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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Knútdr 6I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Knútsdrápa 6’ 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. 774.

Óttarr svartiKnútsdrápa

text and translation

Ungr fylkir, lézt Engla
allnær Thesu falla;
flóði djúpt of dauðra
dík Norðimbra líkum.
Svefn braut svǫrtum hrafni
sunnarr hvǫtuðr gunnar;
olli sókn inn snjalli
Sveins mǫgr at Skorsteini.

Ungr fylkir, lézt Engla falla allnær Thesu; djúpt dík flóði of líkum dauðra Norðimbra. {Hvǫtuðr gunnar} braut svǫrtum hrafni svefn sunnarr; {inn snjalli mǫgr Sveins} olli sókn at Skorsteini.
‘Young ruler, you caused the English to fall very near the Tees; the deep ditch flowed over the bodies of dead Northumbrians. The urger of battle [WARRIOR] broke the sleep of the dark raven further south; the bold son of Sveinn [= Knútr] made an attack at Sherston.

notes and context

The stanza follows a prose account of the battle of Skorsteinn (Sherston).

[1-2]: Steinn Óldr 2/1-2II, lines about a battle in 1066 by a different river, the Yorkshire Ouse (Úsa), are closely similar. — [5-8]: The question as to whether or not Óttarr alternates in this poem between 2nd and 3rd pers. narration is especially pressing here. (a) In the mss both verbs in the second helmingr are in the 3rd pers. (braut ‘broke’, olli ‘made’), and so are retained here, as also by Kock (NN §737 and Skald, followed by ÍF 35), this being the only point in the poem where he retains the 3rd pers. (b) Skj B and Knýtl 1919-25 emend to 2nd pers. forms. Although the use of the def. art. in inn snjalli mǫgr Sveins ‘the bold son of Sveinn’ may suggest that this phrase is a 3rd pers. subject rather than an apostrophe, Óttarr does use the def. art. in a 2nd pers. context in st. 10/1-2.



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, 3. Knútsdrápa 6: AI, 297, BI, 273-274, Skald I, 140, NN §620, 736, 737; Fms 11, 191, Fms 12, 248, SHI 11, 180, Knýtl 1919-25, 40, ÍF 35, 109 (ch. 10).


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