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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 18 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, 1222

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — Anon Mhkv 8III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1222.

Bana þóttusk þeir bíða vel;
Brandingi svaf loks í hel;
Mardallar var glysligr grátr;
gleðr sá mann, er opt er kátr.
Ásmundr tamði Gnóð við gjálfr;
gulli mælti Þjazi sjálfr;
Niðjungr skóf af haugi horn;
hølzti eru nú minni forn.

Þeir þóttusk bíða bana vel; Brandingi svaf loks í hel; grátr Mardallar var glysligr; sá, er opt er kátr, gleðr mann. Ásmundr tamði Gnóð við gjálfr; Þjazi sjálfr mælti gulli; Niðjungr skóf horn af haugi; eru nú hølzti forn minni.

They determined to face death well; Brandingi at last slept to death; the weeping of Mardǫll <= Freyja> was glittering; the one who is often happy gladdens another. Ásmundr accustomed Gnóð <legendary ship> to the sea; Þjazi himself spoke in gold; Niðjungr scraped a horn from a burial mound; these are now exceedingly old stories.

Mss: R(54v)

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], A. [1]. Málsháttakvæði 8: AII, 132, BII, 140, Skald II, 74-5; Möbius 1874, 5, Wisén 1886-9, I, 74.

Notes: [1] þeir ‘they’: This apparently refers to the fearless heroes of the preceding stanza. — [2] Brandingi: Giant-name (Þul Jǫtna I 6/2); otherwise unknown. — [2] svaf … í hel ‘slept to death’: The sense is that he slept until he died, he died from sleeping too much. Í hel ‘to death’ is used here in the meaning ModDan. ihjæl, ModNorw. ihjel (cf. Skj B Brandinge sov sig endelig ihjæl lit. ‘Brandingi finally slept himself to death’). — [3]: This line, like l. 6 below, alludes to a well-known kenning. Mardallar (nom. Mardǫll < marr-þǫll ‘sea-fir-tree’; see Þul Ásynja 3/6) is a name for Freyja; her grátr ‘weeping’ is ‘gold’: see Gylf (SnE 2005, 29) and Skm (SnE 1998, I, 43-4), which cites five examples of this kenning-type, mostly from ESk Øxfl. Cf. SnSt Ht 42/6-8 fagrregn hvarma Mardallar ‘the fair rain of the eyelids [TEARS] of Mardǫll <= Freyja> [GOLD]’. Freyja’s tears glitter in Mhkv because they are gold; grátr Mardallar [GOLD], a kenning elsewhere, is used descriptively in this stanza. The kenning type has limited distribution outside Skm (see Guðrún Nordal 2001, 330; Meissner 227). See also Anon Bjark 5/6. — [5] Ásmundr: A sea-king sometimes known as Gnóðar-Ásmundr, after his ship Gnóð; hero of the popular Egils saga einhenda ok Ásmundar berserkjabana (FSN III, 365-407). See also Anon GnóðÁsm, Þul Sækonunga 4/7 and Note to Þul Skipa 3/1. — [6] Þjazi: Giant who, with his brothers, divided their father Ǫlvaldi’s gold by taking mouthfuls in turn (SnE 1998, I, 3); hence the gold-kenning ‘giant’s speech’, alluded to in this line. Cf. þingskil Þjaza ‘Þjazi’s <giant’s> assembly declarations [GOLD]’ (Anon Bjark 6/3). See Meissner 227. This gold-kenning was current in C12th Orkney: glórǫdd Gauta hellis ‘the gleaming-voice of the Gautar of the cave’ (Rv Lv 7/4-5II); kveðja þursa ‘the greeting of giants’ (RvHbreiðm Hl 71/6). — [7] Niðjungr: Lit. ‘kinsman, male descendant’. Unidentified figure; the noun designates one of Jarl’s sons in 41/3 (see Kommentar III, 640-2). — [7] skóf ‘scraped’: This is 3rd pers. sg. pret. of the verb skafa ‘shave, scrape’ (see st. 26/5) used figuratively (‘take, strip, steal’). See OED: shave for such slang meanings from at least the C14th on. The taking of a horn from a mound recalls the removal of a hart’s horn from a burial mound in Anon Sól 78/4-6VII. Amory (1985, 24 n. 42 and 1990a, 262 n. 43) argues that in Mhkv horn refers to the ‘corner’ of the mound. The story alluded to, like the name, remains obscure.

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