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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjbp Jóms 6I

Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 6’ 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. 964.

Bjarni byskup KolbeinssonJómsvíkingadrápa

… vér sitja
(seima Guðr) at Jómi
(fǫgr rænir mik flaumi)
fimm hǫfðingja snemma.
Vel samir víst at telja
vinnur hreystimanna;
þar er of málmþings meiða
merkiliga at yrkja.

… vér … fimm hǫfðingja sitja snemma at Jómi; {fǫgr Guðr seima} rænir mik flaumi. Víst samir vel at telja vinnur hreystimanna; þar er at yrkja of {merkiliga meiða {málmþings}}.

We [I] … five chieftains once sat at Jómsborg; {the beautiful Guðr <valkyrie> of gold} [WOMAN] robs me of happiness. Certainly it is very fitting to recount the deeds of courageous men; in this case it is a matter of composing about {notable poles {of the weapon-assembly}} [BATTLE > WARRIORS].

Mss: R(53v)

Readings: [1] …: ‘S(v)[…]gv’(?) RCP, ‘S(v)[…]gvm’(?) RFJ;    sitja: ‘[…]’ R, sitja RCP, RFJ

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

Notes: [1] vér sitja ‘we … sat’: The inf. sitja ‘sat’, lit. ‘to sit, sitting’ (the reading of Finnur Jónsson and af Petersens) would form an acc. with inf. construction with acc. pl. hǫfðingja ‘chieftains’, and would suggest that a verb of hearing or learning in the pret. tense is missing; cf. st. 7/1, 2 frák Harald heyja ‘I have heard that Haraldr fought (lit. ‘I have heard Haraldr to fight)’. Frágu/frágum ‘we have heard’ is accordingly supplied in Jvs 1879, 107, followed by CPB II, 303, Skj B and Skald. The same eds have also supplied the adv. suðr ‘south’ as the first word of l. 1, aptly referring to the location of Jómsborg on the Baltic coast. These editorial conjectures are acceptable metrically: suðr alliterates with sitja in l. 1 and seima ‘of gold’ in l. 2, and the phrase suðr frágu/frágum brings the syllable count in l. 1 up to the required six syllables; the munnvǫrp metre does not require hending in odd lines. — [2] Guðr seima ‘Guðr <valkyrie> of gold [WOMAN]’: Guðr/Gunnr is fairly common in woman-kennings (Meissner 406), but in the use of this valkyrie-name, the two thematic elements of the stanza and the poem as a whole, battle and women, are appropriately conjoined. Seima (gen. pl.) is perhaps strictly ‘of gold threads’ (cf. LP: seimr). — [2] at Jómi ‘at Jómsborg’: ON Jóm or Jómsborg is identified with present-day Wolin, set on an island at the mouth of the Oder on the Baltic coast. See Jvs 1969, 28-51 on Jómsborg and the Jómsvíkingar; also Note to st. 17/4 below. — [4] snemma ‘once’: So also Skj B and LP: snimma 3. The adv. could alternatively be construed with the intercalary clause about the poet’s unhappy experience in love, perhaps with its more common sense ‘early (in the day)’. — [7, 8] þar er at yrkja ‘in this case it is a matter of composing’: Lit. ‘there it is to compose’, but there is no clear reference to place, and þar frequently refers to abstract circumstances (Fritzner, LP: þar 2). — [8]: The line is metrically irregular: it appears that resolution does not operate in -liga, but elision operates in -a at.


  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  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. 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.
  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. Jvs 1879 = Petersens, Carl af, ed. 1879. Jómsvíkinga saga (efter Cod. AM. 510, 4:to) samt Jómsvíkinga drápa. Lund: Gleerup.
  10. Jvs 1969 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1969a. Jómsvíkinga saga. AM 291 4to. Reykjavík: Prentsmiðja Jóns Helgasonar HF.

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