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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to KormǪ Sigdr 4III

[4] Urðr komsk at brunni ‘Urðr <norn> went to the well’: The mss offer two variants of this clause: komsk uðr ór brunni ‘the wave came from the well’ (R, , A) and komsk Urðr at brunni ‘Urðr went to the well’ (W). Previous eds have combined the mss variants in an arbitrary way (ór from R, , A and Urðr from W). As mythical figures always appear in the stælt-lines of this poem, Urðr is the preferred variant. The context shows that Urðr in this stanza is undoubtedly the name of a mythical being, just as in Vsp 20/5, Anon (HSig) 7/5-8II and Gylf (SnE 2005, 18), and not the noun urðr ‘(deadly) fate’ (see Þjóð Yt 20/9I, Þskakk Erldr 3/1II, Anon (Stu) 36/5IV, Guðr I 24/5 and Sigsk 5/8). Since there is no evidence in other sources that this norn lived in the well or came out of it, there is no reason to combine the two variants. Therefore this edn opts for W. In Vsp and Gylf (loc. cit.), Urðr is associated with brunnr Urðar ‘well of Urðr’, and here it cannot be established with certainty whether the gen. urðar means ‘fate’ or it is the name of the norn (on this see Weber 1969, 149-54). From this well of Urðr, according to Gylf, norns scoop water to irrigate the world-tree Yggdrasill (cf. Vsp 19/3-4). The well is beneath one of the three roots of the tree (cf. Vsp 19/7-8). According to Gylf, the dómstaðr ‘court’ of the Æsir, to which they ride daily, is also located there (Gylf, SnE 2005, 17). A similar juridical function can be inferred from Hávm 111/1-3 (NK 34): Mál er at þylia | þular stóli á | Urðar brunni at ‘It is time to recite | on the speaker’s seat | by the brunnr Urðar’. Although there are different interpretations of the Hávm passage, the well of Urðr is clearly assigned a central role in public juridical speaking. A comparable instance is found in Eilífr Goðrúnarson’s fragment (Eil Frag), where Christ is said to have taken control of the lands of the heathen gods and to reside in the south, at the well of Urðr. Thus if Urðr, as expressed in this stál, came to the well, then it would be to make a proclamation of fate. This, in turn, can be associated with the present stanza: in the ruler’s struggle, the fate determined for him – victory – is revealed in the words of the norn Urðr at the well of Urðr (cf. Marold 1990a, 113, 118).

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  3. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  4. Marold, Edith. 1990a. ‘Skaldendichtung und Mythologie’. In Pàroli 1990, 107-30.
  5. Weber, Gerd Wolfgang. 1969. Wyrd: Studien zum Schicksalsbegriff der altenglischen und altnordischen Literatur. Frankfurter Beiträge zur Germanistik 8. Bad Homburg v.d.H.: Gehlen.
  6. Internal references
  7. Not published: do not cite (GylfIII)
  8. Not published: do not cite ()
  9. Jana Krüger, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Fragment’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 126.
  10. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Haralds saga Sigurðarsonar 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 820-1.
  11. Not published: do not cite (Anon (Stu) 36IV)
  12. Not published: do not cite ()
  13. Not published: do not cite ()
  14. Not published: do not cite ()
  15. Not published: do not cite ()
  16. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 20’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 44.
  17. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Þorbjǫrn skakkaskáld, Erlingsdrápa 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 635.

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