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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Mgóð Lv 2II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Magnús inn góði Óláfsson, Lausavísur 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. 6-7.

Magnús inn góði ÓláfssonLausavísur

text and translation

Margr kveðr sér at sorgum
sverðrjóðr alin* verða
— uggik allítt seggja
ótta — búkarls dóttur.
Enn, ef einhver bannar
eld-Gefn fyr mér svefna,
víst veldr siklings systir
svinn andvǫku minni.

{Margr sverðrjóðr} kveðr dóttur búkarls verða alin* sér at sorgum; uggik allítt ótta seggja. Enn, ef {einhver eld-Gefn} bannar svefna fyr mér, veldr víst svinn systir siklings andvǫku minni.
‘Many a sword-reddener [WARRIOR] claims that a farmer’s daughter was born to cause him sorrow; I care very little for men’s fear. Yet, if a certain fire-Gefn <= Freyja> [WOMAN] denies me sleep, it is certainly the sagacious sister of the ruler who causes my unrest.

notes and context

The st., which is attributed to Magnús in all mss, occurs without apparent context. It is inserted at the very end of an episode about a boy who was unable to dream, and it could be that the connection between ‘dreamlessness’ and ‘sleeplessness’ prompted the Mork compiler to include the st. at this point in the narrative.

Poole (1985, 116-18) argues that the attribution of this st. to Magnús inn góði Óláfsson is erroneous. He suggests instead that it was part of a sequence of love sts composed by Magnús berfœttr Óláfsson (Mberf Lv 3-6). In three of these lvv. (Lv 3-5). Magnús professes his love for a woman called Mektildr (Matilda), who, according to the surrounding prose, is the daughter of an emperor (see Mork 1928-32, 330-1). As Poole shows, this woman was most likely Matilda, the daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and the sister of King Edgar (r. 1097-1107). In Mberf Lv 3, Magnús berfœttr complains that Matilda denies him fun and pleasure and teaches him ‘to sleep but little’, an imagery in keeping with the that of the present st. It is likely that the compiler of Mork confused Magnús berfœttr Óláfsson and Magnús góði Óláfsson, and attributed Mgóði Lv 2 to the wrong Magnús. The sense of the st. is that, while other men may complain about (and fear) the pain that they experience because of their love for lowborn women, Magnús himself has no worries in that respect; rather, it is his love for the ‘ruler’s’ sister that prevents him from sleeping.



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: Magnús Óláfsson enn góði, Lausavísur 2: AI, 330, BI, 304, Skald 155, NN §808; Mork 1868, 33, Mork 1928-32, 119-20, Andersson and Gade 2000, 168, 475 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 323 (MH); Fms 6, 200 (HSig ch. 25).


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