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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

III. Málsháttakvæði (Mhkv) - 30

not in Skj

5: Málsháttakvæði (‘Proverb poem’) — Anon MhkvIII

Roberta Frank 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Málsháttakvæði’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1213. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1029> (accessed 5 August 2021)

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Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: A. [1]. Málsháttakvæði, Et orknøsk(?) digt, omkr. 1200. (AII, 130-6, BII, 138-45)

SkP info: III, 1242

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

29 — Anon Mhkv 29III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 29’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1242.

Orða er leitat mér í munn;
mælgin verðr oss heyrinkunn;
Yggjar bjór hverr eiga myni,
ósýnt þykkir lýða kyni.
Eyvit mun sjá atfrétt stoða;
allmjǫk erum vér lynd til hroða;
þeygi var sjá aflausn ill;
eiga skal nú hverr, er vill.

Er leitat orða í munn mér; mælgin verðr oss heyrinkunn; hverr myni eiga {bjór Yggjar}, þykkir ósýnt {kyni lýða}. Eyvit mun sjá atfrétt stoða; allmjǫk erum vér lynd til hroða; þeygi var sjá aflausn ill; nú skal eiga hverr, er vill.

They seek in my mouth for words; the chatter is well known to us [me]; who might possess {the strong drink of Yggr <= Óðinn>} [POETRY] seems unclear {to the race of men} [HUMANS]. That inquiry will not at all help; we are very much inclined to coarseness; this release was not at all bad; now anyone who wants it shall have it.

Mss: R(55r)

Readings: [4] ósýnt: ‘ysynt’ R    [7] sjá: ‘[...]’ R, ‘sia’ RFJ, RJS

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], A. [1]. Málsháttakvæði 29: AII, 136, BII, 145, Skald II, 78; Möbius 1874, 12, Wisén 1886-9, I, 76.

Notes: [All]: This stanza seems to shift registers, as the elevated, poetic words in the first helmingr are succeeded by down-to-earth and even vulgar ones in the second. — [1] er leitat orða í munn mér ‘they seek in my mouth for words’: Lit. ‘it is sought for words in my mouth’. Cf. the words of Óðinn in Hávm 141/4-5 (NK 40) after that god received a sip of the mead of poetry: orð mér af orði | orðz leitaði ‘one word found another word for me’. — [2] heyrinkunn ‘well known’: That is, ‘known to all (through hearsay)’. The cpd occurs in poetry only in Mhkv, see st. 9/7 above. — [3] bjór Yggjar ‘the strong drink of Yggr <= Óðinn> [POETRY]’: This kenning for ‘poetry’ is found elsewhere only in Bjbp Jóms 1/6I (as noted by Kreutzer 1977, 107, 116). Bjórr refers to a beverage, probably based on honey, with high alcoholic content; prose citations suggest an imported luxury (ONP: bjórr). — [4] ósýnt ‘unclear’: The emendation (of ms. ‘ysynt’) was first suggested by Jón Sigurðsson (Möbius 1874, 12 n.). — [4] kyni lýða ‘to the race of men [HUMANS]’: This kenning occurs elsewhere only in Refr Þorst 1/4. — [5] atfrétt ‘inquiry’: A cpd noun formed from the verb frétta (at e-u) ‘inquire (about sth.)’; attested in poetry only here, see ONP: atfrétt. — [6] hroða ‘coarseness’: This word is attested with the meanings ‘coarseness, trash, disturbance, storm’ (LP, CVC, Fritzner: hroði; cf. hrjóða ‘unload, empty out’). Skj B translates hroði as chikane ‘spitefulness’, Jón Sigurðsson as ‘rude quid’ (cf. Möbius 1874, 67) and Möbius (1874) inserts a question mark. The rest of the line (allmjǫk erum vér lynd til) was emended by Wisén (1886-9, I) to allmjǫk er mér lund til ‘I very much have a nature for’, a suggestion accepted by Skj B and Skald. The resulting line has the right number of syllables and the noun lund is easier to interpret than the adj. lynd ‘tempered, naturally inclined’ (either n. nom. pl. or f. nom. sg. rather than the expected m. nom. pl.). Nevertheless, the ms. reading has been retained in the present edn because there is no significant metrical difference between the D4-lines in this stanza (allmjǫk erum vér lynd til hroða) and in st. 15/3 (ørgrands erum vér lengst á leit) (both have neutralisation on the unstressed verb erum in metrical position 3). — [7] aflausn ‘release’: The word can also refer to ‘a discharge, loose bowels, diarrhea’. Aflausn is attested only here in poetry. See ONP: aflausn, Fritzner IV: aflausn. Skj B translates it as svar ‘response’, Möbius (1874, 41) as ich habe mich losgemacht ‘I have loosened, disengaged myself’. Cf. ESk Geisl 71/6VII leysa brag ‘deliver a poem’. Both senses – a literary release and a bodily discharge – may be operative in this line. — [8] nú skal eiga hverr, er vill ‘now anyone who wants it shall have it’: Skm (SnE 1998, I, 5) tells how Óðinn, after drinking the mead of poetry, flew back to the home of the gods, where he vomited much of his cargo into waiting vats. But he had such a fright that he voided some of the mead backwards. That part became the fool-poet’s share, and Hafði þat hverr er vildi ‘Anyone who wanted could have it’. The kenning ‘mud [= droppings] of the eagle’ for worthless poetry occurs three times in skaldic verse; at least two of these occurrences are directly dependent on Skm (see Frank 1981, 168-9). Alternatively, the sentence could refer to the fact that, unlike skalds who composed panegyrics in honour of magnates, the present poet does not dedicate his poem to any one in particular (‘anyone who wants it shall have it’).

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