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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Úlfr Uggason (ÚlfrU)

10th century; volume 3; ed. Edith Marold;

Húsdrápa (Húsdr) - 12

Skj info: Ulfr Uggason, Islandsk digter, o. 1000. (AI, 136-9, BI, 128-30).

Skj poems:
1. Húsdrápa
2. Lausavísa

The skald Úlfr Uggason (ÚlfrU) lived around the year 1000 in Western Iceland. Little is known about his life. According to Ldn (S 76, H 64, ÍF 1, 111) he was married to Járngerðr, the daughter of Þórarinn Grímkelsson. Njáls saga (ch. 60, ÍF 12, 152) mentions his losing a lawsuit against Ásgrímr Elliða-Grímsson. The episode told in Njáls saga (ch. 102, ÍF 12, 261-4) about Úlfr refusing a request by Þorvaldr veili ‘the Miserable’ to use force against the missionary Þangbrandr, portrays him as a cautious man. That request and Úlfr’s dismissal of it are recounted there in two lausavísur (Þveil LvV, ÚlfrU LvV; see also Kristni saga ch. 9, ÍF 15, 2, 20-1). According to Laxdœla saga (ch. 29, ÍF 5, 79-80), he must have been on good terms with Óláfr pái ‘Peacock’ and his family, for whom he composed Húsdrápa ‘House-drápa’ (c. 980), a poem celebrating the myths depicted in images within their hall at Hjarðarholt.

my abbr

Húsdrápa — ÚlfrU HúsdrIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Úlfr Uggason, Húsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 402.

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Skj: Ulfr Uggason: 1. Húsdrápa, 983 (AI, 136-8, BI, 128-30); stanzas (if different): 3 | 4 | 5 | 8 | 9 | 10

SkP info: III, 405

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — ÚlfrU Húsdr 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Úlfr Uggason, Húsdrápa 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 405.

Hjaldrgegnis telk Hildar
hugreifum Ôleifi
(hann vilk at gjǫf Grímnis)
geðfjarðar lô (kveðja).

Telk hugreifum Ôleifi {lô {geðfjarðar} {{Hildar hjaldr}gegnis}}; vilk kveðja hann at {gjǫf Grímnis}.

I recite {the water {of the mind-fjord} [BREAST] {of the promoter {of the noise of Hildr <valkyrie>}}} [(lit. ‘noise-promoter of Hildr’) BATTLE > = Óðinn > POEM] for the glad-hearted Óláfr; I want to summon him to {the gift of Grímnir <= Óðinn>} [POEM].

Mss: R(21v), Tˣ(22r), W(46), U(27r), B(4v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Hjaldrgegnis: so U, hoddmildum all others;    telk (‘tel ek’): so U, tér all others    [2] hug‑: her‑ U    [3] vilk (‘vil ec’): ‘vi ek’ W;    Grímnis: ‘[…]nis’ U    [4] ‑fjarðar: so all others, ‑njarðar R

Editions: Skj: Ulfr Uggason, 1. Húsdrápa 1: AI, 136, BI, 128, Skald I, 71; SnE 1848-87, I, 250, II, 307, 522, III, 14, SnE 1931, 94, SnE 1998, I, 14.

Context: The helmingr is cited in Skm (SnE) among other stanzas illustrating kennings for ‘poetry’.

Notes: [All]: Mss R, , W and B give a version of the first line (Hoddmildum tér Hildar) that does not generate a poem-kenning, because lô geðfjarðar ‘water of the mind-fjord [BREAST]’ needs a term for Óðinn as determinant, and only hildar ‘of battle’ or ‘of Hildr’ is available. Such a poem-kenning would follow the pattern of Egill Hfl 1/2, 3V (Eg 34) marr munstrandar Viðris ‘sea of the mind-beach [BREAST] of Viðrir <= Óðinn> [POEM]’. Ms. U provides the necessary Óðinn-kenning, hjaldrgegnis Hildar ‘of the promoter of the noise of Hildr <valkyrie> [BATTLE > = Óðinn]’, and the U version has therefore been adopted in the present edn (so also Skj B and Skald). SnE 1998 follows R, but this results in an unacceptable word order (see Note to l. 4 geðfjarðar below). — [All]: This stanza has all the characteristics of an opening stanza of a drápa presented to a ruler (cf. Eskál Vell 1I). It addresses the one to be honoured by name, uses a special formula for the invitation to listen to the poem (see Note to ll. 3, 4) and contains one extended poem-kenning as well as another. The theme of the mead of poetry is taken up again in sts 9 and 12. — [1] telk ‘I recite’: All earlier eds adopt ték ‘I present, I show’, emended from tér (so mss R, , W, B). Ms. U offers the semantically more appealing telk (see LP: telja 3), also considered by Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 163), which does not require emendation. Kreutzer’s material (1977, 149-50, 153) shows also that a skald is more likely to use telja than tjá when introducing poetic recitation. — [1] Hildar hjaldrgegnis ‘of the promoter of the noise of Hildr <valkyrie> [(lit. ‘noise-promoter of Hildr’) BATTLE > = Óðinn]’: On kennings referring to Óðinn as an instigator of battle, see Meissner 253. This expression could also be a warrior kenning used for Óðinn, however; cf. sigrunni ‘victory-tree’ used as an Óðinn-kenning (see st. 10/1 and Note there). — [2] hugreifum ‘glad-hearted’: The variant herreifum lit. ‘troop-happy’ (U) is also possible. — [3, 4] vilk kveðja hann at gjǫf Grímnis ‘I want to summon him to the gift of Grímnir <= Óðinn>’: This is a special formula for an invitation to listen to the poem which occurs in several opening stanzas, e.g. in Steinn Frag 1/2 (for other examples see Note there). — [3] Grímnis ‘of Grímnir <= Óðinn>’: On this name for the god, see Note to Þul Óðins 1/7. — [4] geðfjarðar ‘of the mind-fjord [BREAST]’: Unlike the other mss, R has ‘geðniarþar’ here. In an attempt to retain the R reading, Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 285) construes the following poetry-kenning: geð-Njarðar hildar ‘liquid of battle-Njǫrðr’s mind (i.e. breast)’. However, literally this kenning translates as ‘the liquid of the mind-Njǫrðr of battle’; to be comprehensible the kenning would need to be rearranged as geð(s) Njarðar hildar, which results in an unacceptable word order, because the cpd geð-Njarðar ‘mind-Njǫrðr’ is split and geð- exchanged for the gen. hildar ‘of the battle’. Wisén (1886-9, 19-20) argues that geðfjǫrðr cannot be a kenning for ‘breast’ because base-words in kennings construed according to this pattern always denote a country or a landscape; hence he emends to geðjarðar ‘of the mind-earth’. Fjǫrðr can denote both the watery area of a fjord and the surrounding areas, however (cf. Firðir ‘Fjordane’, a district in Norway).

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