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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ólhelg Lv 3I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Óláfr inn helgi Haraldsson, Lausavísur 3’ 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. 520.

Óláfr inn helgi HaraldssonLausavísur

text and translation

Segið þat Karla,        es komið þangat,
nýtum þegni        fyr norðan haf,
at fleira skal        í fǫrum vinna
an hylda hval        hvǫssum knífi.

Segið þat Karla, nýtum þegni, fyr norðan haf, es komið þangat, at skal vinna fleira í fǫrum an hylda hval hvǫssum knífi.
‘Say this [lit. that] to Karli, a handy lad, north across the sea, when you get there, that [he] must do more on his travels than butcher whale with a sharp knife.

notes and context

This stanza is included in a dialogue between Óláfr and one of his skalds (named as Óttarr svarti in ÓHLeg, as Sigvatr Þórðarson in the versions of ÓH). The skald tells of his dealings with one Karli, an up-country farmer (located in Iceland in the Sigvatr versions), saying that he has spent some hours with Karli’s wife in a cave overlooking Karli’s homestead. He recites a stanza about this incident (Ótt Lv 3). The king smiles and replies with the present stanza.

The verse insult directed at cowardly stay-at-homes in this stanza finds parallels, for instance, in Anon Liðs 3, and see Note to l. 7 below.



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: Óláfr Haraldsson enn helgi, Lausavísur 6: AI, 221, BI, 211, Skald I, 110; ÓHLeg 1922, 58, ÓHLeg 1982, 136-7; Fms 5, 178, Fms 12, 110, ÓH 1941, II, 687, 701, Flat 1860-8, III, 241.


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