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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Hardr II 2II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Haraldsdrápa II 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. 545-6.

Einarr SkúlasonHaraldsdrápa II

Luku vág viku,
vara kostr fara
brýns, Bjǫrgynjar,
braut háskrautum.

Luku vág Bjǫrgynjar viku; vara kostr brýns háskrautum fara braut.

They closed the bay of Bergen for a week; there was no possibility for the tall ships to speed away.

Mss: Mork(32r) (Mork); FskBˣ(92v), FskAˣ(366) (Fsk); Kˣ(633r), 39(42rb), F(68ra), E(48v), J2ˣ(339r), 42ˣ(34r) (Hkr); H(115r), Hr(75vb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [2] vara: varat FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    kostr: kostir FskAˣ    [3] brýns: so FskBˣ, FskAˣ, Kˣ, 39, F, E, J2ˣ, H, Hr, brýns or brúns Mork, brúns 42ˣ    [4] skrautum: háskautum FskAˣ, ‘harskrautum’ 42ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 457-8, Skj BI, 425, Skald I, 210, NN §2535, Mork 1867, 199, Mork 1928-32, 401, Andersson and Gade 2000, 364, 490 (MbHg); ÍF 29, 325 (ch. 95); ÍF 28, 286-7 (MbHg ch. 7), F 1871, 314, E 1916, 169; Fms 7, 184-5 (MbHg ch. 8).

Context: The helmingr documents the siege of Bergen (1134-5), when Haraldr gilli and his men prevented Magnús inn blindi and his troops from leaving that city. Magnús had previously enclosed the bay of Bergen with iron chains so that Haraldr’s ships could not enter it. That strategy backfired, however, because Haraldr and his army circumvented the blockade and approached from land. When Magnús tried to escape on his ship, the chains prevented him from sailing away.

Notes: [2] vara ‘was not’: One of the first examples of a rhotacised r in the sg. pret. indic. of the verb vesa/vera ‘to be’ (here secured by internal rhyme; see also ESk Lv 1/3 below). — [3] brýns (m. gen. sg.): Lit. ‘of speediness’. Taken here as a substantivised adj. (see LP: brýnn 2) governed by kostr ‘possibility’ (l. 2) (so also ÍF 28; ÍF 29). Skj B adopts the 42ˣ variant brúns (the word is difficult to read in Mork) and construes it as part of a kenning for ‘ship’: skrautum brúns hás ‘for the ships of the brown oarlock’ (ll. 3, 4). However, skrauti itself appears to mean ‘ship’. See LP: skrauti, and Scröter, the name of Erik’s ship in Saxo (2005, I, 5, 2, 3, pp. 286-7) (most likely from skraut ‘adornment’). Kock (NN §2535) takes brúns as a name (Brúnn) for Óðinn (or for a sea-king). He suggests the following reading: vara kostr háskrautum fara braut Brúns ‘it was no possibility for the tall ships to go on the road of Brúnn (i.e. on the sea)’. Brúnn (and Brúni) is a name for Óðinn (see LP: Brúnn; Brúni), but it is not attested as the name of a sea-king. It is difficult to see how ‘the road of Óðinn’ could be construed as a kenning for ‘sea’. The prose of Hkr reads as follows (ÍF 28, 286): Magnús konungr gekk út á skip sitt, en þeim var engi kostr brot at fara ‘King Magnús went out onto his ship, but there was no possibility for them to sail away’. — [4] háskrautum ‘the tall ships’: See the comparable - in hánǫðru ráfiðris ‘the tall adder of the sailyard-feather’ below (st. 4/3). ÍF 28 and ÍF 29 take Skrauti (dat. pl. Skrautum) as the name of an ox (unattested) and as part of a kenning for ‘ship’: -Skrautum ‘for the oarlock-oxen (i.e., for the ships)’. For other interpretations, see Note to l. 3 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. 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. Andersson, Theodore M. and Kari Ellen Gade, trans. 2000. Morkinskinna: The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030-1157). Islandica 51. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  8. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  11. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  12. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  13. Mork 1867 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1867. Morkinskinna: Pergamentsbog fra første halvdel af det trettende aarhundrede. Indeholdende en af de ældste optegnelser af norske kongesagaer. Oslo: Bentzen.
  14. Internal references
  15. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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].
  16. Not published: do not cite (MbHgII)
  17. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Lausavísur 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. 568-9.

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