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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Liðs 8I

[1, 4] ekkja, sús býr í steini, mun líta út ‘the widow who lives in stone will look out’: De Vries (1964-7, I, 282) found the motif of the woman watching the fighting men from her window suspect, as suggestive of later romance tournaments, but Sigv Austv 12 and ÞjóðA Har 2II, datable to around c. 1019 and c. 1062 respectively, are very similar and Sigvatr is probably borrowing from the present stanza (Hofmann 1955, 83; Poole 1987, 284). The statement that the ekkja lives ‘in stone’ locates her in stone-walled London (cf. the corresponding reference to Ulfcytel in st. 6/7-8). The word ekkja strictly means ‘widow’ (AEW: ekkja 1), though in poetry it can have the extended meaning of ‘woman’ in general (LP: ekkja 2). The most prominent widow in England at this period would have been Æthelred’s queen Emma (Stafford 1978, 36) and since Knútr later married her she could with considerable relevance be associated with him in the present stanza (Poole 1987, 290). Alternatively, this could be an example of the generic woman whose role in skaldic poetry is to admire (or suffer from) masculine triumphs (cf. Fidjestøl 1976a; Frank 1990a).


  1. Bibliography
  2. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  3. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  4. Frank, Roberta. 1990a. ‘Why Skalds Address Women’. In Pàroli 1990, 67-83.
  5. Vries, Jan de. 1964-7. Altnordische Literaturgeschichte. 2 vols. 2nd edn. Grundriss der germanischen Philologie 15-16. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  6. Hofmann, Dietrich. 1955. Nordisch-englische Lehnbeziehungen der Wikingerzeit. BA 14. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  7. Poole, Russell. 1987. ‘Skaldic Verse and Anglo-Saxon History: Some Aspects of the Period 1009-1016’. Speculum 62, 265-98.
  8. Fidjestøl, Bjarne. 1976a. ‘Ut no glytter dei fagre droser: Om kvinnesynet i norrøn litteratur’. SoS 82, 464-72. Rpt. as ‘“Out They Will Look, the Lovely Ladies”: Views of Women in Norse Literature’. In Fidjestøl 1997a, 333-42.
  9. Stafford, Pauline. 1978. ‘The Reign of Æthelred II: A Study in the Limitations on Royal Policy and Action’. In Hill 1978, 15-46.
  10. Internal references
  11. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Austrfararvísur 12’ 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. 600.
  12. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr 2’ 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. 151-2.


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