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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bersi Lv 1I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Bersi Skáld-Torfuson, Lausavísa 1’ 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. 796.

Bersi Skáld-TorfusonLausavísa1

text and translation

Sverð standa þar — sunda
sárs leyfum vér árar —
— herstillis verðr hylli
hollust — búin golli.
Við tœka ek, — víka,
vask endr með þér, sendir
elds — ef eitthvert vildir,
allvaldr, gefa skaldi.

Sverð standa þar búin golli; vér leyfum {árar {sunda sárs}}; hylli {herstillis} verðr hollust. Ek tœka við, ef vildir, allvaldr, gefa skaldi eitthvert; vask endr með þér, {sendir {elds víka}}.
‘Swords stand there decorated with gold; we [I] praise the oars of the bays of the wound [BLOOD > SWORDS]; the favour of the army-commander [RULER] becomes most gracious. I would accept, if you wished, mighty ruler, to give the skald [Bersi] something; I was with you formerly, distributor of the fire of inlets [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN].

notes and context

As noted above, the stanza is attributed to three different skalds. In ÓH-Hkr, Sigvatr is with King Óláfr when he visits the store of treasures he has assembled as Christmas gifts. Among these is a gold-decorated sword, which elicits the stanza from Sigvatr. The king gives him the sword, which becomes a source of envy. In ÓHÆ and ÓHLeg, a brief narrative explains that Óttarr uttered the stanza one day when present with King Óláfr in an upper room where there were many swords, hilts uppermost. After the stanza the king obliges with the gift of ‘the sword’ (suærðet). In Articulus 13 from Styrmir Kárason, interpolated into Flat (1860-8, III, 244), Bersi Skáld-Torfuson, ‘a good poet’, is slandered by others, who claim that he could not compose or recite anything not already recited. The king has a small room prepared with unsheathed swords and calls for Bersi, commissioning him to compose about the fact that the swords are upright (uppreist). Bersi does, and is given a fine sword.



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.

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