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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ólhv Hryn 11II

Lauren Goetting (ed.) 2009, ‘Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda 11’ 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. 668-9.

Óláfr hvítaskáld ÞórðarsonHrynhenda

text and translation

Snǫrp bitu járn, sem ísmǫl yrpi
óðastraumr; með heitu blóði
herstefnir rauð hamri ofna
hildar serki framar merkjum.
Grimmum stóð á Gǫndlar himni
grár regnbogi Hnikars þegna;
harða lustu fylking fyrða
fáreldingar meginsára.

Snǫrp járn bitu, sem óðastraumr yrpi ísmǫl; {herstefnir} rauð {hamri ofna serki hildar} með heitu blóði framar merkjum. {Grár regnbogi Hnikars} stóð á {grimmum himni Gǫndlar} þegna; {fáreldingar meginsára} lustu harða fylking fyrða.
‘Sharp weapons bit, as if a raging stream were casting up pieces of ice; the army-leader [WARRIOR = Hákon] reddened the hammer-woven shirts of battle [BYRNIES] with hot blood ahead of the standards. The grey rainbow of Hnikarr <= Óðinn> [SPEAR] stood in the men’s fierce sky of Gǫndul <valkyrie> [SHIELD]; the destructive lightning bolts of great wounds [SPEARS] powerfully struck the company of men.

notes and context

Part of Skúli’s army was driven inside the churchyard of Hallvardskirken, and the Birkibeinar assaulted them from outside. Both sides launched stones, spears, and arrows across the churchyard. Meanwhile, Hákon advanced toward Skúli and the remaining part of his force.

[4-8]: (a) The weapon-kennings grár regnbogi Hnikars ‘the grey rainbow of Hnikarr’, l. 6, and fáreldingar meginsára ‘the destructive lightning bolts of great wounds’, l. 8, are taken to mean ‘spear’ and ‘spears’ respectively. Kennings for both swords and spears may contain base-words that denote types of light or luminescent objects (including rainbows and lightning; see Meissner 145-6), but because of the immediate prose context, ‘spears’ is preferable to ‘swords’. See also Note to Sturl Hákkv 16 [All]. (b) The second helmingr contains an artful nýgerving. The three kennings are congruent in their use of sky imagery.



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 Þórðarson hvítaskáld, 2. Et hrynhent digt 11: AII, 96, BII, 108, Skald II, 57, NN §§2281, 2577; E 1916, 605, F 1871, 516, Hák 1910-86, 560, Hák 1977-82, 128, Flat 1860-8, III, 153.


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