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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjbp Jóms 33I

Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 33’ 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. 988.

Bjarni byskup KolbeinssonJómsvíkingadrápa

Þar var þǫrfum meiri
þrekfǫrluðum jarli
(braut, hykk, hann at heldi)
hugraun (flota sínum).
Snara bað segl við húna
Sigvaldi í byr kǫldum;
gnúði hǫrð á hlýrum
hríð; fell byrr í váðir.

Þar var þrekfǫrluðum jarli þǫrfum meiri hugraun; hykk, at hann heldi flota sínum braut. Sigvaldi bað snara segl við húna í kǫldum byr; hǫrð hríð gnúði á hlýrum; byrr fell í váðir.

There for the strength-failing jarl it was a trial of courage greater than needed; I think that he directed his fleet away. Sigvaldi bade the sails be quickly hoisted to the mast-tops in the cold wind; the harsh storm roared against the bows; the wind blew on the sails.

Mss: R(54r); 61(20ra), 53(16va), 54(16va), Bb(26vb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Þar: þá all others;    þǫrfum: ‘þorf hin’ 53;    meiri: meirr 54, meir Bb    [2] ‑fǫrluðum: ‑lundum 53, ‘‑lundudvm’ 54, ‘lyndodum’ Bb    [3] hykk: frá ek all others;    at: er Bb    [4] hug‑: haug‑ 54;    sínum: so all others, ‘[…]’ R    [6] í: om. all others;    kǫldum: kǫldu 61    [7] gnúði hǫrð á hlýrum: glumði hrǫnn á húfum all others    [8] byrr í: í bug all others;    váðir: váða all others, ‘v[…]’ R

Editions: Skj AII, 7-8, Skj BII, 7-8, Skald II, 5; Fms 11, 172, Fms 12, 246, Jvs 1879, 114-15; Fms 1, 176, Fms 12, 44, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 193 (ch. 90), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 29, 81.

Context: Sigvaldi jarl makes to retreat with his ship but Vagn Ákason challenges him and throws a spear at him, hitting the helmsman by mistake; Sigvaldi manages to get away with some of his ships.

Notes: [1] þar ‘there’: The reading of R, the main ms. in this edn. Þá ‘then’ in the ÓT mss works as well or slightly better in terms of the poem’s narrative progress and is adopted in Fms 1, 176, Skj B and Skald. — [1] þǫrfum meiri ‘greater than needed’: Lit. ‘greater than needs’. — [2] þrekfǫrluðum jarli ‘for the strength-failing jarl’: Sigvaldi, as is made clear in l. 6. The second element of this hap. leg. is the p. p. of fǫrla ‘grow weak, fail’ (CVC: förla); cf. Máni Lv 5/3III kraptr þinn fǫrlask ‘your strength is waning’. The variant þreklynduðum ‘strong-’ or ‘courageous-minded’ does not provide skothending, and R’s reading is the lectio difficilior and more precisely apt in context. — [3] hykk ‘I think’: The ÓT reading frák ‘I have heard’ is equally possible. — [5] snara ‘be quickly hoisted’: Snara is ‘to move or turn quickly’ (LP: snara); here sails are hoisted to the mast-tops. — [5] við húna ‘to the mast-tops’: Húnn m. is strictly the block or knob at the top of the mast, often quadrilateral in shape, through which the halyards passed (Jesch 2001a, 160-1). — [6] Sigvaldi í byr kǫldum ‘Sigvaldi ... in the cold wind’: The line is metrically irregular, with elision of Sigvaldi í. — [7-8]: The ÓT readings differ significantly, and are also satisfactory, giving glumði hrǫnn á húfum; | hríð fell í bug váða ‘the wave resounded against hulls; the storm blew into the curve of the sails’; these are adopted in Skj B and Skald. For váð ‘cloth’ in the sense ‘sail’ see LP: vôð 4.


  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. 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. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  7. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  8. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  9. Jvs 1879 = Petersens, Carl af, ed. 1879. Jómsvíkinga saga (efter Cod. AM. 510, 4:to) samt Jómsvíkinga drápa. Lund: Gleerup.
  10. Ólafur Halldórsson. 2000. Danish Kings and the Jomsvikings in the Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason. London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  11. Internal references
  12. 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.
  13. Matthew Townend 2012, ‘(Biography of) Vagn Ákason’ 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. 365.
  14. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Máni, Lausavísa 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 290.

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