Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Keth Lv 11VIII (Ket 16)

Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 16 (Ketill hœngr, Lausavísur 11)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 566.

Ketill hœngrLausavísur


The following twelve stanzas in ljóðaháttr and fornyrðislag (or málaháttr) comprise a senna between Ketill hœngr and a troll-woman (trollkona) named Forað, whom he meets while on a fishing expedition during a famine which has taken hold in the region of Hrafnista where he lives. According to the prose text Ketill sees the woman on a headland, where she has just come from the sea, and is as black as pitch. She glotti í móti sólu ‘grinned scornfully in the face of the sun’. The troll-woman’s name means literally ‘an inaccessible place’ or ‘a place that one cannot manage to escape from’, hence ‘danger, dangerous creature’ (LP: forað). The episode has a fairly close parallel in GrL ch. 1 (GrL 1-5).

text and translation

Hvat er þat flagða,         er ek sá á fornu nesi?
At uppiverandi sólu,         er ek hefik önga eina
        leiðiligri litit.

Hvat er þat flagða, er ek sá á fornu nesi? Er ek hefik litit önga eina leiðiligri at uppiverandi sólu.
‘What kind of ogress is that, whom I saw on the ancient headland? I have seen not a single one more ugly while the sun is up.

notes and context

The stanza is introduced by the words: Ketill kvað vísu ‘Ketill spoke a stanza’.

This stanza has a close parallel in GrL 1: the hero addresses the giantess or troll-woman, describes her rocky environment and says she is the ugliest thing he has ever seen. In 343a and 340ˣ this stanza consists of two long-lines and a full-line without a caesura; in 471 the stanza is entirely in ljóðaháttr, since ll. 1-2 are followed by the additional line ok glottir við guma ‘and grins at the man’, i.e. ‘at me’. Previous eds have printed the stanza with this line. In other mss the stanza is entirely in fornyrðislag and the wording of ll. 3-8 is very different from that in 343a, 471 and 340ˣ (for a text, see Edd. Min. 80 n.). In these lines the giantess is not merely described as ‘ugly’; she is said to have ‘black eyes’. On the ugliness of giants see Schulz (2004, 147-53).



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. 8. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Ketill hœngs saga V 1: AII, 282, BII, 303, Skald II, 160-1, NN §2391; FSN 2, 127, FSGJ 2, 169, Anderson 1990, 52, 98, 438; Edd. Min. 80.


Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.