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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hjálmþér Ingason (Hjþ)

volume 8; ed. Richard L. Harris;

VIII. Lausavísur (Lv) - 16

not in Skj

Lausavísur — Hjþ LvVIII (HjǪ)

Richard L. Harris (forthcoming), ‘ Hjálmþér Ingason, Lausavísur’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <> (accessed 6 July 2022)

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SkP info: VIII, 495

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Hjþ Lv 2VIII (HjǪ 3)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Richard L. Harris (ed.) 2017, ‘Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis 3 (Hjálmþér Ingason, Lausavísur 2)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 495.

The following eight stanzas occur in an episode in which Hjálmþér meets and obtains a sword from the finngálkn ‘monstrous creature’ Vargeisa, in return for a kiss. Much later in the saga, Vargeisa is revealed as an Arabian princess, Álfsól, who has been put under a spell by her wicked stepmother and turned into a monster. The spell can only be broken if a prince kisses her. This humorously turned arming of the hero, traditionally undertaken in medieval romance by a lady with whom he has had friendly or intimate association, is one example of the mock-heroic narrative style adopted in much of HjǪ. HjǪ 4, 5 and 10 are in ljóðaháttr rather than fornyrðislag.

Hver er sú dóttir,         er um nótt miðja
flanar ok flöktir         með fíls hala?
Ólík þykki mér þú         öðrum vífum,
eða hvaðan kom         Hrauðungs mær?

Hver er sú dóttir, er flanar ok flöktir um miðja nótt með hala fíls? Þú þykki mér ólík öðrum vífum, eða hvaðan kom {mær Hrauðungs}?

Who is that daughter who flits and flutters about in the middle of the night with an elephant’s tail? You seem to me unlike other women, and where did {the girl of Hrauðungr <giant>} [GIANTESS] come from?

Mss: 109a IIIˣ(267v), papp6ˣ(48r), ÍBR5ˣ(88) (HjǪ)

Readings: [2] um nótt miðja: so ÍBR5ˣ, um nóttu 109a IIIˣ, drjugt um nætr corrected from um nótt in another hand papp6ˣ    [3] flanar ok flöktir: ‘flamar og flogtar’ 109a IIIˣ, ‘flaugtir og flanar’ corrected from ‘flaugtar og flamar’ in another hand papp6ˣ, ‘flamar ok floktir’ ÍBR5ˣ    [5] mér: om. papp6ˣ    [8] Hrauðungs: ‘hraudinns’ 109a IIIˣ, ‘hundnis’ papp6ˣ, ‘hraudvijs’ ÍBR5ˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 16. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Hjálmþérs saga ok Ǫlvis II 1: AII, 333, BII, 354, Skald II, 191; HjǪ 1720, 28, FSN 3, 474, FSGJ 4, 198, HjǪ 1970, 24, 82-3, 138.

Context: Hjálmþér and his men come to an island late one evening. Hjálmþér is standing guard outside their tents, but then walks to a hill where he hears loud crashing noises. Soon a huge female creature, named in the prose text as a finngalkn, emerges from the woods; she has a horse’s tail and hooves and a long mane; her eyes are white, her mouth large and in her huge hand she carries a beautiful sword. Hjálmþér recites this stanza, according to the saga prose, so as not to be at a loss for words.

Notes: [All]: Cf. Hjálmþérsrímur III, 20 (Finnur Jónsson 1905-22, II, 22). — [All]: This stanza follows a familiar pattern in an encounter between a fornaldarsaga hero and a supernatural figure (cf. Ket 3-7). The hero demands to know who his or her antagonist is, and in the process describes the stranger’s physical appearance. In most such encounters, the Otherworld figure is hostile, but in this case the creature, Vargeisa, who names herself in the following stanza, is friendly to Hjálmþér. In the prose text she is termed a finngálkn (or, the pre-1200 form, finngalkn), a noun that usually refers to a fabulous monster of disparate parts, part-animal and part-human (cf. ONP: finngalkn), whether classical, like the centaur, or indigenous. This is certainly the understanding of the prose text, which envisages a combination of human and horse. The stanza seems to envisage a different combination, of elephant (fíll, l. 4) and something bird-like, if the verbs flanar ok flöktar ‘flits and flutters about’ are any guide (see Note to l. 3 below). — [1] sú dóttir ‘that daughter’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends dóttir to drósa ‘woman’, presumably because the normal sense of dóttir ‘daughter’ seems inappropriate here, and also because he adopts drjúgt ‘greatly, very much’ in l. 2 (see below). However, dóttir may sometimes refer to women who are not family members (cf. ONP: dóttir), and this may be the case here. — [2] um miðja nótt ‘in the middle of the night’: The corrected reading of papp6ˣ, drjúgt um nætr ‘greatly during the nights’, which has been adopted by earlier eds from HjǪ 1720 onwards, restores the missing alliteration of this line on <d>. — [3] flanar ok flöktir ‘flits and flutters about’: No ms. has exactly these words in precisely this order. The mss’ ‘flamar’, which is not an Old Norse word, has been corrected to flanar ‘flits’ from flana, which is not recorded elsewhere in Old Icelandic but occurs in Modern Icelandic in the sense ‘rush, act rashly’ (ÍO: flana) while the uncommon flǫkta or flǫkða ‘flutter, fly about’ is used particularly of birds and flies (Fritzner: flökta). ModIcel. flökta means ‘wander, flutter, flicker’ (ÍO: flökta). — [5] mér ‘to me’: Papp’s omission of this pers. pron. makes the line metrical. — [8] Hrauðungs ‘of Hrauðungr’: This is an emendation taking account of the various ms. forms, which could be understood in at least two other ways: a) as the pers. n. Hrauðnis ‘of Hrauðnir’ or b) as the adj. hundvíss ‘very wise’, qualifying mær ‘girl’, assuming the scribe of papp6ˣ read ‘-uis’ as ‘-nis’. The latter, an adj. often collocated with the word jǫtunn ‘giant’, is the reading adopted by FSN. If either Hrauðungs or Hrauðnis is adopted, the phrase Hrauðungs or Hrauðnis mær becomes a giantess-kenning, as both proper names Hrauðungr and Hrauðnir are recorded as giant names. Hrauðnir is a sea-king in Þul Sækonunga 2/8III and a giant in Þul Jǫtna I 1/6III, while Hrauðungr is a sea-king in Þul Sækonunga 3/1III and a giant in Þul Jǫtna II 3/3III. The name Hrauðungr also appears in the prose preface to Grí as the name of the king whom Óðinn visits in disguise and it refers to a giant again in Hyndl 26/4. What is probably the same name appears in another stanza of HjǪ, 16/6, where 109a IIIˣ has the form ‘hraudings’. Skj B, Skald and FSGJ all have Hrauðungs and this form has also been adopted here, although the other possibilities are also plausible. The case for Hrauðnir is boosted considerably by the fact that this name occurs a number of times as the name of a giant in Hjálmþérsrímur II, 17, 21; IV, 26; X, 25 (Finnur Jónsson 1905-22, II, 182).

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