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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Bjark 1III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Bjarkamál in fornu 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 497.

Anonymous PoemsBjarkamál in fornu

text and translation

Dagrs upp kominn;         dynja hana fjaðrar;
máls vílmǫgum         at vinna erfiði.
Vaki æ ok vaki,         vina hǫfuð,
allir inir œztu         Aðils of sinnar.

Dagrs upp kominn; fjaðrar hana dynja; máls {vílmǫgum} at vinna erfiði. Vaki æ ok vaki, hǫfuð vina, allir inir œztu of sinnar Aðils.
‘Day has broken; the rooster’s feathers rustle; it is time for the sons of toil [SERVANTS] to get to work. Wake now and wake, friends, all the noblest companions of Aðils.

notes and context

King Óláfr awakens early while his men are still asleep and asks for his skald, Þormóðr, who is close by. The king asks Þormóðr to recite a poem to them (‘Tel þú oss kvæði nǫkkutÍF 27, 361). The skald sits up and recites sts 1 and 2 very loudly so that the whole army can hear him. The two stanzas are said to be the beginning (upphaf) of Bjarkamál in fornu.

The stanza is somewhat similar to lines near the opening of the Old English heroic fragment The Fight at Finnsburg, ll. 10-12 (Beowulf 2008, 283): Ac onwacniġeað nū, | wīġend mīne, | habbað ēowre linda, | hicgeaþ on ellen, | winnað on orde, | wesað on mōde! ‘But awaken now, my warriors, take hold of your shields, think of valour, fight in the vanguard, be courageous!’. — The stanza’s first helmingr evokes the sounds and activities of domesticity, with roosters crowing and servants starting the day’s work, while the second helmingr changes the focus to the warrior band who are still at rest and are urged by the speaker to get up and prepare for battle.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [X], II. A. Bjarkamál en fornu 1: AI, 180, BI, 170, Skald I, 91, FF §25; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 463, ÍF 27, 361 (ÓHHkr ch. 208); ÓH 1941, I, 547, Flat 1860-8, II, 343; ÍF 6, 262-3 (Fbr ch. 24).


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