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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Krm 16VIII

Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Krákumál 16’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 749.

Anonymous PoemsKrákumál

Hjuggu vér með hjörvi.
Hverr lá þverr um annan;
glaðr varð geira hríðar
gaukr at sverða leiki.
Lét ei örn né ylgi,
sá er Írlandi stýrði,
— mót varð málms ok rítar —
Marstan konungr fasta.
Varð í Veðrarfirði
valtafn gefit hrafni.

Hjuggu vér með hjörvi. Hverr lá þverr um annan; {gaukr {hríðar geira}} varð glaðr at {leiki sverða}. Marstan konungr, sá er stýrði Írlandi, lét ei ǫrn né ylgi fasta; varð mót málms ok rítar. Valtafn varð gefit hrafni í Veðrarfirði.

We hewed with the sword. Each man lay athwart another; {the cuckoo {of the storm of spears}} [BATTLE > RAVEN/EAGLE] became happy in {the game of swords} [BATTLE]. King Marstan, who ruled over Ireland, did not allow eagle or she-wolf to fast; a meeting of metal and shield came about. Corpse-prey was given to the raven in Waterford.

Mss: R702ˣ(30v), LR(213-214), R693ˣ(12r); 6ˣ(89r) (Ragn)

Readings: [1] Hjuggu vér með hjörvi: abbrev. as ‘H: v. m h.’ R702ˣ, Hjuggum vér með hjörvi LR, R693ˣ, 6ˣ    [2] Hverr: ‘hvor’ LR, R693ˣ;    um: of 6ˣ    [3] geira hríðar (‘geyra hridar’): ‘geira hrydur’ LR, ‘Gera broder’ with ‘Geira brudur al.’ in margin 6ˣ    [4] gaukr at sverða leiki: ‘geto vid soknar lęte’ 6ˣ    [8] ‑stan: ‑steinn 6ˣ    [9] Veðrar‑ (‘vedrar’): Veðra LR, R693ˣ, 6ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 645, Skj BI, 652-3, Skald I, 319; Rafn 1826, 14-15, 127-30, Pfeiffer 1860, 125-6, CPB II, 343, Wisén 1886-9, I, 64, Krm 1891, 227, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 88, Finnur Jónsson 1905, 155.

Notes: [All]: This stanza is not found in 1824b and apparently not in 147 either: in both these mss, 1824b (80r-v) and 147 (108v), the text runs straight on to st. 17. It may however be noted that between sts 23 and 24 as preserved on fol. 103r of 147 there is space sufficient to accommodate one stanza and apparently containing text, which, however, Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 188) could not read and which is still illegible.  — [3-4]: The present ed. follows the reading of the lines adopted by Finnur Jónsson (1905; Skj B) and by Kock (Skald). Previous eds from Rafn (1826) to Finnur Jónsson (1893b) inclusive follow here, reading: glaðr varð gera bróðir | getu við sóknar læti, i.e. bróðir gera varð glaðr getu við læti sóknar ‘the brother of the greedy one <wolf> became happy at [the prospect of nutritional] gain in the tumult of the onslaught’. — [3-4] gaukr hríðar geira ‘the cuckoo of the storm of spears [BATTLE > RAVEN/EAGLE]’: As de Vries (1964-7, II, 40 n. 68) notes, this kenning may show the influence of Hfr Óldr 5/7-8I, where the kenning gjóði hríðar geira ‘the osprey of the storm of spears [BATTLE > RAVEN/EAGLE]’ occurs. — [6, 8] Marstan konungr ‘King Marstan’: It has not proved possible to identify this king, stated here to have ruled over Ireland, and described in LP: Marstan as sagnkonge ‘a legendary king’. A search for his name or one approximating to it in the lists and genealogies of Irish kings and high-kings in Byrne (1973, 275-301), and Jaski (2000, 301-16, 342-8), has proved unavailing. The present ed. follows Finnur Jónsson (1905, 175 n. 2), in treating with scepticism Storm’s (1878, 112 n. 1) view that the name Marstan here reflects the Irish name Muirchertach (now Murdoch, ON Myrkjartan), a common enough name for Irish kings, according to Byrne (1973, 90, 146, 243) at least. — [7]: This line shows some verbal similarities to RvHbreiðm Hl 76/3III rít hykk malma meittu (variant reading: mættu) ‘I believe swords sliced (or met) the shield’. — [9] í Veðrarfirði ‘in Waterford’: The reference is to the Norse town, now the city of Waterford, that developed from a mid-C9th fortified landing place (OIr. longphort) near the mouth of the river Suir in south-east Ireland (cf. Haywood 2000, 204). Oftedal (1976, 133) explains the name Waterford as originally either ON Veðra(r)fjǫrðr ‘ram fjord’, with its first element understood as either gen. sg. (veðrar) or gen. pl. (veðra) of veðr ‘wether, ram’, or ON Veðrafjǫrðr ‘windy fjord’ with its first element understood as gen. pl. (veðra) of veðr ‘weather, wind’. The ms. readings above seem to allow for either possibility; previous eds, from Rafn (1826) to Finnur Jónsson (1893b) inclusive, read Veðra-; the present ed. follows Finnur Jónsson (1905; Skj B), as well as Skald, in reading Veðrar-. Rǫgnvaldr/Rægnald, possibly a grandson of Imhar of Dublin (the latter a likely prototype of Ragnarr loðbrók’s son Ívarr), took Waterford in 917 before departing for England the following year and establishing himself as king in York in 919 (see Note to st. 15/6 above, and Downham 2007, 31-2, 91-5). — [10] valtafn varð gefit hrafni ‘corpse-prey was given to the raven’: De Vries (1938, 722 n. 78) lists this line as an instance of the influence on Krm of RvHbreiðm Hl 17/7-8III, where the clause hrafn hafði jafnan hrátt tafn at slíta ‘the raven always had raw food to tear’ occurs.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. 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.
  5. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  6. Vries, Jan de. 1964-7. Altnordische Literaturgeschichte. 2 vols. 2nd edn. Grundriss der germanischen Philologie 15-16. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  7. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1886-9. Carmina Norrœnæ: Ex reliquiis vetustioris norrœnæ poësis selecta, recognita, commentariis et glossario instructa. 2 vols. Lund: Ohlsson.
  8. Finnur Jónsson. 1893b. Carmina Norrœna: Rettet Tekst. Copenhagen: Nielsen & Lydiche.
  9. Pfeiffer, Friedrich. 1860. Altnordisches Lesebuch. Leipzig: T. O. Weigel.
  10. Ragn 1906-8 = Olsen 1906-8, 111-222.
  11. Haywood, John. 2000. Encyclopaedia of the Viking Age. London: Thames & Hudson.
  12. Vries, Jan de. 1938. Een skald onder de troubadours. Ledeburg, Gent: N. V. Drukkerij Erasmus.
  13. Finnur Jónsson. 1905. ‘Krákumál’. Oversigt over det Kgl. Danske videnskabernes selskabs forhandlinger 1905, 151-83.
  14. Krm 1891 = 2nd edn (pp. 225-8) of Krm as ed. in Valdimar Ásmundarson 1885-9, I.
  15. Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. 1826. Krakas Maal eller Kvad om Kong Ragnar Lodbroks Krigsbedrifter og Heltedød efter en gammel Skindbog og flere hidtil ubenyttede Haandskrifter med dansk, latinsk og fransk oversættelse, forskjellige Læsemaader, samt kritiske og philologiske Anmærkninger. Copenhagen: Jens Hostrup Schultz; London: John and Arthur Arch.
  16. Byrne, Francis John. 1973. Irish Kings and High-Kings. London: Batsford.
  17. Downham, Clare. 2007. Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ívarr to A.D. 1014. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press.
  18. Jaski, Bart. 2000. Early Irish Kingship and Succession. Dublin: Four Courts.
  19. Oftedal, Magne. 1976. ‘Scandinavian Place-names in Ireland’. In Almqvist et al. 1976, 125-34.
  20. Internal references
  21. Not published: do not cite (RloðVIII)
  22. Rory McTurk 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Krákumál’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 706.
  23. Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1001.
  24. Elena Gurevich 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Veðra heiti’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 917.

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