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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Glúmr Gráf 1I

Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Glúmr Geirason, Gráfeldardrápa 1’ 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. 248.

Glúmr GeirasonGráfeldardrápa

Hlýði! Hapta beiðis
hefk mildinga gildi;
því biðjum vér þagnar,
þegna tjón at fregnum.

Hlýði! Hefk {gildi {beiðis hapta}} mildinga; því biðjum vér þagnar, at fregnum tjón þegna.

Listen! I begin {the banquet {of the ruler of the gods}} [= Óðinn > POETRY] of princes; we [I] ask for silence because we [I] have heard of the loss of the man.

Mss: R(21v), Tˣ(21v-22r), W(46), U(27r), B(4r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Hlýði: hlýddi Tˣ;    Hapta: hafra B;    beiðis: beiðir Tˣ, B    [2] hefk: hefr U, hefsk B;    mildinga: mildi W;    gildi: om. W, gild U    [3] biðjum: so W, U, B, bjóðum R, biðju Tˣ    [4] at: so Tˣ, W, U, B, af R

Editions: Skj AI, 75, Skj BI, 66, Skald I, 41, NN §§254, 2745, 3097C; SnE 1848-87, I, 248-9, II, 306, 522, SnE 1931, 93SnE 1998, I, 12, 162. 

Context: The stanza occurs as one of a sequence exemplifying kennings for ‘poetry’ referring to the myth of Óðinn’s theft of the mead of poetry.

Notes: [1] hlýði ‘listen’: This 3rd pers. sg./pl. pres. subj. verb functions as an imp., calling for a hearing and marking the helmingr as the conventional introduction to a poem, cf. Þhorn Harkv 1/1 Hlýði hringberendr ‘Let sword-bearers [WARRIORS] listen’. For it to occur without a subject is unusual; for a suggested emendation which supplies one, see Note to l. 2 mildinga. — [1, 2] gildi beiðis hapta ‘the banquet of the ruler of the gods [= Óðinn > POETRY]’: One of several skaldic kennings based on the myth of the mead of poetry, on which, see Note to ESk Vell 1 [All]. — [2] hefk ‘I begin’: Probably 1st pers. sg. pres. indic. of hefja ‘I raise, begin’ rather than the identical form from hafa ‘have’, as Kock notes (NN §2745). — [2] mildinga ‘of princes’: (a) The gen. pl. mildinga is retained here and by Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 12, 162, II, 356). There are parallels in prose to the use of gen. to refer to the subject of poetry, e.g. í kvæðum hans ‘in poetry about him’, cited from Egils saga in the Introduction above. Mildinga ‘of princes’ would not literally apply to the poem as it survives, with its strong focus on Haraldr, but it could be taken as a pl. for sg. referring to Haraldr as its subject, or perhaps generally to ‘princes’ as the natural subject of poetry. Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 162) takes mildinga as a possible indication that the poem is ‘addressed to an assembly of rulers (or at least to more than one of the dead king’s brothers)’; cf. Fidjestøl (1982, 91, 230). (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B and Kock in Skald emend to the nom. pl. mildingar and construe it with hlýði, hence ‘let the princes hear!’. However, reading mildingar goes against all mss and produces an awkward word order. — [3] biðjum ‘we [I] ask’: This reading is adopted by all eds in place of bjóðum ‘we [I] command, offer’, the reading of R. — [4] tjón þegna ‘the loss of the man’: (a) Tjón ‘loss, destruction’ normally takes the gen. of the person or thing lost (LP, Fritzner: tjón), and this phrase could refer to the death of Haraldr gráfeldr (as assumed in Skj B and this edn), with gen. pl. þegna ‘of men’ for gen. sg. ‘of the man’. (b) Þegn, however, seems inappropriately lowly as a designation of a king, and the sense here may be ‘the followers’ loss [of their lord]’ (so Kock, NN §254; Faulkes, SnE 1998, II, 433). A further possibility is a reference to all those who fell in battle.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  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. Fidjestøl, Bjarne. 1982. Det norrøne fyrstediktet. Universitet i Bergen Nordisk institutts skriftserie 11. Øvre Ervik: Alvheim & Eide.
  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. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  10. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  11. Internal references
  12. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 1’ 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. 283.
  13. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 1’ 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. 94.

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