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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 5 August 2021)

 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, 137

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — TorfE Lv 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Torf-Einarr Rǫgnvaldsson, Lausavísur 5’ 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. 137.

Eru til míns fjǫrs margir
menn of sannar deilðir
ór ýmissum ôttum
ósmábornir gjarnir.
En þó vitu þeygi
þeir, áðr mik hafi felldan,
hverr ilþorna arnar
undir hlýtr at standa.

Margir ósmábornir menn ór ýmissum ôttum eru gjarnir til fjǫrs míns of sannar deilðir. En þó vitu þeir þeygi, áðr hafi mik felldan, hverr hlýtr at standa undir {ilþorna} arnar.

Many high-born men of various families are eager for my life because of justified conflicts. And yet they do not know, before they have killed me, who gets to stand under {the sole-thorns} [CLAWS] of the eagle.

Mss: (70v), F(12rb), J1ˣ(40v), J2ˣ(40v) (Hkr); 332ˣ(13-14), Flat(29va-b), R702ˣ(37r) (Orkn); 761bˣ(395v)

Readings: [1] míns: om. Flat    [2] deilðir: fréttir 332ˣ, R702ˣ    [3] ór: af R702ˣ;    ýmissum: ýmissu 332ˣ    [5] vitu: vita F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Flat, 761bˣ    [6] hafi: hafa J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761bˣ    [7] ‑þorna: þorni F, þornar Flat, þornum R702ˣ    [8] at: af Flat;    standa: so F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, R702ˣ, 761bˣ, lúta Kˣ, stunda 332ˣ, stundu Flat

Editions: Skj: Torf-Einarr jarl, Lausavísur 4: AI, 32, BI, 28, Skald I, 17, NN §§2412, 2705, 3041; ÍF 26, 132-3 (HHárf ch. 30), F 1871, 55; Orkn 1913-16, 13, ÍF 34, 15-16 (ch. 8), Flat 1860-8, I, 224; von See 1960 , 35.

Context: In Orkn and Hkr, Torf-Einarr speaks this lausavísa as a defiant reply to warnings about possible reprisals on the part of other sons of Haraldr.

Notes: [2] of sannar deilðir ‘because of justified conflicts’: Sannar deilðir is explained in LP: deild as hvor der ene part virkelig har grund til strid ‘where one party genuinely has grounds for conflict’ (and cf. Fritzner: sannr 3 for this sense of sannr, normally ‘true’). The reading of two of the Orkn mss, of sannar fréttir ‘over accurate news’, makes good sense, but the third ms., Flat, agrees with the Hkr witnesses. — [4] ósmábornir ‘high-born’: Lit. ‘not small-born’. This may have particular point if Torf-Einarr was illegitimate (see Note to Lv 1 [All]). — [5] þó vitu þeir þeygi ‘and yet they do not know’: Finnur Jónsson (1884, 97) proposes emendation to þat vitu þeygi þeir, on the grounds that þeygi ‘not at all, and not, yet not’ is not elsewhere redoubled with þó ‘yet, though’. — [6] áðr hafi mik felldan ‘before they have killed me’: Here and elsewhere in the lausavísa Kock (NN §2412) suggests emendation to establish regular hendingar. — [7] hverr ilþorna arnar: The hendingar in this line echo those of l. 4. — [7] -þorna ‘thorns’: The acc. pl. -þorna is retained here, as in previous eds, since it is the reading of most mss, though dat. sg. -þorni (so F) or dat. pl. -þornum (so R702ˣ) might have been expected following standa undir ‘stand under’. — [7-8] standa undir ilþorna arnar ‘stand under the sole-thorns [CLAWS] of the eagle’: It is possible that this phrase prompted the inclusion of the ‘blood-eagle’ motif in the prose of Orkn and Hkr (von See 1960, 36-7 and Note to Lv 3/1, 4). If so, the phrase has been misunderstood since it merely presents the familiar stereotyped vignette of the carrion bird devouring a fallen warrior. — [8] standa ‘stand’: The sense is ‘be situated’ rather than ‘hold upright posture’. The reading lúta ‘bend, bow, yield’ arguably suits the position of a body beneath a carrion bird better than standa (NN §3041), but since all other mss have variants on standalúta appears to be a case of oral or scribal ‘improvement’.

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