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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Framarr Lv 1VIII (Ket 34)

Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 34 (Framarr víkingakonungr, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 587.

Framarr víkingakonungrLausavísur


Stanzas 34-41 (Framarr Lv 1-4, Keth Lv 20-3) are all spoken at the combat between Ketill and Framarr (Ket ch. 5, FSGJ 2, 177-81). The metre is fornyrðislag (or málaháttr) and the stanzas, especially Ket 34-5, are distinguished by a stark dramatic quality and by including several kennings.

On the first day of Yule Bǫðmóðr and his men accompany Ketill to the mound where Ketill is to engage in single combat with Framarr. Bǫðmóðr holds a shield to protect Ketill and tells his father Framarr that he no longer regards him as a relative, since Framarr practises magic. Immediately before the combat begins an eagle flies out of the forest and tears Framarr’s clothes off him.

text and translation

Illr er örn í sinni;         emka sárr at kvíða;
færir hann sínar greipar         gular í blóðæðar mínar.
Hlakkar hreggskornir;         hvers er hann forkunnigr?
Opt hefi ek ara gladdan;         góðr em ek valgöglum.

Örn er illr í sinni; emka sárr at kvíða; hann færir gular greipar sínar í blóðæðar mínar. Hreggskornir hlakkar; hvers er hann forkunnigr? Ek hefi opt gladdan ara; ek em góðr {valgöglum}.
‘The eagle is evil in company; I am not wounded so that I am afraid; he thrusts his yellow claws into my blood vessels. The storm-cleaver <eagle> screams; about what is he prescient? I have often gladdened the eagle; I am good to corpse-geese [RAVENS/EAGLES].

notes and context

This stanza is introduced by the words: Þá kvað Framarr vísu ‘Then Framarr spoke a stanza’.

The stanza is dramatic and menacing. The drastic description of the eagle’s behaviour has parallels in skaldic poetry (see Jesch 2002b, 252, 254-5, 264-5). Lines 3-6 suggest that the eagle is tearing at Framarr as if he were already a corpse on the battlefield because he knows that Framarr will be killed by Ketill. — [7-8]: These two lines are conventional circumlocutions for ‘I have done battle’ and refer to the corpses of warriors killed by the victor in battle and upon which birds of prey (eagles and ravens) feed (Jesch 2001a, 248; Jesch 2002b, 254-6).



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 VII 1: AII, 285-6, BII, 307, Skald II, 162, NN §§1480, 2395, 3196FSN 2, 136, FSGJ 2, 178, Anderson 1990, 58, 106, 442; Edd. Min. 83.


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