Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Ótt Hfl 4I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 4’ 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. 746.

Óttarr svartiHǫfuðlausn

text and translation

Ǫttuð ôrum skreyttum
austr í salt með flaustum;
bôruð lind af landi,
landvǫrðr, á skip randir.
Neyttuð segls, ok sættuð
sundvarpaði stundum;
sleit mjǫk róin mikla
mǫrg ôr und þér bôru.

Ǫttuð skreyttum ôrum með flaustum austr í salt; {landvǫrðr}, bôruð lind af landi, randir á skip. Neyttuð segls, ok sættuð stundum {sundvarpaði}; mǫrg mjǫk róin ôr sleit mikla bôru und þér.
‘You urged decorated oars alongside the ships east on the salt sea; land-guardian [RULER], you carried the linden-shield from the land, shields onto the ships. You made use of the sail and sometimes deployed the sea-thrower [OAR]; many a much-rowed oar cut the great swell beneath you.

notes and context

In the autumn, Óláfr ravages Sweden in revenge for the death of his father at Swedish hands. The stanza is quoted as evidence that he travelled east from Denmark.

[1-2]: The general sense of the lines is clear, but subtly different construals of the syntax are possible. (a) Ǫttuð is 2nd pers. pl. pret. indic. of etja ‘goad, urge’ or possibly here ‘try, strain’. It is taken here, as normally, to be transitive, with a dat. object skreyttum ôrum ‘decorated oars’. Með (flaustum) is taken as ‘alongside (the ships)’ (cf. LP: með 8). (b) Kock (NN §725) takes ǫttuð as intransitive, with the sense ‘went’, comparing Þór Lv 1/1-2 etjum á sæ kaldan ‘we drive forward on the cold sea’. He takes ôrum skreyttum ... með flaustum to mean ‘with decorated oars [and] with ships’. (c) ÍF 27 follows Kock, but takes skreyttum to qualify flaustum, hence ‘with ships ornamented with oars’; p. p. skreyttr ‘decorated’ frequently governs the dat. (see examples in LP: skreyta). (d) Skj B suggests Ǫttuð skreyttum flaustum með ôrum austr í salt ‘you drove the ornamented ships with oars east on the salt sea/Baltic’. This gives excellent sense, but it is implausible that með ‘with’ and skreyttum are to be taken not with the adjacent words but with those at one line’s remove (cf. Kock, NN §725).



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 4: AI, 291, BI, 268, Skald I, 138, NN §§725, 1853C; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 6-7, IV, 105-6, ÍF 27, 6 (ÓHHkr ch. 5); ÓH 1941, I, 36 (ch. 21), Flat 1860-8, II, 15.


Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.