Cite as: Peter Jorgensen (ed.) 2017, ‘Ásmundar saga kappabana 1 (Hildibrandr, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 16.
The following six stanzas, which may originally have been from an independent poem sometimes referred to as ‘Hildibrandr’s Death-song’, are said to have been recited by Hildibrandr as he lay dying. Poems reviewing their lives are said to have been recited by several fornaldarsaga heroes, like Hjálmarr and Ǫrvar-Oddr, just before they die. These stanzas correspond, though with much elaboration on Saxo’s part, to Saxo 2015, I, vii. 9. 14-15, pp. 506-9.
|Mjök er vandgætt, hvé verða skal
um borinn öðrum at banaorði.
|Þik Drótt um bar af Danmörku |
en mik sjálfan á Svíþjóðu.
Mjök er vandgætt, hvé skal verða um borinn öðrum at banaorði. Drótt um bar þik af Danmörku en mik sjálfan á Svíþjóðu.
It is very difficult to deal with how one must be born to become the slayer of another. Drótt gave birth to you in Denmark and to me myself in Sweden.
Mss: 7(43r) (Ásm)
Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 12. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Ásmundar saga kappabana I 1: AII, 320, BII, 340, Skald II, 183, FF §31, NN §2994C; Peringskiöld 1722, 21 (ch. 9), FSN 2, 484-5 (ch. 9), Detter 1891, 98, FSGJ 1, 405 (ch. 9) (Ásm); CPB I, 190, Halvorsen 1951, 11; Edd. Min. 53, NK 313.
Context: After Ásmundr has slain a succession of Hildibrandr’s
best warriors, Hildibrandr
breaks into a berserk rage, slays his own son, and meets Ásmundr at the River
Rhine. Hildibrandr’s sword breaks on his adversary’s helmet and flies into the
Rhine. Mortally wounded, he utters a poem of six stanzas.
Notes:  vandgætt ‘difficult to deal with’: This cpd adj. has only one attested usage in prose, notably in Hallfr (Hallfr 1977, 52-3), where King Óláfr Tryggvason says to Hallfreðr that the sword he is giving him will be vandgætt because it has no sheath. Here Hildibrandr may mean that his fate, of being the killer of his half-brother, is a situation that is difficult to handle. — [3, 5]: In both ll. 3 and 5, the first element of the ms.’s of borinn ‘be born’ and of
bar ‘bore’ has been normalised to um,
to conform to Old Norse usage of the period after 1250. The untranslatable
pleonastic particle of occurs most
commonly in early poetic texts, and its presence here suggests a lengthy
transmission history for this stanza. — [5-6]: These lines are similar to Saxo 2015, I, vii. 9. 14, ll. 9-11, pp. 506-8: ‘Danica te tellus, me Sueticus edidit orbis, | Drot tibi maternum quondam distenderat uber: Hac genitrice tibi pariter collacteus exto’ ‘Danish territory bore you, | Sweden me. Once Drot extended a mother’s | breast to you; I too sucked milk from her teat.’ —  Drótt: Name of the mother of both
Ásmundr and Hildibrandr; she is consistently called Hildr in the saga prose,
but always Drota or Drot in Saxo, which would indicate that the prose was added
a considerable time after the stanzas were composed. —  af ‘in’: Lit. ‘from’. Several eds (e.g. Edd. Min., Skald) often emend af to í or á to better reflect events in the story. If an emendation is necessary, it could be either á, which would better parallel l. 8, or í for both lines, which would be the more common form.