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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Glúmr Gráf 3I

Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Glúmr Geirason, Gráfeldardrápa 3’ 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. 251.

Glúmr GeirasonGráfeldardrápa

Dolgeisu rak dísar
— drótt kom mǫrg á flótta —
gumna vinr at gamni
gjóðum írsk*ar þjóðir.
Foldar rauð, ok felldi,
Freyr í manna dreyra
sverð, — vas sigr of orðinn —
seggi, mækis eggjar.

{Vinr gumna} rak írsk*ar þjóðir at gamni {gjóðum {dísar {dolgeisu}}}; mǫrg drótt kom á flótta. {Freyr {foldar eggjar mækis}} rauð sverð í dreyra manna ok felldi seggi; sigr vas of orðinn.

{The friend of men} [RULER = Haraldr] pursued Irish troops to the enjoyment {of ospreys {of the goddess {of the battle-fire}}} [SWORD > VALKYRIE > RAVENS/EAGLES]; many a war-band took to flight. {The Freyr <god> {of the land of the blade of the sword}} [SHIELD > WARRIOR] reddened the sword in the blood of men and killed warriors; victory came about.

Mss: (85v), F(15ra), J1ˣ(50v-51r), J2ˣ(48r) (Hkr); 61(4ra), Bb(5rb), Flat(7rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Dolg‑: so F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, Bb, Flat, døkk Kˣ    [3] at: af 61    [4] írsk*ar: írskrar Kˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, ‘iskrar’ F, Bb, Flat;    þjóðir: þjóðar all    [5] Foldar: fell þar er Bb;    rauð: ‘rod’ Bb    [7] sverð vas sigr of orðinn (‘suerð var sigr of uorðinn’): so 61, Flat, ‘sunnr a sigr um hlinninn’ Kˣ, sunnr á sigrs of hlunninn F, sverð á sigr of hlunnin J1ˣ, J2ˣ, svá er varð sigr of orðinn Bb    [8] eggjar: eggja Bb, eggju Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 75-6, Skj BI, 66, Skald I, 41, NN §255; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 174, IV, 45-6, ÍF 26, 156, Hkr 1991, I, 99 (HákGóð ch. 5), F 1871, 67; Fms 1, 25-6, Fms 12, 26, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 25 (ch. 16), Flat 1860-8, I, 52 .

Context: This stanza follows immediately after st. 2.

Notes: [All]: See Note to st. 2. — [1-4]: Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26; see also Fms) avoids the emendation of ms. írskrar þjóðar (see Note to l. 4) by taking rak dolgeisu together to mean ‘waged war, harried’. He sees this as parallel to vann rógeisu ‘made battle-fire, fierce conflict’, i.e. ‘proceeded with fire and the sword’ in st. 2/5 above (ÍF 26, 155 n.). However, dolg and róg both mean ‘battle’, and when compounded with eisa ‘fire’ form a well-attested pattern of sword-kenning (Meissner 150, which includes these two examples). Further, Bjarni’s interpretation leaves gjóðir dísar ‘ospreys of the dís’ as a raven-kenning in which dís, a female being, usually supernatural (LP: dís), signifies ‘valkyrie’ without a determinant. There are no other certain examples of this, and it is more satisfactory to read dolgeisa in the sense ‘sword’ as the determinant of the valkyrie-kenning. — [2]: The line is identical to Hókr Eirfl 7/8 and almost identical to Hfr ErfÓl 1/2. — [4] írsk*ar þjóðir ‘Irish troops’: The gen. sg. form írskrar þjóðar in the mss can be taken with drótt, hence ‘troop of Irish people’, but this produces a more complex word order and entails difficulty with the kennings (see Note to ll. 1-4). The phrase is therefore emended here (as in Skj B and Skald) to form the acc. pl. object of rak ‘pursued’. The reference to Irish opponents produced by either interpretation supports the account in Hkr (see Context to st. 2 above) of raids undertaken by Haraldr and his brothers í vestrvíking ‘on expeditions to the West’, i.e. the British Isles. — [5-8]: The difficulty of this helmingr is reflected in the variety of readings for l. 7. There are at least four possibilities. (a) The interpretation adopted here, like (b) and (c), is based on the reading of 61 and Flat in l. 7. A slight drawback is that the shield-kenning is somewhat overdetermined, since mækis ‘of the sword’ and possibly eggjar ‘of the blade’ would suffice as the determinant (cf. Meissner 173-4). However, eggja mækis ‘of the sword’s blades’ occurs as the determinant of a kenning in st. 10/2. (b) In the interpretation of Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) the warrior-kenning is Freyr sverðfoldar ‘the Freyr <god> of the sword-land [SHIELD > WARRIOR]’, but this assumes that sverð ‘sword’, the first possible object for rauð ‘reddened’, would be understood not as an object but part of a kenning with tmesis (of which this would be an unusually early example; cf. the criticism by Kock in NN §255). (c) Kock offers the simpler reading foldar Freyr rauð sverð í manna dreyra ok fel(l)di seggi mækis eggjum ‘the Freyr of the land reddened the sword in men’s blood and brought men down with the sword’s blades’. He takes eggju ‘blade’ in Flat as dat. pl. eggjum, though the f. dat. sg. eggju can be retained with the same sense. As a ruler-kenning, Freyr foldar ‘Freyr of the land’ resembles forms such as vǫrðr grundar ‘guardian of ground’ (st. 5/4 below), but differs crucially in having a god-name as base-word, more usual in warrior-kennings. (d) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 26 follows the reading in l. 7, giving the order foldar Freyr rauð mækis eggjar í manna dreyra ok feldi seggi sunnr, of hlynninn á sigr ‘the Freyr of land reddened the sword’s edges in men’s blood and killed men in the south, fostering victory’. The word *hlynninn does not occur elsewhere but is derived by Bjarni from the rare verb hlynna ‘to launch, help (someone) on their way’, and in ModIcel. ‘to foster’.


  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  7. 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.
  8. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  12. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  13. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  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 (HákGóðII)
  17. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 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. 403.
  18. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 7’ 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. 482.

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