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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Bjark 4III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Bjarkamál in fornu 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 500.

Anonymous PoemsBjarkamál in fornu

text and translation

Gramr inn gjǫflasti         gœddi hirð sína
Fenju forverki,         Fáfnis miðgarði,
Glasis glóbarri,         Grana fagrbyrði,
Draupnis dýrsveita,         dúni Grafvitnis.

Inn gjǫflasti gramr gœddi hirð sína {forverki Fenju}, {miðgarði Fáfnis}, {glóbarri Glasis}, {fagrbyrði Grana}, {dýrsveita Draupnis}, {dúni Grafvitnis}.
‘The most munificent prince enriched his retinue with Fenja’s <giantess’s> toil [GOLD], Fáfnir’s <dragon’s> land [GOLD], Glasir’s <grove’s> glowing foliage [GOLD], Grani’s <horse’s> fair burden [GOLD], Draupnir’s <mythical ring’s> precious sweat [GOLD], Grafvitnir’s <snake’s> feather-bed [GOLD].

notes and context

The three stanzas 4, 5 and 6 are introduced thus in mss of Skm (SnE 1998, I, 60): Í Bjarkamálum inum fornum eru tǫ<l>ð mǫrg gulls heiti ‘In Bjarkamál in fornu many terms for gold are listed’. The stanzas then follow without further prose intervention.

The three stanzas 4, 5 and 6 list kennings for gold. All but one are dependent on mythological or legendary narratives for their rationale. Many of these kennings are either not recorded elsewhere or are only found in poetry from the mid-twelfth century onwards (cf. Olrik 1903-10, I, 98-101; Guðrún Nordal 2001, 329-30). There are close parallels between the gold-kennings deployed in these stanzas and those used by Einarr Skúlason in ESk Øxfl (especially sts 1-3, 6 and 9) and by Snorri Sturluson, both as advocated in SnE and as used in SnSt Ht 41-2. Given that Snorri knew and quoted these stanzas from Bjark, they may have served him as a model in Ht 41-2, as the subject of those stanzas is the generosity of Skúli jarl Bárðarson, which may be compared implicitly in Ht with that of Hrólfr kraki (see also SnSt Ht 94/2). — [5-6]: The lines are fornyrðislag (Type D) rather than málaháttr.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [X], II. A. Bjarkamál en fornu 4: AI, 181, BI, 170, Skald I, 91; SnE 1848-87, I, 400-3, II, 321, 432, 516, 581, III, 68, SnE 1931, 143, SnE 1998, I, 60; LaufE 1979, 271, 348-9.


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