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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjbp Jóms 4I

Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 4’ 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. 962.

Bjarni byskup KolbeinssonJómsvíkingadrápa

Varkak … und forsum;
fórk aldrigi at gǫldrum;

Ǫllungis namk eigi
Yggjar feng und hanga

fleinstríðir mér óðar.

Varkak … und forsum; fórk aldrigi at gǫldrum; hefkak … . Namk ǫllungis eigi {feng Yggjar} und hanga … {fleinstríðir} mér óðar.

I was not … under waterfalls; I never engaged in enchantments; I have not … . I did not at all learn {the booty of Yggr <= Óðinn>} [POETRY] under the hanged one … {arrow-harmer} [WARRIOR] … to me … of the poem …

Mss: R(53r), 65ˣ(380r) (ll. 1-2)

Readings: [1] …: fyrir 65ˣ, ‘f[…](r)’(?) RCP, ‘(froðr)’(?) RFJ    [3] hefkak: ‘[…]’ R, hefka ek RCP, RFJ;    …: ‘[…] (r)ag(nar)[…]’(?) RCP    [4] …: ‘(i)orð i geg(num)’(?) RCP, ‘[…]iorð igeg[…]’ RFJ    [5] Ǫllungis namk eigi: ‘[…]’ R, Ǫllungis nam ek eigi RCP, RFJ    [6] Yggjar feng und hanga: ‘[…]’ R, Yggjar feng und hanga RCP, RFJ    [7] …: ‘þo […] fw (at) […](y)’(?) or ‘þa […] fw (at) […](y)(?)’ RCP, ‘þa it fwor ‘þeira it fw’ RFJ    [8] fleinstríðir mér óðar: ‘[…]’ R, ‘(fleinstriþir mer oþar)’(?) RCP, RFJ

Editions: Skj AII, 2, Skj BII, 1, Skald II, 1; Fms 11, 164, Fms 12, 242, Jvs 1879, 104-5.

Notes: [All]: On the ordering of sts 2-5, see Introduction. Ms. 65ˣ (ll. 1-2 only) and the printed texts RCP and RFJ are used as supplementary witnesses to the R readings here; again see Introduction. Finnur Jónsson (RFJ, in Skj A II, 2) acknowledges relying on the RCP (af Petersens, in Jvs 1879) readings for this stanza, but has made out enough to believe them correct. From what can be ascertained from the poorly-preserved text, it seems that the poet continues his caricature of the opening of a traditional drápa (see Note to ll. 1-2 below). — [1-2]: The skald (who became a bishop, if the identification with Bjarni Kolbeinsson is correct), seems to distance himself from the traditional association of poetry with Óðinn and hence with magic. Although certainty is impossible given the state of the text, this would be supported by ll. 5-6 as read by Finnur Jónsson and af Petersens. — [1] : Finnur Jónsson in Skj A reads the missing word as fróðr ‘wise, learned’ (so also CPB II, 302), noting that the reading is utydeligt, men vistnok sikkert ‘unclear, but doubtless secure’; Jvs 1879 has ‘f….’ in the diplomatic text with ‘f…r’ in a footnote, and fróðr in the normalised text. Fms 11 has firri, which is glossed in Fms 12 as fjærri ‘farther’. — [2] fórk aldrigi at gǫldrum ‘I never engaged in enchantments’: Aldrigi ‘never’ is abbreviated in the ms. Expanding to aldrigi produces a metrically regular Type D-line, with elision in position 4, whereas the shorter alternative aldri would be irregular (cf. LP: aldrigi, aldri). — [5-6]: These lines are now illegible, but the RCP and RFJ readings above suggest that they refer to the myth of the mead of poetry (cf. Note to st. 1/6), again alluding to, yet rejecting, the association of poetry with Óðinn. Hangi can refer either to a hanged man or to Óðinn (LP: hangi), and the god is said both to have sat under hanged men (Yng, ÍF 26, 18) and to have hanged himself on a tree (Hávm 138-41); see also Haugen (1983); Schjødt (1993); Lassen (2010, 190-1). — [8] fleinstríðir mér óðar ‘arrow-harmer [WARRIOR] ... to me ... of the poem’: Fleinstríðir ‘arrow-harmer’ appears to be a warrior-kenning, perhaps referring to the skald, while mér is dat. sg. ‘to/for me’ and óðar is gen. sg. of óðr ‘poem’; but since l. 7 is illegible, and was virtually so even in the C19th, l. 8 cannot be construed.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. 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.
  6. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  7. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  8. Jvs 1879 = Petersens, Carl af, ed. 1879. Jómsvíkinga saga (efter Cod. AM. 510, 4:to) samt Jómsvíkinga drápa. Lund: Gleerup.
  9. Haugen, Einar. 1983. ‘The Edda as Ritual: Odin and his Masks’. In Glendinning et al. 1983, 3-24.
  10. Schjødt, Jens Peter. 1993. ‘The Relation between the Two Phenomenological Categories Initiation and Sacrifice as Exemplified by the Norse Myth of Óðinn on the Tree’. In Ahlbäck 1993, 261-74.
  11. Internal references
  12. Not published: do not cite (YngII)
  13. Not published: do not cite ()

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