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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Grani Har 2II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Grani skáld, Poem about Haraldr harðráði 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. 298-9.

Grani skáldPoem about Haraldr harðráði

text and translation

Dǫglingr fekk at drekka
danskt blóð ara jóði;
hirð hykk hilmi gerðu
Hugins jól við nes Þjólar.
Ætt spornaði arnar
allvítt við valfalli;
hold át vargr, sem vildi,
— vel njóti þess — Jóta.

Dǫglingr fekk jóði ara danskt blóð at drekka; hykk hilmi gerðu {hirð Hugins} jól við Þjólarnes. Allvítt spornaði ætt arnar við valfalli; vargr át hold Jóta, sem vildi; vel njóti þess.
‘The lord gave the brood of eagles Danish blood to drink; I believe the ruler prepared a yule-feast for the retinue of Huginn <raven> [RAVENS] by Þjólarnes. Far and wide the kin of the eagle trod on the fallen carrion; the wolf ate the flesh of the Jótar as it pleased; may it truly enjoy that.

notes and context

In Mork and H-Hr this st. follows st. 1 above. In SnE the first two ll. illustrate that dǫglingr lit. ‘descendant of the legendary king Dagr’ is a heiti for ‘ruler, dignitary’.

For this campaign, see Note to st. 1 [All] above. — [1-4]: Because B is difficult to read, AM 744 4°ˣ (744ˣ), an early C18th copy of B by Jón Ólafsson, has been consulted selectively. — [3]: This l. has significant variants. (a) The present edn follows the Mork version but replaces hríð ‘storm, onslaught’ (l. 3) (so Mork) with hirð (f. dat. sg.) ‘retinue’ (so A, B), which restores the internal rhyme (-irð- : ‑erð-) and retains the imagery from ll. 1-2 of Haraldr preparing a feast of carrion for the beasts of battle. It looks as though <ri> in Mork is a misreading of the original abbreviation for <ir>. The H and Hr versions (hǫrð veitk hilmi gerðu ‘I know that the leader performed harsh’ (so H); hǫrð verk hilmir gerði ‘the leader performed harsh deeds’ (so Hr)) are secondary and must represent attempts to restore the missing internal rhyme (see Louis-Jensen 1977, 153). (b) A and B provide stýrðu lit. ‘controlled, ruled, possessed’ (l. 3) for Mork’s gerðu (past inf.) ‘prepared, made’. The syntax of the resulting cl. is not clear. Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 222, II, 404-5) suggests that stýra (stýrðu past inf.) here means ‘prepare’ although the verb is otherwise not attested in that meaning (see Fritzner: stýra; LP: stýra). Furthermore, stýra is regularly construed with a dat. object (see NS §102.e), and jól ‘yule-feast’ (l. 4) is n. acc. pl. (c) Skj B (and Skald) emends hilmi (m. dat. or acc. sg.) ‘the leader’ to hilmis (m. gen. sg.) qualifying hirð ‘retinue’ (l. 3), taken as f. acc. sg.: hykk hirð hilmis gerðu hugins jól translated as jeg ved, at kongens hird foranstaltede en fest for ravnen ‘I know that the king’s retinue prepared a feast for the raven’ (ll. 3-4). This reading entails an emendation that goes against all ms. witnesses and shifts the focus from Haraldr to his retinue. (d) Another possible reading would be hykk hirð gerðu hilmi jól Hugins ‘I believe the retinue prepared the yule-feast of Huginn (i.e. ‘carrion’) for the ruler’, but again, this interpretation destroys the otherwise consistently applied imagery of Haraldr preparing a feast for the beasts of 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: Grani skáld, Digt om Harald hårdråde 2: AI, 387, BI, 357, Skald I, 179; Mork 1867, 53, Mork 1928-32, 158-9, Andersson and Gade 2000, 196-7, 476 (MH); Fms 6, 254-5 (HSig ch. 49); SnE 1848-87, I, 524-5, II, 344, 462, 541, 608, SnE 1931, 184, SnE 1998, I, 103.


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