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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorm Lv 21I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 21’ 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. 834.

Þormóðr KolbrúnarskáldLausavísur
20x2122x

Á sér, at vér vôrum
vígreifr með Ôleifi;
sár fekk’k, Hildr, at hvôru,
hvítings, ok frið lítinn.
Skínn á skildi mínum;
skald fekk hríð til kalda;
nær hafa eskiaskar
ǫrvendan mik gǫrvan.

Á sér, at vér vôrum, vígreifr, með Ôleifi; {Hildr hvítings}, fekk’k at hvôru sár ok lítinn frið. Skínn á skildi mínum; skald fekk til kalda hríð; {eskiaskar} hafa gǫrvan mik nær ǫrvendan.

It can be seen that we were [I was], war-happy, with Óláfr; {Hildr <valkyrie> of the bright drinking-horn} [WOMAN], I got, at all events, a wound and little peace. It shines on my shield; the skald got too cold a blizzard; {spear-ash-trees} [WARRIORS] have made me nearly left-handed.

Mss: Hb(89r-v), 142ˣ(104-105), 566aˣ(29r-v), papp4ˣ(129v), Flat(125vb) (Fbr); DG8(101v) (ÓHLeg); 761bˣ(489v)

Readings: [1] Á: þat papp4ˣ    [2] ‑reifr: ‑reifir 142ˣ, 566aˣ, papp4ˣ, Flat;    með: so all others, ‘m’ Hb    [3] Hildr: heldr all;    at hvôru: ‘enn hvoru’ 142ˣ, ‘en hvoru’ 566aˣ, 761bˣ, ‘atvaro’ DG8    [4] hvítings: hvít brúðr 142ˣ, 566aˣ, papp4ˣ, Flat, DG8, 761bˣ;    ok: enn 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 761bˣ    [5] Skínn: so Flat, ‘skin’ all others    [6] fekk: hlaut 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 761bˣ;    kalda: stríða 142ˣ, 761bˣ    [7] nær: nærr 566aˣ, 761bˣ;    eski‑: so 142ˣ, papp4ˣ, æski‑ Hb, 566aˣ, Flat, DG8, eski with æski in margin 761bˣ;    ‑askar: ærar DG8    [8] ǫrvendan: erendan 142ˣ, 566aˣ, ‘eyrendan’ Flat, órændan DG8, ‘errendan’ 761bˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 287, Skj BI, 265, Skald I, 136, NN §712; Hb 1892-6, 414, Fbr 1852, 110, Flat 1860-8, II, 363-4, Fbr 1925-7, 211-12, ÍF 6, 270 (ch. 24), Loth 1960a, 156 (ch. 17), ÍS II, 841-2, 848 (ch. 24); ÓHLeg 1849, 72, 120, ÓHLeg 1922, 87, ÓHLeg 1982, 200-1; Gaertner 1907, 312, 345-6, Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 74-5.

Context: After the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad), a woman binding wounds asks Þormóðr whether he is of the king’s party or the farmers’, and he replies.

Notes: [2] vígreifr ‘war-happy’: The adj. is here grouped with the clause in which it is embedded, since vér ‘we’ has sg. reference (so Gaertner 1907, 345; Kock, NN §712A; ÍF 6). Skj B construes this with the subject of the next clause, presumably because it is sg. The form in most Fbr mss is in fact pl. vígreifir. — [3, 4] Hildr hvítings ‘Hildr <valkyrie> of the bright drinking-horn [WOMAN]’: (a) Hvítings, the reading of Hb, appears to be correct, and accordingly it seems best to emend heldr to Hildr, as adopted in Skj B, which yields a well-paralleled kenning (cf. Meissner 406, 418). Indeed, scribal alteration of ‘hildr’ to ‘heldr’ is natural enough before at hvôru ‘at all events’. (b) Boer (1899a, 156-7) achieves a similar meaning by the more radical emendation of at vér ‘that we’ in l. 1 to Vôr, at, in which the goddess-name Vôr forms the base-word of a woman-kenning, used in direct address. (c) It is possible to retain ms. heldr ‘rather’ (so earlier Fbr 1852; Gaertner 1907) and to read, with all the mss but Hb, hvít brúðr ‘fair lady’ (vocative) for hvítings. This makes sense of the passage, but paleographically it is implausible. As Finnur Jónsson (1932-3) points out, it is difficult to see why a scribe in the ms. tradition of Hb should have changed hvít brúðr to hvítings, as this makes the meaning of the passage obscure if heldr is correct. (d) A further possibility avoiding emendation of heldr is to interpret hvítings as a sword rather than a drinking horn (both meanings are attested: see LP: hvítingr) and make it depend on sár, hence ‘sword-wound’ (so also Kock, NN §712B; ÍF 6). We can be fairly certain, though, that this was not the version known to the writer of Fbr, since he tells us that before he was pierced by an arrow, Þormóðr had received no wound (ÍF 6, 268; ÓHLeg (1982, 198) says æigi stor sar ‘not serious wounds’). — [5] skínn á skildi mínum ‘it shines on my shield’: Skínn in its normal sense gives ‘It shines on my shield’, i.e. ‘My shield shines’ (so Finnur Jónsson, Skj B; 1932-3). Contextually a more likely sense would be ‘You can see from the condition of my shield what a hard fight I had’ (so ÍF 6, n.), but skína is not recorded in the sense ‘show’. Note that it is remarked in Fbr that Þormóðr had no shield or mail-shirt in the battle (ÍF 6, 267); ÓHLeg (1982, 198) says that he gave away his shield shortly before the arrow struck him. — [6] hríð ‘blizzard’: The word can also refer to a phase or attack in a battle. — [7, 8] nær ǫrvendan ‘nearly left-handed’: No very satisfactory explanation has been devised for this expression. (a) Lines 7-8 seem to say that Þormóðr’s opponents in battle have nearly made him left-handed, this being the usual interpretation of ǫrvendr (e.g. LP), though according to Fbr (as confirmed by Þorm Lv 5V (Fbr 23)) he has been left-handed ever since his encounter with Kolbakr (see Þorm Lv 1V (Fbr 8), Context). Finnur Jónsson (Hb 1892-6, 414; Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 75) suggests that the meaning may be that the poet’s other (left) arm has been so wounded that it also has been rendered useless, though this is not how the author of Fbr understood it, since, as noted above, he says that Þormóðr was unwounded before the arrow struck him. A further possibility is that he means they have forced him to fight nearly as well with his left hand as if he had been born left-handed. There is, at all events, an odd degree of logic perceptible in this: Þormóðr’s complaint in the preceding clause is that his shield shows how hard he was pressed, and thus we can imagine the weariness of his right hand, in which he would have held the shield, since he has been forced since his encounter with Kolbakr to wield his sword with the left. The derivation of ǫrv- is disputed (see ÍO: örvhendur), but certainly it did not originally mean ‘left’, and probably the cpd instead simply denoted using the less dominant, weaker, or merely ‘other’ hand. If used in such an original sense here, the word is both appropriate (since Þormóðr’s favoured hand has for long been his left) and witty, referring to the opposite of the hand it usually refers to. (b) Sveinbjörn Egilsson in LP (1860): örvendr, followed by Gaertner (1907, 346), takes the clause to mean ‘they have nearly killed me’ (cf. CVC: örendr ‘dead, having breathed one’s last’).

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  6. 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.
  7. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  8. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  9. 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.
  10. ÓHLeg 1982 = Heinrichs, Anne et al., eds and trans. 1982. Olafs saga hins helga: Die ‘Legendarische Saga’ über Olaf den Heiligen (Hs. Delagard. saml. nr. 8II). Heidelberg: Winter.
  11. ÍO = Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon. 1989. Íslensk orðsifjabók. Reykjavík: Orðabók Háskólans.
  12. ÍF 6 = Vestfirðinga sǫgur. Ed. Björn K. Þórólfsson and Guðni Jónsson. 1943.
  13. Hb 1892-6 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1892-6. Hauksbók udgiven efter de Arnamagnæanske håndskrifter no. 371, 544 og 675, 4° samt forskellige papirshåndskrifter. Copenhagen: Det kongelige nordiske oldskrift-selskab.
  14. ÓHLeg 1922 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert, ed. 1922. Olafs saga hins helga efter pergamenthåndskrift i Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, Delagardieske samling nr. 8II. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 47. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  15. Gaertner, K. H. 1907. ‘Zur Fóstbrœðra saga. I. Teil: Die vísur’. BGDSL 32, 299-446.
  16. Loth, Agnete, ed. 1960a. Membrana regia deperdita. EA A 5. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  17. Fbr 1925-7 = Björn K. Þórólfsson, ed. 1925-7. Fóstbrœðra saga. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  18. Finnur Jónsson. 1932-3. ‘Þórmóðr Kolbrúnarskald’. APS 7, 31-82.
  19. Fbr 1852 = Konráð Gíslason, ed. 1852. Fóstbrœðra saga. Copenhagen: Berling.
  20. ÓHLeg 1849 = Keyser, R. and C. R. Unger. eds. 1849. Olafs saga hins helga: En kort saga om kong Olaf den Hellige fra anden halvdeel af det tolfte aarhundrede. Efter et gammelt pergaments-haandskrift i Universitets-bibliotheket i Upsala. Christiania (Oslo): Feilberg & Landmark.
  21. ÍS = Bragi Halldórsson et al., eds. 1987. Íslendinga sögur og þættir. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Svart á hvítu.
  22. Boer, R. C. 1899a. ‘Kritische und exegetische Bermerknungen zu Skaldenstrophen’. ZDP 31, 141-59.
  23. Internal references
  24. Not published: do not cite (FbrV)
  25. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Legendary Saga of S. Óláfr / Helgisaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar (ÓHLeg)’ 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. clxxiii.
  26. Not published: do not cite (Þorm Lv 1V (Fbr 8))
  27. Not published: do not cite (Þorm Lv 5V (Fbr 23))
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