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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Mark Eirdr 4II

Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2009, ‘Markús Skeggjason, Eiríksdrápa 4’ 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. 436-7.

Markús SkeggjasonEiríksdrápa

Vár ǫndurt bjó Vinða rýrir
veglig flaust ór Gǫrðum austan;
hlýrum skaut á hola bôru
helmings oddr í sumars broddi.
Hlýðu studdi borðvið breiðan
bróðir Knúts í veðri óðu;
síðan knátti svikfolks eyðir
snilli kenndr við Danmǫrk lenda.

Ǫndurt vár bjó {rýrir Vinða} veglig flaust austan ór Gǫrðum; í broddi sumars skaut {oddr helmings} hlýrum á hola bôru. {Bróðir Knúts} studdi breiðan borðvið hlýðu í óðu veðri; {eyðir svikfolks}, kenndr snilli, knátti síðan lenda við Danmǫrk.

At the onset of spring {the vanquisher of the Wends} [= Eiríkr] prepared noble ships [to travel] from the east out of Russia; at the beginning of summer {the leader of the unit} [WARRIOR] launched the bows onto the curving billow. {The brother of Knútr} [= Eiríkr] protected the broad plank-wood with a washboard in the turbulent weather; {the destroyer of treacherous people} [JUST RULER], skilled in eloquence, then put to shore in Denmark.

Mss: (142), 873ˣ(48r), 20b I(6v), 180b(29r) (Knýtl)

Readings: [1] rýrir: ‘tyrir’ 180b    [2] ‑lig: ‑ligt 180b;    flaust: flaustr 180b    [7] knátti: so 20b I, ‘knadi’ JÓ, 873ˣ, ‘knade’ 180b;    ‑folks: ‘‑fiolks’ 180b

Editions: Skj AI, 445, Skj BI, 414-15, Skald I, 204-5; 1741, 142-3, ÍF 35, 213 (ch. 70).

Context: Eiríkr’s return from Russia to Denmark (see st. 3 above).

Notes: [All]: As was the case with the previous st., the prose clearly paraphrases the poetry, and no other source mentions Eiríkr’s return to Denmark from this journey to Russia. The saga is also vague on the date of his return, but it seems to have taken place prior to 1095 (see Note to st. 3 [All] above). Saxo (2005, II, 12, 3, 1, pp. 66-7) tells us that Eiríkr was summoned from Sweden to assume the sovereignty of Denmark upon the death of his brother Óláfr (d. 1095). — [2] veglig flaust (n. acc. pl.) ‘noble ships’: Vegligt flaustr, the reading of 180b, is acc. sg. ‘noble ship’, with the later form, flaustr. — [4] helmings ‘of the unit’: For this military term, see Note to Valg Har 4/1. — [5] hlýðu ‘a washboard’: Suggested meanings for hlýða include ‘cabin’ and ‘bow’; see Jesch (2001a, 143) for the range of previous interpretations and argument for ‘washboard’. See also st. 14/3 below and Note to Halli XI, Fl 1/6 above. — [6] Knúts ‘of Knútr’: S. Knútr Sveinsson, Eiríkr’s older brother and king of Denmark (r. 1080-6). — [7] eyðir svikfolks ‘the destroyer of treacherous people [JUST RULER]’: Svikfolk, hap. leg., seems to refer specifically to the Wends, whose treacherous activities are referred to in sts 13-21, in particular, svikdómsmanna ‘of the treacherous men’ st. 13/3. See also the kenning rýrir Vinða ‘the vanquisher of the Wends’ (l. 1) and Note to st. 17/1. Because the Wends were pagan, they were appropriate candidates for opprobrium in Christian eyes, and someone like Eiríkr could be portrayed as especially righteous in opposing them. For the Wends and skaldic poetry, see also Morawiec 2006.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  4. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  5. 1741 = Jón Ólafsson, ed. 1741. Æfi dana-konunga eda Knytlinga saga: Historia Cnutidarum regum Daniæ. Copenhagen: [n. p.].
  6. Morawiec, Jakub. 2006. ‘Vinða myrðir, Vinðum háttr: Viking Raids on the Territory of the Slavs in the Light of Skaldic Poetry’. In McKinnell et al. 2006, II, 707-17.
  7. Internal references
  8. Russell Poole (ed.) 2009, ‘Halli stirði, Flokkr 1’ 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. 338-9.
  9. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Valgarðr á Velli, Poem about Haraldr harðráði 4’ 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, p. 303.

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