Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ólhelg Lv 8I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Óláfr inn helgi Haraldsson, Lausavísur 8’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 527.

Óláfr inn helgi HaraldssonLausavísur

Fagr stóðk, meðan bar brúði
blakkr, ok sák á sprakka
— oss lét ynðis missa
augfǫgr kona — af haugi.
Keyrði Gefn ór garði
góðlôt vala slóðar
eyk, en ein glǫp sœkir
jarl hvern, kona snarlig.

Stóðk fagr, meðan blakkr bar brúði, ok sák á sprakka af haugi; augfǫgr kona lét oss missa ynðis. {Góðlôt Gefn {slóðar vala}}, snarlig kona, keyrði eyk ór garði, en ein glǫp sœkir hvern jarl.

I stood, handsome, as the dark horse bore the bride, and I gazed on the lady from the mound; the handsome-eyed woman caused us [me] to forfeit happiness. {The courteous Gefn <= Freyja> {of the track of falcons}} [ARM > WOMAN], quick-witted woman, spurred her mount out of the yard, but one error afflicts every jarl.

Mss: 61(94vb), Flat(123ra), Tóm(114v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Fagr: so Flat, fjǫgur 61, Tóm;    stóðk: stóð Flat;    meðan: er Flat    [2] ok sák á sprakka: sýndisk mér sprakki Flat;    sák: sat Tóm    [4] af: á Flat    [5] Keyrði: ‘þeynar’ Tóm;    Gefn: gerðr Flat, gefit Tóm;    garði: gǫrðum Flat    [6] slóðar: slóðir Tóm    [7] eyk (‘eyk ek’): eik Flat, om. Tóm;    ein glǫp: so Flat, eitt mein 61, Tóm    [8] kona: konur Flat;    snarlig: allar Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 222, Skj BI, 212, Skald I, 111, NN §2196A; Fms 4, 195-6, Fms 5, 200, Fms 12, 86-7, 110, ÓH 1941, II, 771, 820, Flat 1860-8, II, 341.

Context: In Flat it is told briefly that on one occasion when Óláfr was in Garðaríki (north-west Russia) the princess Ingigerðr went off on a journey. Seeing this, Óláfr spoke the stanza; Lv 9 follows. The version contained in 61 and Tóm locates the episode within the story that a marriage arrangement between Óláfr and Ingigerðr, daughter of Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson, broke down when her father instead gave her to Jarizleifr (Jaroslav), ruler of Russia. Seeing Óláfr outraged at this breach of faith, Ingigerðr’s sister Ástríðr pleads with him not to sacrifice the lives of Christian men and instead to accept her hand in marriage. When he proves intransigent, she rebukes him and rides off. The king climbs a nearby burial mound and speaks the stanza, reflecting that Ástríðr is right that it is a terrible misdeed (mikill glæpr) to sacrifice the lives of many Christian men for the sake of the difference between two sisters. He then accepts Ástríðr in marriage.

Notes: [3, 4] kona lét oss missa ynðis ‘the woman caused us [me] to forfeit happiness’: Parentheses in mansǫngr stanzas often generalise about the speaker’s situation in this way. — [4] af haugi ‘from the mound’: Some burial place connected with the garðr ‘yard’ (l. 5) is envisaged. Aristocratic residences were often established in the neighbourhood of much older burial mounds, perhaps as a mark of status or of cultural continuity (Niles 2007, 181-2, 189-90). — [7-8] ein glǫp sœkir hvern jarl ‘one error afflicts every jarl’: This is the sole attestation of glǫp ‘error’ in poetry (LP: glǫp), and its reference is not clear. In the context of the stanza, impropriety or a susceptibility to women would be appropriate, and glap n. is recorded in prose referring to inappropriate attentiveness to a woman (Fritzner: glap), while glǫp f. refers to a flaw in legal procedure (Fritzner: glǫp). Glœpr ‘misdeed, sin’ (Fritzner: glœpr) in the prose context to the stanza gives a stronger Christian and moralistic emphasis to the narrative, but it is not clear whether this is present in the stanza’s use of glǫp. — [8] snarlig kona ‘quick-witted woman’: This is taken here as a nom. in apposition to the woman-kenning based on Gefn. It could alternatively be construed as a vocative.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  8. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  9. Niles, John D. 2007. Beowulf and Lejre. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 323. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
  10. Internal references
  11. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. clxi-clxii.

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