153, NN §2017; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 521, IV, 175-6, ÍF 27, 408-9 (ÓHHkr ch. 245), E 1916, 3; ÓH 1941, I, 604 (ch. 245), Flat 1860-8, II, 377; Magerøy 1948, 16, 17-18, 30-6.

Context: See Context to st. 2 above.

Notes: [All]: In Skj and Skald, ll. 1-8 are printed as st. 9 and ll. 9-12 as st. 10, but the twelve lines are very tightly linked syntactically, with ll. 9-12 forming a subordinate clause dependent on ll. 1-2, 4, while ll. 5-8 form an independent main clause, as does l. 3. The collective evidence of the mss is equivocal in terms of stanza divisions, and in 39 and E, ll. 9-12 occur between ll. 1-4 and 5-8, while in 325V ll. 5-8 are omitted. — [2] þér ‘you’: The 2nd pers. pron. is sg. here, as also at ll. 9 and 12, indicating that the poet is specifically addressing Sveinn. — [3] maðr goðs ‘God’s man’: In later Old Norse translations from Latin, goðs maðr is used to render vir dei/domini ‘man of God / the Lord’, and also phrases such as vir sanctus/venerabilis ‘holy/venerable man’ (Walter 1976, 48). — [7] ár ok frið ‘prosperity and peace’: A formulaic phrase (though recorded only here in extant skaldic verse), with possible origins in pre-Christian ideas of kingship (see Lönnroth 1986, 83-6; Rainford 1995, 104-8). — [9] þás ‘when’: The reading of all the ÓH mss is here preferred to ’s reading þar er (normalised þars) ‘where’. — [9] rekr ‘present’: LP: rekja and CVC: rekja II suggest that rekr is from rekja ‘to unwind, trace, remember’, here ‘to present (prayers)’, but it is also possible that it derives from reka ‘to drive, perform, cast’. — [10] reginnagla ‘the sacred nail’: Regin n. pl. means ‘ruling, divine powers’, especially the heathen gods, and hence regin- can function as the first element in a cpd with the sense ‘sacred, divine, god-related, mighty’; the exact connotations here are unclear. The second element here, ‑nagla, could be either acc. pl. of the strong m. noun nagl ‘nail’ or acc./dat. sg. or acc. pl. of the weak m. noun nagli, also ‘nail’ (the prep. fyr ‘before’ can take either acc. or dat., depending on meaning). There are basically three alternatives as to the cpd’s meaning: (a) If reginnagla is sg. and figuratively refers to a person, then clearly the cpd is most likely to refer to the saint: Óláfr himself (so NN §2017; Magerøy 1948, 32-6; ÍF 27). Although the determinant máls bóka ‘of the language of books [LATIN]’ could point to the clergy, the reference to petitioning Óláfr in st. 9/1 points to him. (b) If reginnagla is pl., figuratively indicating people, it most probably refers to priests or clerics; so Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B). (c) If reginnagla is pl., but through pars pro toto indicates a built structure, it could indicate the church altar or Óláfr’s shrine. The term reginnaglar occurs also in Eyrbyggja saga (ÍF 4, 8), where it refers to nails hammered into high-seat pillars in a temple: þar fyrir innan stóðu ǫndvegissúlurnar, ok váru þar í naglar; þeir hétu reginnaglar ‘inside there stood the high-seat pillars, and there were nails in them; they were called holy nails’. — [11] bóka máls ‘of the language of books [LATIN]’: ON bók ‘book’ is a semantic loan from OE, and a development from an earlier meaning ‘textile, tapestry’, recorded in eddic verse (see LP, AEW: bók; Fischer 1909, 1). Though mál bóka may simply mean ‘the language of books, learned language’, the language of books, especially in early C11th Scandinavia, is specifically the Lat. language (compare OE bōclǣden ‘book-language, Latin’ and later ON bókmál ‘book-language, learned language, Latin’; see ONP: bókmál). This phrase thus supplies the first extant skaldic reference to both Lat. and books, and indicates that the poem’s genesis was in an at least partly ecclesiastical milieu.

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