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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Hfl 11I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 11’ 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. 755.

Óttarr svartiHǫfuðlausn

text and translation

Máttit enskrar ættar
ǫld, þars tókt við gjǫldum,
vísi, vægðarlausum,
víðfrægr, við þér bægja.
Guldut gumnar sjaldan
goll dǫglingi hollum;
stundum frák til strandar
stór þing ofan fóru.

Víðfrægr vísi, ǫld enskrar ættar máttit bægja við þér vægðarlausum, þars tókt við gjǫldum. Gumnar guldut sjaldan hollum dǫglingi goll; frák stundum stór þing fóru ofan til strandar.
‘Widely-famous ruler, the people of English race could not stand against you, merciless, when you received tribute. Men not seldom paid gold to the gracious king; I heard that at times great goods went down to the shore.

notes and context

Óláfr travels widely throughout England, taking tribute from the people or raiding as an alternative.

The ASC (s. a. 1012) records the payment of tribute to Þorkell’s army at Canterbury. Snorri Sturluson places this stanza after Sigv Víkv 9 (which records a battle at a place called Nýjamóða), and assumes it refers to a series of payments in unrecorded places, but this is probably a mistake, and it is more likely that Hfl 11 refers, with st. 10, to the attack on Canterbury (and note repetition of tókt and aldar/ǫld in the two stanzas).



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: Óttarr svarti, 2. Hǫfuðlausn 11: AI, 293, BI, 270, Skald I, 138; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 22, IV, 112, ÍF 27, 22 (ÓHHkr ch. 15); ÓH 1941, I, 47 (ch. 24), Flat 1860-8, II, 21.


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