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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Keth Lv 20VIII (Ket 36)

Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 36 (Ketill hœngr, Lausavísur 20)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 590.

Ketill hœngrLausavísur

text and translation

Dregz þú nú, Dragvendill,         við krás arnar;
mætir þú meingöldrum;         máttir þú eigi bíta.
Mik þess eigi varði,         at hrøkkva mundi
eggjar eitrherðar,         þótt Óðinn deyfði.

Þú dregz nú, Dragvendill, við {krás arnar}; þú mætir meingöldrum; þú máttir eigi bíta. Mik varði þess eigi, at eitrherðar eggjar mundi hrøkkva, þótt Óðinn deyfði.
‘You are drawn now, Dragvendill <sword>, for the delicacies of the eagle [CORPSES]; you meet harmful spells; you are unable to bite. It did not occur to me that poison-hardened edges would give way, although Óðinn blunted [them].

notes and context

The single combat now commences. Ketill’s first two strikes at Framarr’s shoulders do not wound him, and Ketill addresses his sword Dragvendill in this and the following stanza. In the saga this stanza is introduced by the words: Ketill kvað vísu ‘Ketill spoke a stanza’.

[1-2]: Since l. 2 contains no word that alliterates with any word in l. 1, some eds have introduced or suggested emendations to provide l. 2 with a word beginning with <d> to alliterate with dregz and Dragvendill. They also differ in their interpretation of the meaning of the lines: Skj B emends to Dregsk nú Dragvendill, | deila krás arnar ‘Fly now, Dragvendill, to strike apart the delicacies of the eagle’; Edd. Min. 84 n. suggests Dregsk þú nú, Dragvendill, | við drífu járna ‘You draw back, Dragvendill, from the storm of swords’, but does not print this in the main text; Skald has Dregsk nú, Dragvendill, | við dagkrás arnar ‘You are drawn now, Dragvendill, for the breakfast [lit. ‘day-delicacy’] of the eagle’ (cf. NN §2397). Kock is surely correct in his interpretation of dregz as a reference to the drawing of the sword Dragvendill from its scabbard, but there is no need to emend the line, which makes perfect sense, despite the lack of an alliterating word in l. 2.



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 3: AII, 286, BII, 307, Skald II, 163, NN §2397; FSN 2, 137, FSGJ 2, 178-9, Anderson 1990, 58, 107; Edd. Min. 84.


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