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Runic Dictionary

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

III. Málsháttakvæði (Mhkv) - 30

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. <> (accessed 22 September 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30 

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

SkP info: III, 1221

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Anon Mhkv 7III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1221.

Bjarki átti hugarkorn hart;
herlið feldi Stǫrkuðr mart;
ekki var hann í hvíldum hœgr;
Hrómundr þótti garpr ok slœgr.
Ókat þeim né einn á bug;
Eljárnir var trúr at hug;
fílinn gat hann í fylking sótt;
fullstrǫng hefr sú mannraun þótt.

Bjarki átti {hart hugarkorn}; Stǫrkuðr feldi mart herlið; hann var ekki hœgr í hvíldum; Hrómundr þótti garpr ok slœgr. Né einn ókat þeim á bug; Eljárnir var trúr at hug; hann gat fílinn sótt í fylking; sú mannraun hefr þótt fullstrǫng.

Bjarki had {a firm kernel of courage} [HEART]; Starkaðr felled a great troop; he was not gentle in repose; Hrómundr seemed bold and cunning. No one made him give way; Eljárnir was loyal at heart; he conquered the elephant in the phalanx; that test of manhood seemed very tough.

Mss: R(54v)

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], A. [1]. Málsháttakvæði 7: AII, 132, BII, 139-40, Skald II, 74, NN §2581B; Möbius 1874, 5, Wisén 1886-9, I, 74.

Notes: [1] Bjarki: Bǫðvarr bjarki ‘Little bear’, Biarco (Saxo 2005, I, 2, 6, 9-11, pp. 166-9; 2, 7, 4-28, pp. 170-87). Legendary hero at the court of the Danish king Hrólfr kraki ‘Pole-ladder’ (see Hrólf, FSGJ 1, 1-105; Anon Bjark; ÍF 35, 27 n. 33). — [1] hart hugarkorn ‘a firm kernel of courage [HEART]’: Heroic hearts are both small and hard; cf. HHund I 53/11-12 (NK 138): sá hafði hilmir | hart móðacarn ‘the prince had a firm courage-acorn [HEART]’. C12th kennings depicting the heart as the little ‘hard’ thing in the breast include akarn aldrklifs ‘acorn of the life-cliff [BREAST > HEART]’ and hvǫssu grjóti hugarsess ‘a sharp stone of the mind-seat [BREAST > HEART]’ (RvHbreiðm Hl 30/1-2, 5, 8) (also von See 1978; Meissner 138). — [2] Stǫrkuðr ‘Starkaðr’: Starkaðr/Starcatherus (< Stark-hǫðr ‘strong-warrior’), a legendary hero and poet featured in numerous fornaldarsögur (e.g. Gautr, FSGJ 4, 1-50; Sǫgubrot af fornkonungum, ÍF 35, 63-8; Ásmundar saga kappabana, Detter 1891; Saxo 2005, I, 6-8, pp. 390-543; cf. Beowulf ll. 2024-69 and Beowulf 2008, 229-30). See Poole (2006, 147-52) and Starkaðr Stórvirksson’s Biography in SkP VIII. — [3]: Skj B associates this parenthesis with the hero of the next line, Möbius (1874) and Skald, with the previous line. The praise of both heroes is litotic: for ‘not gentle’, read ‘homicidal maniac’. — [4] Hrómundr: From Hróð-mund ‘glory-hand’. Titular champion and mound-breaker of Hrómundar saga Gripssonar (FSN II, 363-80), a late saga based on rímur probably derived from a now-lost Hrómundar saga. — [4] garpr ok slœgr ‘bold and cunning’: Lit. a bold man’ (noun) and ‘cunning’ (adj.). — [5] né einn ókat þeim á bug ‘no one made him give way’: Bugr means ‘bend, curve’; aka e-m á bug  ‘make sby give way, beat sby back’ (ONP: bugr 2). Ókat is 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of aka (ók) plus the negative suffix -at. — [6] Eljárnir: Eleazar Avaran, crushed beneath the elephant he had stabbed from below in 1 Macc. VI.43-7, the only allusion to a biblical story in Mhkv and one of the more embarrassing deaths in world history. Guðbrandur Vigfússon (CPB II, 363) was first to identify Eljárnir with the Hebrew hero. Hermann Pálsson (1984, 263) sees a confusion between the pers. n. Eleazar and the adj. aljárnaðr ‘caparisoned’, used of the elephant killed by Eleazar in Gyðinga saga. — [8] mannraun ‘test of manhood’: This cpd occurs twice in Anon Pl 1/5VII and 12/4VII

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