Cite as: Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1217.
|Ekki hefk með flimtun farit;
fullvel ættak til þess varit;
yrkja kann ek vánu verr;
vita þykkisk þat maðrinn hverr.
|Stolit væri mér ekki ór ætt, |
jafnan þótt ek kvæða slétt;
róa verðr fyrst á it næsta nes;
nǫkkut ættak kyn til þess.
Hefk ekki farit með flimtun; fullvel ættak varit til þess; kann ek yrkja vánu verr; hverr maðrinn þykkisk vita þat. Ekki væri stolit mér ór ætt, þótt ek kvæða jafnan slétt; verðr fyrst róa á it næsta nes; ættak nǫkkut kyn til þess.
I have not gone in for lampoons; full well would I have had excuse for that; I can compose more rudely than you’d expect; every man thinks he knows it. Nothing would be stolen from my patrimony, even if I should always recite smoothly; one has to row first toward the nearest headland; I would have some pedigree for that.
Readings:  Ekki: ‘[...]’ R, ‘[...]ki’ RFJ, RJS  verr: ‘[...]’ R, verr RFJ, RJS
Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], A. . Málsháttakvæði 2: AII, 131, BII, 138, Skald II, 74, NN §§2581A, 3268; Möbius 1874, 3, Wisén 1886-9, I, 73.
Notes: [1, 3] ekki; verr ‘not; more rudely’: Neither word now visible; emendations by Jón
Sigurðsson and accepted by all subsequent eds. —  flimtun ‘lampoons’: Lit. ‘lampoon’ (sg.). For flimtun and the more common form flimtan, see ANG §137.2 Anm. 3. —  maðrinn ‘man’: Lit. ‘the man’. The first of sixteen different nouns in Mhkv with postposited def. art., the vast majority occupying line-initial position; see sts 5/6, 7/7, 11/6 (14/6, 17/6, 20/6), 12/2, 12/3, 13/7, 16/8 (twice), 19/1, 19/2, 19/6, 21/1, 21/6, 25/2, 29/2. — [5-8]: After boasting
inadequacy (I can compose vánu verr lit. ‘worse than expected’),
speaker illustrates his ineptitude with two apparently imperfect rhymes
(ætt : slétt and nes : þess). —  slétt (adv.) ‘smoothly’: Cf. sléttr adj. ‘smooth, even’. Used with reference to poetic art in Anon Leið 3/2VII, 25/3VII, ESk Geisl 50/3VII, Anon Gyð 1/4VII, Anon Lil 3/4VII and Hst Rst 1/1I. Kock (Skald), following Jón Þorkelsson (Möbius 1874, 615), emends to slætt ‘blunt, obtuse, without point’ in order to improve the rhyme: cf. the paired ætt ‘family’: óslætt ‘un-obtuse, able’ in RvHbreiðm Hl 78/8. —  á it næsta nes ‘toward the nearest headland’: The skald will begin at the beginning, i.e. with his own lot. Skj B, following Eiríkr Magnússon (1888, 325) and Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, II, 137), emends to til ens næsta ness for the sake of rhyme. The opening of Nóregs konungatal (Anon Nkt 2/1-4II) uses a similar proverb (although in an opposite meaning), comparing rowing out after whales to composing a genealogical poem: róa skal fyrst | fjarri reyði, | koma þó niðr | nær, áðr lúki ‘one must first row far from the whale, yet come down close before it is finished’.