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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Frag 2III

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2017, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Fragments 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 349.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonFragments


This fragment (Sigv Frag 2) is preserved only in LaufE. Nothing is known of its original poetic context, or its circumstances of composition, and while the attribution to Sigvatr is clear in all three mss it cannot be confirmed or denied. Although Sigvatr is renowned for his verbal facility and wit, the particular type of play with nýgerving found in this helmingr (see Notes below) is not characteristic of his work, and the metre is unique in his surviving oeuvre. It is runhent ‘end-rhyming’, here an end-rhymed version of fornyrðislag. The sequence of E- and B-lines each ending on a fully stressed syllable produces a clipped, battering effect also found in several other runhent compositions, for instance in much of Egill Skallagrímsson’s Hǫfuðlausn (Eg HflV) and throughout Einarr Skúlason’s Runhenda (ESk RunII). Here all four lines rhyme on the same syllable (-ǫrr), whereas rhyming in couplets is also common in runhent poetry. Runhent is more often used in lausavísur and ‘poems of a more mundane nature’ than in encomiastic poetry (Gade, SkP I, lix). The LaufE mss papp10ˣ (as main ms.), 2368ˣ and 743ˣ are used below.

text and translation

Brýnd vôru dǫrr;
boga fylgði hǫrr;
sparn rastar knǫrr
rádýris vǫrr.

Dǫrr vôru brýnd; hǫrr fylgði boga; {knǫrr rastar} sparn {vǫrr rádýris}.
‘Spears were whetted; the bowstring went with the bow; the ship of the league [HORSE] pounded the wake of the roe-deer [LAND].

notes and context

The citation is prefaced by a statement (papp10ˣ version), Kiender eru yxn, dyr eða hestar skipa heitum, eða hvala ‘Oxen, deer and horses are referred to by kennings using terms for ships or whales’. It is followed by Hier er hestur kallaður knor jarðarinnar ‘Here a horse is called a ship of the earth’.


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: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 14. Et par halvvers af ubestemmelige digte 2: AI, 275, BI, 254, Skald I, 131; SnE 1848-87, III, 348, LaufE 1979, 265-6, 341.


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