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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Glúmr Gráf 13I

Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Glúmr Geirason, Gráfeldardrápa 13’ 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. 263.

Glúmr GeirasonGráfeldardrápa

text and translation

Þar vas — þrafna byrjar
þeim stýrðu goð Beima —
sjalfr í sœkialfi
sigtýr Atals dýra.

Þar vas {sigtýr} sjalfr í {sœkialfi {dýra Atals}}; goð stýrðu {þeim Beima {þrafna byrjar}}.
‘There the victory-god [= Óðinn] himself was in the attacking elf of the animals of Atall <sea-king> [SHIPS > SEA-WARRIOR = Haraldr]; the gods guided that Beimi <sea-king> of the stave of the fair wind [SHIP > SEA-WARRIOR = Haraldr].

notes and context

The stanza occurs in a list in SnE (Skm) exemplifying heiti and kennings for Óðinn.

The conception of Óðinn inhabiting the warrior is unique (LH I, 526), and leads Fidjestøl (1982, 91) to doubt whether the stanza belongs in a poem about Haraldr, who was nominally Christian, Eiríkr and all his family having been baptised in England, according to Hkr (ÍF 26, 152, 203). Some support for the idea of Haraldr as a devotee of Óðinn may be found in the unique occurrence of the god’s name as the base-word of a kenning in st. 8/2. Further possibilities are that Haraldr is perceived as having an Odinic ferocity in battle, or (Marold 2005a, 127-8) that the reference is to Óðinn possessing not Haraldr, but the one who deals him his death-blow. This would resonate with legends in which Óðinn presides over the death of a hero he has favoured, often claiming him as a sacrifice, but it would imply that the warrior guided by the gods (l. 2) was also Haraldr’s enemy, which seems unlikely in the light of the parallels from Eskál Vell mentioned below. — [3, 4] sœkialfi dýra Atals ‘the attacking elf of the animals of Atall <sea-king> [SHIPS > SEA-WARRIOR = Haraldr]’: The addition of the verbal element sœki- ‘attacking’ to the kenning alfr dýra Atals [SHIPS > SEAFARER] defines the referent as a warrior. For further examples of expressions for ‘sea-warrior’ claimed by Kock, see NN §1021.



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: Glúmr Geirason, 2. Gráfeldardrápa 12: AI, 78, BI, 68, Skald I, 42SnE 1848-87, I, 234-5, II, 303, SnE 1931, 89SnE 1998, I, 7, 156.


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