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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (Vǫls) 2VIII (Vǫls 22)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Vǫlsunga saga 22 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Vǫlsunga saga 2)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 793.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísur from Vǫlsunga saga

text and translation

Eldr nam at æsaz         en jörð at skjálfa
ok hár logi         við himni gnæfa.
Fár treystiz þar         fylkis rekka
eld at ríða         né yfir stíga.

Eldr nam at æsaz en jörð at skjálfa ok hár logi gnæfa við himni. Fár rekka fylkis treystiz þar at ríða eld né stíga yfir.
‘Fire raged and earth shook and the tall flame rose up to the sky. Few of the warriors of the prince there dared to ride through the fire nor step across it.

notes and context

This stanza tells how the heroes Gunnarr and Sigurðr attempt to reach the former valkyrie Brynhildr through a barrier of flames surrounding her hall in order to woo her. Gunnarr first tries to ride through the flames on Sigurðr’s horse, Grani, but the horse refuses. Sigurðr then exchanges shapes with Gunnarr, rides successfully through the flames, and woos Brynhildr in the guise of Gunnarr, having apparently forgotten, due to the influence of a magical potion, that he had become betrothed to her previously in his own person. Stanzas 2 and 3 describe the power of the flames and Sigurðr’s successful penetration of them riding Grani. Stanza 2 is introduced with the words svá er kveðit ‘so it is told’.

Although the poem from which Vǫls 2 and 3 come is not known, it must have described the wooing of Brynhildr and Sigurðr’s successful penetration of the barrier of flames surrounding her hall, with its complicated consequences. Chapter 29 of Vǫls comes within that section of the saga (chs 24-31) that corresponds to the poetry that must have been in a large lacuna in the Codex Regius ms. between the end of Sigrdr and the beginning of Brot. — [1-4]: These lines are reminiscent of other poetic descriptions of cosmic disturbances caused by the movements of gods or heroes; cf. Þry 21/5-8, Þjóð Haustl 15III.



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

FSN I, 185, Vǫls 1906-8, 67, FSGJ I, 176, Vǫls 1965, 49 (Vǫls ch. 29); NK 322, ÍF Edd. II, 322.


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