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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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KormǪ Lv 65III

Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Kormákr Ǫgmundarson, Lausavísur 65’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 287.

Kormákr ǪgmundarsonLausavísur65

text and translation

Þvít málvinu minnar
mildr Þórketill vildir.

Þvít, mildr Þórketill, vildir … málvinu minnar.
‘Because, generous Þorketill, you wanted … of my beloved.

notes and context

The couplet is cited as an example of epenthesis, a form of barbarismus. According to the prose of TGT, epenthesis is the insertion of a vowel or a syllable in the middle of a word so that it conforms to the metre. Óláfr Þórðarson, the author of TGT, would have this account for the use of the name Þorketill rather than Þorkell, i.e. the poet inserted ‑ti- to arrive at the correct number of syllables in the line (but cf. Note to l. 2 below).

Jón Sigurðsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 200), Björn Magnússon Ólsen (TGT 1884, 200) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B and 1931, 202) all agree that the two lines do not cohere syntactically. Kock (NN §2230), on the other hand, points out that verbs indicating a wish are construed with the gen., and he accordingly interprets the stanza as ‘because you have lusted for my beloved, generous Þorketill’. This interpretation is problematic on the evidence of Korm. There are two men of the name Þorkell in that saga: Þorkell í Tungu, the father of Steingerðr, Kormákr’s beloved (málvinu minnar, l. 1), and an otherwise unknown son of his, Þorkell tanngnjóstr ‘Tooth-gnasher’ Þorkelsson. It cannot be said that any of them ‘lusted for’ Steingerðr. While it is true that medieval narratives contain the motif of a father who desires his daughter and frightens or even kills possible wooers (see Kalinke 1990, 41-7), this motif in no way fits what is told about Þorkell í Tungu. Þorkell, fearing for his own and his daughter’s honour, first tries to prevent Kormákr’s visits by hiring men to attack him. When this fails, he betroths Steingerðr to Kormákr, but Kormákr does not appear at the wedding ceremony, which was regarded as a great insult. Þorkell and his son then arrange for Steingerðr to marry Hólmgǫngu-Bersi Véleifsson. Furthermore the syntax of Kock’s interpretation presents a problem. Although Kock is correct in noting that verbs of craving, wishing etc. are construed with the gen., vilja + gen. is attested neither in Fritzner: vilja nor among the examples of such constructions in NS §131; rather, this verb is consistently construed with the acc.


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: Kormákr Ǫgmundarson, 2. Lausavísur 65: AI, 91, BI, 85, Skald I, 50, NN §2230; SnE 1848-87, II, 136, 416, SnE 1848-87, III, 200, TGT 1884, 22, 88, 200, TGT 1927, 62, 101.


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