Cite as: Richard L. Harris (ed.) 2017, ‘Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis 11 (Hjálmþér Ingason, Lausavísur 5)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 503.
In the passage of the saga (Ch. 12 in FSGJ) where these stanzas are located, Hjálmþér, Ǫlvir and Hǫrðr meet and contend with a number of sea-ogresses. Later Hǫrðr obtains several items from their cave that prove useful during the heroes’ subsequent confrontation at the court of King Hundingi in their quest for his daughter Hervǫr.
|Hvert er þat bákn, er í bjargi sitr
ok sér of konungs …?
Enga veit ek þér
| ámátligri |
alna fyrir jörð ofan.
Hvert bákn er þat, er sitr í bjargi ok sér of … konungs? Ek veit enga alna ámátligri þér fyrir ofan jörð.
Who is that monster who sits on the rock and looks down on the king’s …? I know no female born more loathsome than you on the face of the earth.
Mss: 109a IIIˣ(269v), papp6ˣ(50r), ÍBR5ˣ(90) (HjǪ)
Readings:  er: om. papp6ˣ; bákn: barn ÍBR5ˣ  of: so ÍBR5ˣ, af 109a IIIˣ, papp6ˣ; konungs: konung ÍBR5ˣ; …: all  þér: om. papp6ˣ  alna: alda all
Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 16. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Hjálmþérs saga ok Ǫlvis III 1: AII, 335, BII, 355, Skald II, 192, NN §2614; HjǪ 1720, 35, FSN 3, 480, FSGJ 4, 205, HjǪ 1970, 30, 87, 145.
a huge sea-ogress, Ýma, standing
in the middle of a high mountain, Hjálmþér
asks her name challengingly.
Notes:  bákn ‘monster’: This is the sense both here and in Anon (Vǫlsa) 12/8I, where the noun is used of the embalmed horse’s penis, Vǫlsi. Elsewhere the term is only recorded in the cpd sigrbákn ‘victory beacon’ (ÍF 23, 243; Andersson and Gade 2000, 440), where the context clearly indicates its status as a foreign expression. Here the basic sense of bákn is ‘beacon, signal’, as in other Germanic languages (cf. AEW, Fritzner: bákn; cf. OE bēacen ‘sign, portent’). The simplex is not recorded in ONP, though the verb bákna ‘give a sign’ is probably related. Ms. ÍBR5ˣ’s reading barn ‘child’ is not recorded in Skj A, but appears firm, though interpretation depends on the mark of abbreviation used for the middle two letters. Barn is inappropriate in context, unless used ironically. —  …: There is no lacuna in any of the mss but l. 3 is hypometrical as it stands and obviously requires a monosyllabic noun alliterating on <s> or <k> to fill the gap. Most eds have supplied sveit ‘company’ (so Skj B, Skald and FSGJ; cf. NN §2614). —  alna ‘born’: All mss have alda ‘of men’, gen. pl. of ǫld ‘humans, men’. This would produce a possible meaning, though slightly awkward, viz. Ek veit enga alda fyr jörð ofan ámátligri þér ‘I know no female among people on the face of the earth more loathsome than you’. Earlier eds (HjǪ 1720, FSN) retain alda, while Skj B, Skald and FSGJ have alna.