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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (Gautr) 1VIII (Gautr 8)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 8 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísa from Gautreks saga 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 252.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísa from Gautreks saga1

text and translation

Ráð þykki mér         Refnefs vera
nökkru verri,         en Neri kendi.
Varpat sínu         á sæ féi
Gautrekr, er gaf         gullhring Refi.

Ráð Refnefs þykki mér vera nökkru verri, en Neri kendi. Gautrekr varpat féi sínu á sæ, er gaf gullhring Refi.
‘Refnefr’s advice seems to me somewhat worse than [what] Neri gave. Gautrekr did not cast his wealth into the sea when he gave Refr a gold ring.

notes and context

On Neri’s advice Refr visits a certain King Óláfr with some expensive gifts including a golden helmet and a byrnie. The king is with his fleet out at sea. His evil counsellor, named Refnefr ‘Fox-nose’, advises him against accepting the presents and makes off with them himself, diving down to the bottom of the sea, where Refr pursues him and recovers the byrnie, but not the helmet, surfacing in a state of exhaustion. The prose text then states þá var þetta kveðit ‘then this was spoken’, but does not name the speaker. Edd. Min. attributes the stanza to Refr himself.

The narrative underlying Gautr 8 is probably alluded to in RvHbreiðm Hl 53-4III, which mentions a generous sea-king named Óláfr flinging a golden helmet into the sea. The association with Gautrekr is confirmed by the following two sts of Hl, which are about Gautrekr; see RvHbreiðm Hl 54III, Note to ll. 1-4. — The stanza is in fornyrðislag metre, and there are many variant readings, some of which suggest scribal confusion, e.g. as with the name Neri in l. 4. — [5-8]: These lines hark back to an earlier episode in Gjafa-Refr’s career, when Neri advises Refr to visit King Gautrekr, who has been in the habit of sitting on his dead wife’s burial mound and flying his hawk from it. Normally, as the days wore on, the king ran out of objects to throw at the bird to bring it back, and at this point Refr, positioned behind Gautrekr, slipped a whetstone into the king’s hand, which he successfully threw at the bird. Gautrekr did not bother to look to see who gave him the whetstone, instead slipping a gold ring into Refr’s hand.



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 [XIII], E. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga I 7: AII, 323-4, BII, 343, Skald II, 185; FSN 3, 49, Gautr 1900, 45, 67, FSGJ 4, 46; Edd. Min. 96.


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