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Runic Dictionary

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Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld (Þorm)

11th century; volume 5; ed. R. D. Fulk;

I. Lausavísur (Lv) - 21

This edition is currently in preparation. The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.

Þormóðr Bersason’s (Þorm) story is told in Fóstbrœðra saga ‘Saga of the Sworn Brothers’ (Fbr), and on its witness he may be supposed to have been born c. 998 and to have died of a wound received in the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. The saga, however, is untrustworthy as to particulars, as the author seems to have derived most of his information about the poet from the poetry available to him. According to the saga, in childhood he and his friend Þorgeirr Hávarsson each swore that he would avenge the killing of the other if he lived. The latter, at the age of fifteen, avenged the killing of his father, initiating a string of thirteen killings commemorated in Þormóðr’s poem celebrating his sworn brother, ÞorgeirsdrápaDrápa about Þorgeirr’ (Þorgdr). Even though their friendship ended when Þormóðr was about fifteen, Þormóðr travelled to Greenland after Þorgeirr was killed (c. 1024), to take vengeance on the perpetrator Þorgrímr trolli (‘Troll’? see Note to Fbr 29/1) and three of his sons. The poet earned his nickname kolbrúnarskáld ‘Coal-brow’s Poet’ for having composed poetry in praise of Þórbjǫrg kolbrún Glúmsdóttir, though none of these survive (probably for reasons of a moral nature; see Boyer 1990, 80). According to Þormóðar þáttr (Þorm; see Þorm Lv 10-11I) he served King Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great) in Denmark before returning to Norway, where he spent the last part of his short life in the service of the king, Óláfr Haraldsson (S. Óláfr). According to a memorable passage in Hkr, on the morning of the battle of Stiklestad he recited Bjarkamál in fornu (Anon Bjark 1-2III) to rouse the king’s troops. For further biographical information, see Finnur Jónsson (1932-3, 31-3), ÍF 6, lii-lxx and Schach (1993).

Lausavísur — Þorm LvV (Fbr)

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘ Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, 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. 820. <> (accessed 16 January 2022)

stanzas:  10   11   15   16   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25 

cross-references:  17 = Anon (Vǫlsa) 11I 

for reference only:  18x   19x   20x   21x   22x   23x   24x   25x 

Skj: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld: 2. Lausavísur (AI, 281-8, BI, 260-6); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 12 | 13 | 14

SkP info: I, 827

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

16 — Þorm Lv 16I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 16’ 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. 827.

Sex hefk alls, síz óxu
ónhjalta Tý fjónir,
— kenndr emk við styr stundum —
stálregns boða vegna.
Þó emk enn at mun manna
morðs varliga orðinn
(vér létum þó þeira)
þrítøgr (skarar bíta).

Hefk vegna alls {sex boða {stálregns}}, síz fjónir óxu {Tý ónhjalta}; emk stundum kenndr við styr. Þó emk enn varliga orðinn þrítøgr at mun {manna morðs}; vér létum þó bíta skarar þeira.

I have killed, in all, {six announcers {of steel-rain}} [BATTLE > WARRIORS] since hostilities grew {against the Týr <god> of sword-hilts} [WARRIOR = me]; I am at times known for fighting. Yet I am still barely turned thirty, to the satisfaction {of men of battle}; we [I] nonetheless caused their scalps to be cleaved.

Mss: Flat(105ra) (Flat); 142ˣ(69), 566aˣ(2v) (Fbr); DG8(99r) (ÓHLeg); 761bˣ(487v)

Readings: [1] síz óxu: síðan óxum 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 761bˣ, er ôru DG8    [2] ón‑: en 142ˣ, ór 566aˣ;    Tý: mér all others;    fjónir: fjórir 566aˣ    [3] emk (‘em ek’): so 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 761bˣ, er ek Flat, ‘er mek’ DG8    [4] ‑regns: ‘rengs’ DG8    [5] Þó: nú DG8;    enn at: ok 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 761bˣ, enn ok DG8;    mun: namk DG8    [6] morðs varliga orðinn: morð varlegra forðum DG8    [8] bíta: om. DG8

Editions: Skj: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld, 2. Lausavísur 16: AI, 285, BI, 264, Skald I, 136, NN §§2483, 2484; Flat 1860-8, II, 203, Fbr 1925-7, 227, ÓH 1941, II, 802, ÍF 6, 286-7, ÍS III, 2279 (Þorm); Loth 1960a, 126 (Fbr ch. 14); ÍS III, 2281 (ÞormR); ÓHLeg 1849, 66, 117, ÓHLeg 1922, 80, ÓHLeg 1982, 184-5; Gaertner 1907, 310, 332-3, Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 69-70.

Context: In Þorm, a conversation follows the preceding stanza, in which the king asks Þormóðr how many men he has killed, and the poet replies with Lv 16. In ÞormR, the context is similar, but Þorm Lv 3V (Fbr 19) is also cited before this stanza. In ÓHLeg, the king asks the question for no apparent reason after Þormóðr has recited Bjarkamál on the way to Stiklestad (ON Stiklastaðir).

Notes: [1] sex ‘six’: Five men whom the poet has slain are named in Þorm Lv 13V (Fbr 29), on which see the Notes in SkP V. In addition, Þormóðr killed King Óláfr’s forecastle-man, according to saga tradition (see the Context to Lv 15). — [2] Tý ónhjalta ‘the Týr <god> of sword-hilts [WARRIOR = Þormóðr]’: A hjalt is more strictly either a knob at the end of a hilt or the guard between hilt and blade (see Note to Anon Ól 1/5). The meaning of ónn has not been firmly established, though undoubtedly it refers either to a sword or to a part of a sword. It appears in Þul Sverða 11/5III, and Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 368) renders the word ‘patterning on sword-blade’. (a) The present reading, retaining ms. ón and assuming the sense ‘sword’, is that of Kock (NN §2483). (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B emended to óns hjalta, taking ónn hjalta to be a kenning for ‘sword’, and in 1932-3 rejected the hypothesis of Falk (1914b, 19), that this is Ônn, comparable with Swed. dial. ån (m.) and MHG jān (m.) ‘row of mown grass or reaped grain’; Falk noted its appearance in Norwegian place names with the meaning ‘striated meadow’. — [5-6, 8] þó emk enn varliga orðinn þrítøgr at mun manna morðs ‘yet I am still barely turned thirty to the satisfaction of men of battle [WARRIORS]’: (a) The reading adopted here broadly follows Kock (NN §2484, followed by ÍF 6 and ÍS), except that þó is taken as an adv. within a main clause rather than a conj. introducing a subordinate clause. The interpretation of at mun manna (morðs) as ‘to the satisfaction of men (of battle)’ originates with Gaertner (1907, 333), who compares at mun banda ‘at the will/pleasure of the gods’ (Eskál Vell 8/2, Edáð Banddr 9/1); cf. also í mun manni ‘after the man’s wishes’ (KormǪ Lv 60/3V (Korm 81)). Its precise meaning in context is not evident, and this seems to have led Finnur Jónsson to emend in Skj B. (b) Skj B reads ‘now’ for þó ‘though’ in l. 5 (with Flat, to avoid the repetition of þó in l. 7), ok ‘and’ for at ‘to’ (with all the mss except Flat), man ‘remember’ for mun ‘satisfaction’ (as suggested by Sveinbjörn Egilsson: a common scribal confusion or variation if it is a verb), and morð ‘killing, battle’ for morðs (with DG8), giving the sense ‘now I am hardly yet turned thirty, and I remember the fall of men’. This gives clearer meaning, but it demands the assumption of some scribal improbabilities. For example, it is difficult to see why the reading should have been altered to þó everywhere but in the otherwise rather unreliable DG8, while the reverse development is not hard to explain. Further, it creates full rhyme in the odd line (though this is paralleled, e.g. in Þorm Lv 3/1V (Fbr 19), Lv 6/3V (Fbr 24) and Lv 8/3V (Fbr 26)). — [7, 8] bíta skarar þeira ‘their scalps to be cleaved’: Lit. ‘to bite their hair’; ‘sword(s)’ must be understood as the implied subject of bíta

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