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.
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: Cf. Hjálmþérsrímur III, 20 (Finnur Jónsson 1905-22, II, 22). — 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).
texts: ‹HjǪ 3›
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.