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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjbp Jóms 5I

Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 5’ 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. 963.

Bjarni byskup KolbeinssonJómsvíkingadrápa

annat þarf at yrkja
allstórum mun fleira.

… greppr of snertu
(þat berum upp fyr ýta)
óhljóð (sǫgukvæði).

… þarf at yrkja annat, allstórum mun fleira … . Greppr … of óhljóð snertu; berum upp þat sǫgukvæði fyr ýta.

… need to compose something other, more by a very great amount … . The poet … about the tumult of onslaught; we [I] shall present that narrative poem before men.

Mss: R(53v)

Readings: [8] ‑kvæði: ‘qv[…]’ R, ‘qv[…]þi’ RCP, RFJ

Editions: Skj AII, 2, Skj BII, 2, Skald II, 1, NN §2161; Fms 11, 164, Fms 12, 242, Jvs 1879, 106-7.

Notes: [All]: On the ordering of sts 2-5, see Introduction. Given the poor state of preservation of the text, any interpretation is extremely tentative. However, the poet seems to return here to the principal subject of his poem: that of war. — [3-4]: The lines are here assumed to belong together syntactically, though with the caveat mentioned above. Þarf ‘need’ can only be a verb, and therefore mun is best taken not as the verb ‘will’ but as dat. sg. of munr m. ‘difference’, here ‘amount’ (so LP: munr). — [6] : The conjectured orti ‘composed’ is supplied before greppr ‘poet’ in the normalised text of Jvs 1879, and in Skald. — [7] fyr ýta ‘before men’: A reference to the audience that runs somewhat counter to st. 1 (see Note to st. 1 [All]). — [8] sǫgukvæði ‘narrative poem’: The meaning of this hap. leg. depends largely on which sense of sǫgu (nom. sg. saga f.) is relevant, out of the possible range of ‘something spoken, a story, narrative, history’ (cf. CVC, Fritzner: saga; AEW: saga 1; also Meulengracht Sørensen 1993a, 33-6, 50-1). LP glosses sǫgukvæði as historisk dikt ‘historical poem’ but Lindow (1982, 110) comments that Bjarni’s use of the term ‘has much to say about skaldic narrative [...] indicat[ing] the possibility of a skaldic poem intended not for ornament, praise, or lyric, but to tell a story’; see Introduction for further discussion of Bjarni’s intentions in composing Jóms.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  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. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  9. Lindow, John. 1982. ‘Narrative and the Nature of Skaldic Poetry’. ANF 97, 94-121.
  10. Jvs 1879 = Petersens, Carl af, ed. 1879. Jómsvíkinga saga (efter Cod. AM. 510, 4:to) samt Jómsvíkinga drápa. Lund: Gleerup.
  11. Meulengracht Sørensen, Preben. 1993a. Fortælling og ære. Studier i islændingesagaerne. Århus: Århus universitetsforlag.
  12. Internal references
  13. Emily Lethbridge 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa’ 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. 954.

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