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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ǫlvǫr Lv 1VIII (Ǫrv 4)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 4 (Ǫlvǫr, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 813.



This stanza, in the háttlausa ‘formless’ variant of dróttkvætt, occurs in the mss of Ǫrv as the first of a pair, with the second stanza recorded both immediately after it and also as ǪrvOdd (Ævdr) 41 (Ǫrv 111) (q. v.). According to the saga Oddr and his companions are harrying in Ireland. During the course of these adventures, in which Oddr’s foster-brother Ásmundr is killed (cf. ǪrvOdd Ævdr 38 (Ǫrv 108)), Oddr meets a beautiful woman, Ǫlvǫr, who offers to make him a magic silken shirt with life-protecting properties, which would be ready for him a year after their first encounter. She offers this to stop him attacking members of her family, who have killed Ásmundr. Oddr returns to Ireland the following summer to receive the shirt and invites her to marry him as a reward.

text and translation

Serk um frák ór silki
í sex stöðum görvan;
ermr á Íralandi
önnur norðr með Finnum.
Slógu Saxa meyjar,
en suðreyskar spunnu;
váfu valskar drósir;
varp Óþjóðans móðir.

Um frák serk ór silki görvan í sex stöðum; ermr á Íralandi, önnur norðr með Finnum. Saxa meyjar slógu, en suðreyskar spunnu; valskar drósir váfu; móðir Óþjóðans varp.
‘I have heard of a silken shirt made in six places; a sleeve in Ireland, another north among the Saami. Maidens of the Saxons struck [the weft], and Hebrideans spun; southern women wove; Óþjóðann’s mother cast [the warp].

notes and context

Oddr asks Ǫlvǫr whether she made the magic shirt all by herself, and this lausavísa is her response.

Uniquely in Ǫrv, this stanza is in the metre háttlausa ‘formless’ (cf. SnSt Ht 67III), a variant of dróttkvætt lacking internal rhyme. For this reason, some eds (Ǫrv 1892, 39 n. 15 and 42 n. 23) have doubted whether it originally belonged in Ǫrv.



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. 10. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Ǫrvar-Oddssaga II: AII, 290, BII, 311, Skald II, 165; Ǫrv 1888, 81, Ǫrv 1892, 42-3, FSGJ 2, 242-3.


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