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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bǫlv Hardr 5II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Bǫlverkr Arnórsson, Drápa about Haraldr harðráði 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 290-1.

Bǫlverkr ArnórssonDrápa about Haraldr harðráði

Rétt við rausn at hætta,
reiðmæltr jǫfurr, skeiðum,
prýddr (lá byrr at breiddu)
Blálands á vit (stáli).
Laust, en lauka reisti
lofðungr við sæ þungan,
skúr á skjaldrim dýra
skokks mjǫll á þrǫm stokkinn.

Prýddr, reiðmæltr jǫfurr, rétt at hætta skeiðum við rausn á vit Blálands; byrr lá at breiddu stáli. Skúr laust á dýra skjaldrim, {mjǫll skokks} á stokkinn þrǫm, en lofðungr reisti lauka við þungan sæ.

Splendid, angry-spoken prince, you risked the warships with splendour on a visit to North Africa; a favourable wind pressed against the spread-out prow. The rain-shower struck at the precious shield-rail, {the snow of the bottom-board} [SEA-SPRAY] [struck] at the splattered rim, and the ruler raised the masts in heavy sea.

Mss: H(22v), Hr(17rb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] Rétt: Ríttu Hr    [3] at: á Hr    [4] á: at Hr    [5] lauka: lokka Hr    [6] þungan: þunga Hr    [7] skjaldrim: skjǫldum Hr

Editions: Skj AI, 386, Skj BI, 356, Skald I, 178, NN §1142, 1793A, 3090; Fms 6, 140-1 (HSig ch. 5).

Context: After the campaign described in st. 4 above, Haraldr sailed on with his army in a great storm with heavy sea.

Notes: [All]: H-Hr is the only version to mention that Haraldr went on another campaign after having fought in North Africa. See also Þfisk Lv 2/6. — [2] skeiðum ‘the warships’: See Note to Valg Har 1/2. — [3, 4] at breiddu stáli ‘against the spread-out prow’: The ‘spread-out prow’ must refer to the frontal view of the ship’s broad bow (see Falk 1912, 36; Jesch 2001a, 150). Kock (NN §3090) suggested the emendation to brætt ‘tarred’. — [4] Bláland ‘North Africa’: Lit. ‘land of the dark people’. Usually denotes North Africa (or Ethiopia; see Fritzner: Bláland; Simek 1990a, 156-8, 202-3). In Heimslýsing ok helgifrœði (Hb 1892-6, 165), Bláland is used synonymously with ancient Mauretania (which comprised modern western Algeria and northern Morocco), and it would be more likely that Haraldr proceeded west along the coast of Africa rather than embarking on an expedition to the Red Sea (Ethiopia). See also Þfisk Lv 2/6, Sjórs Lv 3 and Hskv Útkv 1/7. — [5] laust (3rd pers. sg. pret. indic.) ‘struck’: The second helmingr is unusual in that the verb laust ‘struck’ functions as the predicate in two parallel constructions (skúr laustmjǫll skokks [laust] ‘the rain-shower struck … the snow of the bottom-board [struck]’; see NN §1142). Skj B suggests the reading skúr laust á dýra skjaldrim á þrǫm skokks stokkinn mjǫll ‘the wind struck against the precious shields, against the ship-side, splattered with foam’ which is impossible because mjǫll (f. ō-stem) cannot be a dat. form (mjǫllu; see ANG §376). — [7] skjaldrim ‘shield-rail’: A board mounted outside the top edge of the uppermost strake to hold the shields (see Falk 1912, 53-5; Jesch 2001a, 141). — [8] skokks ‘of the bottom-board’: For this translation, see Note to st. 4/8 above.


  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. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  7. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  8. Falk, Hjalmar. 1912. Altnordisches Seewesen. Wörter und Sachen 4. Heidelberg: Winter.
  9. 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.
  10. Hb 1892-6 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1892-6. Hauksbók udgiven efter de Arnamagnæanske håndskrifter no. 371, 544 og 675, 4° samt forskellige papirshåndskrifter. Copenhagen: Det kongelige nordiske oldskrift-selskab.
  11. Simek, Rudolf. 1990a. Altnordische Kosmographie: Studien und Quellen zu Weltbild und Weltbeschreibung in Norwegen und Island vom 12. bis zum 14. Jahrhundert. Ergänzungsbände zum RGA 4. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  12. Internal references
  13. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Hulda and Hrokkinskinna (H-Hr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  14. Not published: do not cite (HSigII)
  15. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Þorgils fiskimaðr, Lausavísur 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 334-5.
  16. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Valgarðr á Velli, Poem about Haraldr harðráði 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 300-1.

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