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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Torf-Einarr Rǫgnvaldsson (TorfE)

9th century; volume 1; ed. Russell Poole;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 5

Skj info: Torf-Einarr jarl, Jarl på Orknøerne; omkr. 900. (AI, 31-32, BI, 27-28).

Skj poems:

Einarr jarl Rǫgnvaldsson (TorfE) ruled over the Orkneys at some time in the early tenth century. Our knowledge of him derives largely from Orkn, Fsk, and HHárf in Hkr; the relevant part of ÓT essentially derives from Hkr. All three principal compilations incorporate lausavísur ascribed to Einarr which are printed below as his five lausavísur. Additionally, Orkn and Hkr give a brief account of his life and of the events that the lausavísur relate to. Parts of the story are also told in Ldn (ÍF 1, 314, 316) but without the lausavísur (Mundal 1993, 248). His more familiar name, Torf-Einarr ‘Turf-Einarr’, is explained as due to his adoption of peat as a fuel in Orkney (ÍF 34, 11; ÍF 26, 129).

Einarr was a son of Rǫgnvaldr Mœrajarl ‘Jarl of Møre’, his mother being a concubine (see Note to Lv 1 [All] on Rǫgnvaldr’s sons). When King Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ awarded Rǫgnvaldr the rule of Orkney and Shetland in compensation for the killing of his son Ívarr, Rǫgnvaldr initially delegated it to his brother Sigurðr, then to Sigurðr’s son Guttormr, and after their deaths to his own son Hallaðr. Only after Hallaðr failed in the task did Rǫgnvaldr grudgingly assent to Einarr’s offer to take it on (ÍF 34, 10-11). Torf-Einarr established himself as lord of the islands, having first defeated two viking leaders; see Anon (Hhárf). The killing of Rǫgnvaldr, possibly at Haraldr’s instigation, precipitated the vengeance on Einarr’s part recounted in the lausavísur.

Lausavísur — TorfE LvI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Torf-Einarr Rǫgnvaldsson, 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. 129.

 1   2   3   4   5 

Skj: Torf-Einarr jarl: Lausavísur (AI, 31-2, BI, 27-8); stanzas (if different): 2 | 4 | 5

SkP info: I, 136

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — TorfE Lv 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Torf-Einarr Rǫgnvaldsson, Lausavísur 4’ 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. 136.

Rekit hefk Rǫgnvalds dauða
— rétt skiptu því nornir —
— nús folkstuðill fallinn —
at fjórðungi mínum.
Verpið, snarpir sveinar,
þvít sigri vér rôðum,
(skatt velk hônum harðan)
at Háfœtu grjóti.

Hefk rekit dauða Rǫgnvalds at fjórðungi mínum; nornir skiptu því rétt; nús {folkstuðill} fallinn. Verpið grjóti at Háfœtu, snarpir sveinar, þvít vér rôðum sigri; velk hônum harðan skatt.

I have avenged Rǫgnvaldr’s death for my quarter-share; the norns arranged that rightly; now {the people’s support} [RULER] is fallen. Throw stones at Háfœta (‘Long-legs’), brave lads, because we hold the victory; I choose hard tribute for him.

Mss: (70v), F(12rb), J1ˣ(40v), J2ˣ(40r) (Hkr); 332ˣ(13), Flat(29va), R702ˣ(37r) (Orkn); FskAˣ(314), 301ˣ(116r) (Fsk); 761bˣ(395r-v)

Readings: [1] hefk (‘hefi ec’): tel ek 332ˣ, Flat, hefi at 761bˣ;    hef‑ (‘hefi’): hefi with tel in margin FskAˣ    [2] rétt skiptu því nornir: so F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 332ˣ, Flat, 761bˣ, en réðu því nornir Kˣ, R702ˣ, ‘enn roðo þvi nꝍrer’ with rétt skiptu því nornir in margin FskAˣ, ‘enn roðo þvi no᷎rer’ 301ˣ    [3] folk‑: ‘fol’ 761bˣ    [4] at: af F;    fjórðungi: ‘fiortungi’ J1ˣ    [5] Verpið snarpir sveinar: hlýði snotrir seggir with verpið snarpir sveinar in margin FskAˣ;    Verpið: ‘hlætet’ J1ˣ, ‘hlæþet’ J2ˣ, 761bˣ, hlýði Flat, 301ˣ;    snarpir: snotrir J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Flat, 301ˣ, 761bˣ;    sveinar: seggir Flat, 301ˣ    [6] þvít: þann J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761bˣ;    sigri vér rôðum: so, with sigr hǫfum fengit in margin FskAˣ;    sigri: sigr J1ˣ, J2ˣ, R702ˣ, 761bˣ;    vér rôðum: hǫfum fengit J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 332ˣ, R702ˣ, 761bˣ    [8] at: af J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Flat, 761bˣ;    Háfœtu: háfœttu F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Flat

Editions: Skj: Torf-Einarr jarl, Lausavísur 2: AI, 32, BI, 28, Skald I, 17; ÍF 26, 132 (HHárf ch. 30), F 1871, 55; Orkn 1913-16, 13, ÍF 34, 15 (ch. 8), Flat 1860-8, I, 224; Fsk 1902-3, 298 (ch. 64), ÍF 29, 292 (ch. 74); von See 1960, 35.

Context: In Orkn, Torf-Einarr speaks this after ordering a burial mound to be constructed for Hálfdan. In Hkr, it appears after he has cut the ‘blood-eagle’ on Hálfdan’s back (see Note to Lv 3/1, 4). The context in Fsk is as for Lv 1 and 3.

Notes: [1, 4] hefk rekit ... at fjórðungi mínum ‘I have avenged ... for my quarter-share’: The speaker has done his share by killing Hálfdan; the three others have not (yet) done theirs. Three other brothers are named in Lv 1, though the prose evidence on the number and identity of the brothers is less certain (see Note to Lv 1 [All]). For the emphasis on family and kinship in these lausavísur, see Mundal (1993, 257). — [1] hefk ‘I have’: The minority reading telk (Rǫgnvalds dauða rekit) ‘I declare (Rǫgnvaldr’s death avenged)’ is also possible, though m. acc. sg. rekinn rather than n. nom. sg. rekit might have been expected. — [2] nornir skiptu því rétt ‘the norns arranged that rightly’: Torf-Einarr’s comment may mean that the norns were right both to appoint him to succeed in vengeance and to decree that Hálfdan should die (cf. Mundal 1993, 255). The reading skiptu rétt ‘arranged rightly’ has stronger support across the stemma, while en réðu ‘but/and ruled’ may have been influenced by rôðum, the majority reading in l. 6. — [2] nornir ‘the norns’: The conception of the norns as presiding over a person’s death as well as their birth resembles that of Hamð 29 and 30; see also Note to Þjóð Yt 17/2-3. — [3] folkstuðill ‘the people’s support [RULER]’: If not merely conventional, this heiti may refer ironically to Hálfdan’s act of presumption in declaring himself king of the Orkneys and the distress his advent is reported to have caused to the islanders (Orkn, ÍF 34, 12). — [5] verpið, snarpir sveinar ‘throw, brave lads’: The line provides an instance of skothending in an odd line, also seen in Lv 5/7, and of placement of the second of the two rhyming syllables previous to the fifth position in the line (see Introduction), also seen in l. 2 of this stanza. Hlaðið, snotrir seggir ‘pile up, wise warriors’ is apparently the reading that underlies the variants in J1ˣ, J2ˣ, FskAˣ, 301ˣ, Flat and 761bˣ; its effect is to tone down the gloating attitude of the speaker. — [5, 8] verpið grjóti ‘throw stones’: The exact application of these words is uncertain and perhaps deliberately ambiguous. (a) Stones, rocks and gravel were frequently used for mound burials, cf. kasta haug ‘erect a burial mound’ referring to Hálfdan’s mound in the prose of Orkn (ÍF 34, 15). (b) They might also be used for a rudimentary temporary or dishonorable interment of human beings, designed chiefly to keep animals off the corpse, or for the burial of livestock (cf. Olsen 1942b, 40-1; Genzmer 1943, 516-17). (c) Stoning might be used to put somebody to death, as in Hamð 25, but this is unlikely and it is not how the prose compilers understood the stanza (cf. von See 1960, 38). — [7] harðan skatt ‘hard tribute’: The sense is ‘I pay him with stones, not treasure or property’, with ironic play on the notion of tribute, perhaps alluding to demands placed by Hálfdan on the Orcadians (von See 1960, 37). — [8] Háfœtu ‘Háfœta (“Long-legs”)’: Hálfdan háleggr ‘Long-legged’ Haraldsson. This form of the nickname is associated with Hálfdan in some medieval texts, no doubt influenced by the present lausavísa, comparably with þegjandi ‘silent’ applied to Þórir (see Note to Lv 1/7 and Indrebø 1922, 56; cf. Mundal 1993, 255-6). The epithet háfœta is a grammatically f. version of Hálfdan’s nickname háleggr ‘Long-legged’. Olsen (1942b, 43-4) suggests that it implies effeminacy on Hálfdan’s part, as a níð or deadly insult to his surviving kindred.

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