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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hharð Lv 12II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson, Lausavísur 12’ 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. 53-4.

Haraldr harðráði SigurðarsonLausavísur


This lv. (Hharð Lv 12) is part of a short anecdote involving Haraldr and a wealthy Norw. farmer (see Context below). The episode is transmitted in Mork (Mork), Flat (Flat) and H-Hr (H, Hr). Mork is the main ms. The metre is a variant of dróttkvætt with irregularities in syllable-count and internal rhymes.

text and translation

Kennir kyrtil þenna?
Kú átt skjǫldungi gjalda,
ok alvaxinn oxa
átt skjǫldungi gjalda.
Bǫrn ok allt, þats árnar,
átt skjǫldungi gjalda;
svín ok aligás eina
átt skjǫldungi at gjalda.
Margar eru manna vélar:
mosa átt ok skjǫldungi at gjalda.

Kennir þenna kyrtil? Átt gjalda skjǫldungi kú, ok alvaxinn oxa átt gjalda skjǫldungi. Bǫrn ok allt, þats árnar, átt gjalda skjǫldungi; svín ok eina aligás átt at gjalda skjǫldungi. Margar eru vélar manna: mosa átt ok at gjalda skjǫldungi.
‘Do you recognise this tunic? You must yield a cow to the king, and a full-grown ox you must yield to the king. Your children and all that you acquire, you must yield to the king; a pig and one tame goose you must yield to the king. Many are the deceits of men: moss you must also yield to the king.

notes and context

Haraldr visits a farmer, Úlfr inn auðgi ‘the Wealthy’, in Opplandene, Norway. He is annoyed at the splendour displayed at the banquet held in his honour and proceeds to tell a story about the dealings between his own grandfather, Hálfdan Sigurðarson, and Úlfr’s grandfather, Álmsteinn, a slave. Because of Álmsteinn’s treacherous behaviour, Hálfdan proclaimed that Álmsteinn, as well as his descendents, should be slaves forever. Upon finishing the story, King Haraldr hands Úlfr a white tunic, the symbol of bondage, and recites this st.

[9-10]: These ll., which are omitted in Hr, are added by Haraldr as an afterthought (Mork 1928-32, 193): oc þar let konungr fylgia drag þetta ‘and the king supplemented it with this addition’. For the technical term drag ‘addition’, see SnE 1999, 8.



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: Haraldr Sigurðarson harðráði, Lausavísur 17: AI, 360, BI, 331, Skald I, 167, NN §§2445B, 2989B; Mork 1867, 68, Mork 1928-32, 193, Andersson and Gade 2000, 219, 477 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 354 (MH); Fms 6, 346-7 (Hsig ch. 95).


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