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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, 134

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — TorfE Lv 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Torf-Einarr Rǫgnvaldsson, Lausavísur 3’ 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. 134.

Ey munk glaðr, síz geirar
— gótts vinna þrek manni —
bǫðfíkinna bragna
bitu þengils son ungan.
Þeygi dylk, nema þykki
— þar fló grár af sôrum
hræva nagr of holma —
hól undvala gœli.

Munk ey glaðr, síz geirar bǫðfíkinna bragna bitu {ungan son þengils}; gótts manni vinna þrek. Þeygi dylk, nema hól þykki {gœli {undvala}}; þar fló {grár nagr hræva} af sôrum of holma.

I will be forever glad now that spears of battle-keen men pierced {the young son of the king} [= Hálfdan]; it is good for a man to do a heroic deed. Not at all do I conceal the fact that it seems like vaunting {to the comforter {of wound-falcons}} [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR = Haraldr]; there {the grey bird of corpses} [EAGLE] flew from the wounded over the islands.

Mss: 332ˣ(12), R702ˣ(36v) (Orkn); FskAˣ(314), 301ˣ(116r) (Fsk); 761bˣ(395v)

Readings: [1] Ey: so R702ˣ, ‘Ǫ’ 332ˣ, 761bˣ, æ FskAˣ, 301ˣ;    síz: því at with síz in margin FskAˣ, því at 301ˣ    [2] gótts (‘gott er’): so R702ˣ, FskAˣ, 301ˣ, gótt 332ˣ, 761bˣ    [6] þar: þær 301ˣ;    grár: ár with grár in margin FskAˣ, ár 301ˣ    [7] nagr: naður R702ˣ, valr with nagr in margin FskAˣ, valr 301ˣ;    holma: holða R702ˣ    [8] hól undvala: ‘holunda vals’ with ‘holund vala’ in margin FskAˣ, ‘holunda vals’ 301ˣ;    gœli: ‘gelis’ 332ˣ, 761bˣ, ‘gelis’ in margin FskAˣ

Editions: Skj: Torf-Einarr jarl, Lausavísur 3: AI, 32, BI, 28, Skald I, 17, NN §2214; Orkn 1913-16, 12-13, ÍF 34, 14-15 (ch. 8); Fsk 1902-3, 297-8 (ch. 64), ÍF 29, 293 (ch. 74); Finnur Jónsson 1884, 98, von See 1960, 34.

Context: Orkn places this immediately after Lv 2 following its account of Hálfdan’s death. Fsk includes it without assigning a narrative context (cf. Context to Lv 1 and 4).

Notes: [1, 4] geirar ... bitu ungan son þengils ‘spears ... pierced the young son of the king [= Hálfdan]’: These words conflict with the prose accounts in Orkn and Hkr (see Context to Lv 2, and cf. ÍF 26, 132) which have Hálfdan escaping from battle and being put to death by the type of Viking atrocity known as the blóðǫrn ‘blood-eagle’ (cf. von See 1960, 36-7; on the blood-eagle see Note to Sigv Knútdr 1 [All]). The omission of the present stanza from Hkr may be an attempt to avoid this conflict (von See 1960, 36-8; ÍF 34); see further Note to Lv 5/7-8. — [2] gótts manni vinna þrek ‘it is good for a man to do a heroic deed’: This type of gnomic utterance, reminiscent of Beowulf, e.g. ll. 186-8, is not especially prevalent in skaldic poetry and may go to support the theory of a connection between these lausavísur and the eddic Hamðismál (e.g. Hamð 8/5-8; see Olsen 1936a). — [5] nema ‘the fact that’: See Fritzner: nema conj. 6 for similar constructions also involving dylja(sk) ‘conceal, deny, dissemble’. — [5, 8] hól þykki gœli undvala ‘it seems like vaunting to the comforter of wound-falcons [RAVENS > WARRIOR = Haraldr]’: (a) Despite the word division in the mss, hol- and undvala cannot be understood as a cpd of holund ‘flesh-wound’ and vala (from valr ‘falcon’) because the two syllables of holund- would resolve, leaving the line hypometric. Further, holund ‘flesh-wound, gash’ is otherwise unattested in skaldic poetry. The first syllable must therefore be construed as hól ‘vaunt, boast’ (cf. the attestations and senses listed by Fritzner, LP: hól, especially Þmáhl Máv 1V (Eb 3)). The ‘vaunting’ here can be understood contextually as referring back to the substance of the first helmingr, especially l. 2, which is a gloat or triumph on Einarr’s part. The word hól ‘hillock’ (acc. sg. of hóll or hváll) is a conceivable alternative but is not elsewhere attested in skaldic poetry and scarcely fits the context. Þykki is interpreted here in its standard sense ‘seem, be thought’, with gœli undvala (dat. sg.) ‘comforter of wound-falcons [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR]’ as its dat. object, referring to King Haraldr. (b) Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34; cf. ÍF 29; Mundal 1993, 256) interprets holund as ‘flesh-wound’ and þykki as an impersonal verb meaning ‘anger, cause resentment’, with gœli holundvala (dat. sg.) ‘comforter of wound-falcons [RAVENS > WARRIOR]’ as its object. But the sense ‘cause resentment’ is normally attested only for the m. v. þykkjask (Finnur Jónsson 1884, 98), and cf. the metrical objections to holund- above, which also apply to the following. (c) Finnur Jónsson (1884, 98-9; cf. Skj B; Orkn 1913-16; Skald; von See 1960, 34) offers a drastic double emendation of l. 8, holunda val sem gœlak ‘as I comfort the falcon of gashes [RAVEN/EAGLE]’. — [6] grár : sôrum: An instance of aðalhending: cf. Lv 5/2 seggr : skeggi and the Introduction. — [6] af sôrum ‘from the wounded’: Dat. pl. sôrum is here taken as a substantival use of the adj. sárr rather than part of the noun sár n. ‘wound’. Editors have commonly emended af to at, on the grounds that birds of carrion are more often spoken of as flying to corpses than from them (CPB II, 372; Finnur Jónsson 1884, 98; Skj B; Skald; ÍF 29). — [7] nagr ‘bird’: It is not clear what type of bird this word refers to. AEW: nagr suggests a bird of prey and compares (g)naga ‘gnaw’. — [7] of holma ‘over the islands’: Kock (NN §2214), like this edn, takes the phrase with the parenthetic clause, describing the bird’s flight. Finnur Jónsson (1884, 99; Skj B) instead takes it with ll. 5, 8, describing the warrior’s deeds.

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