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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (ÓT) 2I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta 2’ 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. 1084.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísur from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta
123

These two stanzas (Anon (ÓT) 2-3) are preserved only in ÓT ch. 212 (ÓT 1958-2000, II, 133-4), transmitted in 61, 53, 54, 62, Bb and Flat. The saga attributes them to an anonymous old man in a boat (nǫkkvi, hence nǫkkvamaðr ‘man in a boat’ in ÓT, and in Skj) whom Óláfr Tryggvason and his men encounter while on a missionary voyage in southern Norway. The nǫkkvamaðr speaks his stanzas in the course of a conversation with the king, at the end of which he capsizes his boat and disappears into the sea. The anecdote is typical of those in which the missionary king encounters and bests a representative of the pagan religion, usually Óðinn or Þórr. The nǫkkvamaðr lacks obvious divine attributes, but it is possible that he is a giant. Indications of this are the saga’s references to his superhuman size and strength; his calling himself the son of Harðráðr (see Note to Lv 2/6); and the fact that he rows for the cliffs when confronted by Óláfr (see Perkins 1999 on the association of supernatural beings with prominent landmarks on the Norwegian coast). Finnur Jónsson (LH I, 466) took the stanzas as authentic, dating them c. 998, but there is no sure internal evidence either way. Lv 2-3 are edited here by Kate Heslop.

Of fjarri stendr errinn
— ormr brunar døkkr at nǫkkva —
hôr með hyggju stóra
hlýri minn ok vinnur.
Ef værim hér hárir
Harðráðs synir báðir
— snákr skríðr, þars brim blíkir —
brœðr tveir, né þá flœðim.

Hôr errinn hlýri minn með stóra hyggju ok vinnur stendr of fjarri; døkkr ormr brunar at nǫkkva. Ef værim hér, báðir hárir synir Harðráðs, tveir brœðr, né flœðim þá; snákr skríðr, þars brim blíkir.

My tall, bold brother, with [his] great mind and achievements, stands too far off; the dark serpent rushes towards the boat. If we had been here, both the grey-haired sons of Harðráðr, two brothers, we would not have fled then; the snake glides where the surf glistens.

Mss: 61(53vb), 53(50vb), 54(43vb), Bb(79va), 62(43ra-b), Flat(52va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] errinn: œrinn 62    [2] ormr: orm 53, orms 54, Bb;    brunar: ‘brun’ 53, 54, Bb;    at: á 53, 54;    nǫkkva: nǫkkvi Flat    [3] hyggju: hrygginn 54, hryggum Bb, hygginn Flat;    stóra: stjóra Bb, 62, Flat    [4] vinnur: vinnr 62, vinnir Flat    [5] hárir: ‘hęrir’ Bb, ‘harrar’ 62, ‘harar’ Flat    [6] Harð‑: her‑ 62    [7] brim: ‘brun’ Bb, Flat;    blíkir: bleikir all others

Editions: Skj AI, 179-80, Skj BI, 169, Skald I, 91, NN §§1963, 1964, 2247B; Fms 2, 181, Fms 12, 51, SHI 2, 167-8, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 133 (ch. 212), Flat 1860-8, I, 396.

Context: (See Introduction above.) The wild-eyed nǫkkvamaðr ‘man in a boat’ rows away with superhuman speed toward some cliffs; with great effort King Óláfr and his men close the distance. The king addresses the nǫkkvamaðr and he replies in prose and then verse.

Notes: [1] stendr of fjarri ‘stands too far off’: Cf. Hfr ErfÓl 25/2. Of fjarri could be taken as either one word or two (cf. LP: offjarri, indicating doubt). — [2] døkkr : nǫkkva: The aðalhending is inexact if the two vowels have their etymological value. It is possible that the two sounds would have been sufficiently close for the rhyme to be acceptable if the stanza dates not from the C10th but from the C13th or later (cf. Note to SnSt Ht 73/2III), but definite conclusions cannot be built on this point. — [2] ormr ‘serpent’: Like snákr ‘snake’ in l. 7, this refers to Óláfr’s ship, perhaps specifically to the famous Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’, though if so ÓT cites the present stanza out of chronological sequence in ch. 212, as the Long Serpent is not built until ch. 223. These words meaning ‘snake’ may alternatively be ship-heiti, as, e.g., in ÞjóðA Har 1/4, 5II. On Ormr and poetic references to it, see Notes to Hfr ErfÓl 10/1, Hókr Eirfl 3/4. — [3] hôr ‘tall’: The syntactic parallelism between the two helmingar suggests this adj. should be construed with hlýri ‘brother’ in the main clause. It could alternatively be taken as qualifying ormr ‘serpent’ (i.e. ‘ship’), as in Skj B (rejected in NN §1963). — [5-8]: The conditional ef-clause precedes the main clause flœðim þá ‘we would not have fled then’. This situation is the most common exception to the normal ordering of skaldic helmingar, with main clause first (Kuhn 1983, 190-1). — [6] Harðráðs ‘of Harðráðr’: Attested elsewhere both as a nickname meaning ‘Hard-rule’, most famously of King Haraldr Sigurðarson, r. 1045-66, and as a proper name (Unger 1877, I, 661, though it is Latinized as Harderadus and the context is a translation of the vita of S. Maurus). Previous eds, with the exception of Fms, prefer 62’s Herráðs ‘of Herráðr’, but there is no reason to discard the majority reading. It is uncertain whether Harðráðr is a man or a giant, but the name resembles the giant-names Harðgreipr (Þul Jǫtna II 1/7III) and Harðverkr (Þul Jǫtna I 2/1III), and other circumstances might indicate a giant (see Introduction). — [7] blíkir ‘glistens’: Rhyme and metre require this otherwise unattested weak form, cf. the strong verb blíkja ‘gleam, glisten’. LP: 2. blíkja assumes a weak verb and takes this as an impersonal usage. The majority reading bleikir is also metrically suitable, and could be from adj. bleikr ‘pale’ or verb bleikja ‘to bleach’, but neither fits the context. — [8] tveir brœðr ‘two brothers’: The present edn agrees with Kock (Skald; NN §§1964, 2247B) in taking this in apposition to synir báðir ‘both sons’ in l. 6 as the joint subject of værim ‘were’ in l. 5. Skj B on the other hand takes it with flœðim ‘we would not have fled’. — [8] þá ‘then’: This could equally well be the m. acc. pl. pron. þá ‘them’, referring to Óláfr and his men.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Unger, C. R., ed. 1877. Heilagra manna søgur. Fortællinger og legender om hellige mænd og kvinder. 2 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Bentzen.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. 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.
  8. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  9. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1983. Das Dróttkvætt. Heidelberg: Winter.
  10. LH = Finnur Jónsson. 1920-4. Den oldnorske og oldislandske litteraturs historie. 3 vols. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Gad.
  11. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  12. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  13. Perkins, Richard. 1999. ‘The Gateway to Trondheim: Two Icelanders at Agdenes’. SBVS 25, 179-213.
  14. Internal references
  15. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ 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, pp. clxiii-clxvi.
  16. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Óláfr Tryggvason’ 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. 383.
  17. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Jǫtna heiti I 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 709.
  18. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Jǫtna heiti II 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 719.
  19. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta 2’ 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. 1084.
  20. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 10’ 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. 415.
  21. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 25’ 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. 436.
  22. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 3’ 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. 475.
  23. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 73’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1184.
  24. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr 1’ 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. 150-1.
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