Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur, 9 [Vol. 2, 586-7]

[All]: After uttering st. 8, Rǫgnvaldr is offered a leather garment by the mistress of the farm where he is staying; the saga says hann ... tók hlæjandi við ok kvað ‘he ... accepted it with a laugh and spoke’ before citing st. 9. Finnbogi Guðmundsson’s interpretation of this st. (ÍF 34; similarly Bibire 1988, though his translation is not especially clear) links l. 2 with the main statement in the second helmingr, making Rǫgnvaldr say something to the effect that the leather garment just given to him will provide little finery whenever he steps better-dressed off a ship. While it is conceivable that Rǫgnvaldr is disparaging the garment by saying that he will never wear it in future, it makes more sense to see contrast rather than continuity between the two halves of the st. In ll. 1-2, Rǫgnvaldr is disparaging of a garment. In ll. 5-6, 8 he expresses the hope that in the future he will step well-dressed from his ship, in contrast to his present gear, which has been truly sodden (ll. 3-4). The st. makes no reference to a woman giving him a leather garment, and it is more natural to read l. 1 as referring to Rǫgnvaldr’s own sodden clothing which he is shaking out once on dry land. This interpretation is based on the argument made by Kock (NN §2735) that nærgis (l. 5) means not just ‘when, whenever’ (the usual meaning recorded in dictionaries), but has an additional implication of det blir kanske bättre en annan gång ‘things may be better another time’; he cites Egill Lv 19V, Þorm Lv 1V, Klauf Lv 2V and KormǪ Lv 40V which all show the poet with a positive attitude to a future event.


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