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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (Heiðr) 1aVIII (Heiðr 18 [a])

Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 18 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 1a)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 377.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísur from Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks


In disguise as a man and calling herself Hervarðr, Hervǫr Angantýsdóttir travels late one evening to Samsø (ON Sámsey), to seek out the burial mound of her father Angantýr. Her companions, a band of vikings whose leader she has become, refuse to go with her because they are afraid of the island’s eerie reputation. These stanzas narrate Hervǫr’s arrival on the island, and her subsequent conversation with a terrified shepherd.

These stanzas are sometimes considered together with the following group, Heiðr 25-48, as part of a long poem, often called ‘The Waking of Angantýr’ (see Introduction to Heiðr 25-47), and are presented as such in CPB, Edd. Min. and a number of translations including that by Larrington (2014, 268-73) (based on the present edition). Indeed, the present group sets the scene for and introduces the dialogue between Hervǫr and Angantýr which forms the major part of that poem (cf. e.g. Vafþr and Skí, which have similar introductory sections). In addition, there is verbal echoing across sts 18b-19 of the sort that happens in several places in Heiðr 25-48. The present stanzas are separated from the following group by a prose passage in all redactions of the saga, however. They have also been edited in Skj B II, 263-5, Skald II, 137-8 and Ettmüller (1861, 32), as well as in editions of the saga (see Introduction to Heiðr).

Hb, which is the main ms., paraphrases this group of stanzas in the immediately preceding prose, and presents the stanzas themselves one after the other with no intervening prose but an introductory statement (Heiðr 1924, 18): Þetta er kveðit eftir viðrœðu þeira ‘This is composed according to their conversation’. The other ms. witnesses, 2845 and R715ˣ, indicate the speaker before each stanza. Ms. 2845, and consequently other mss of the so-called R redaction, omits Anon (Heiðr) 1a (Heiðr 18a) (though rendering its contents into prose; see Note to [All]), and all of Herv Lv 6 (Heiðr 21) and Anon (Heiðr) 4 (Heiðr 24). It consequently reverses the order of Anon (Heiðr) 3 (Heiðr 22) and Herv Lv 7 (Heiðr 23) in order to maintain the alternation between the speakers, even though Hervǫr’s injunction to the shepherd, not to be afraid of the supernatural burning fires, is clearly a response to his complaints. Hb places Anon (Heiðr) 4 (Heiðr 24) after Herv Lv 6 (Heiðr 21), but this cannot be correct: the shepherd’s leaving must come at the end of the dialogue, not part-way through it. The metre is fornyrðislag.

text and translation

Hitt hefir mær ung         í Munarvági
við sólarsetr         segg at hjörðu.

Ung mær hefir hitt segg at hjörðu í Munarvági við sólarsetr.
‘The young woman has met a man tending his flock in Munarvágr at sunset.

notes and context

The present half-stanza is third-person narrative in Hb, but put into the mouth of the shepherd in R715ˣ (see second Note to [All] below), introduced with Fjárhirðir kvað vísu ‘The shepherd recited a stanza’.

Ms. 2845 does not contain this half-stanza, but the prose immediately preceding Anon Heiðr 1b (Heiðr 18b) contains the same essentials and some of the diction, perhaps suggesting a basis in a verse original (Heiðr 1960, 12): Hervarðr … lendi í Munarvági í þann tíma, er sól settisk, ok hitti þar mann þann er hjǫrð helt ‘Hervarðr … landed in Munarvágr at the time when the sun was setting, and met there that man who tended a flock’. — While this half-stanza is third-person narrative in Hb, R715ˣ attributes it to the shepherd, presenting a variant which may be rendered as follows:

Mælti Hervarðr        í Unnarvági
við solarsetr        snotr at máli.

Prose order: Hervarðr mælti, snotr at máli, í Unnarvági við solarsetr. Translation: Hervarðr spoke, wise in speech, in Unnarvágr at sunset.



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. 5. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Hervararsaga II 1/1-4: AII, 243, BII, 263, Skald II, 137; Heiðr 1672, 89FSN 1, 518, Heiðr 1873, 211, Heiðr 1924, 18, 105, Heiðr 1960, 12; Edd. Min. 13 n.


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