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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 13II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 13’ 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. 590-1.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

text and translation

Lætr of ǫxl, sás útar,
aldrœnn, stendr á tjaldi,
sig-Freyr Svǫlnis Vára
slíðrvǫnd ofan ríða.
Eigi mun, þótt œgir
ǫrbeiðanda reiðisk,
bríkruðr bǫðvar* jǫkla
beinrangr framar ganga.

{Aldrœnn sig-Freyr}, sás stendr útar á tjaldi, lætr {slíðrvǫnd {Svǫlnis Vára}} ríða ofan of ǫxl. {Beinrangr {{bǫðvar* jǫkla} brík}ruðr} mun eigi ganga framar, þótt {œgir {ǫrbeiðanda}} reiðisk.
‘The elderly battle-Freyr <= god> [WARRIOR] who stands further out on the tapestry lets his scabbard-wand of Svǫlnir’s <= Óðinn’s> Várs <goddesses> [VALKYRIES > SWORD] swing down from his shoulder. The bandy-legged tree of the plank of the glaciers of battle [(lit. ‘plank-tree of the glaciers of battle’) SWORDS > SHIELD > WARRIOR] will not go further forward even if the threatener of arrow-requesters [WARRIORS > WARRIOR] gets angry.

notes and context

At Christmas time, Rǫgnvaldr jarl challenged Oddi to compose a st. (Oddi Lv 1) about one of his wall-hangings, at the same time as, and without using any of the words in, Rǫgnvaldr’s own st. on the same subject.

Both this st. and Oddi Lv 1 are interpreted here as referring to a wall-hanging that depicts a warrior prepared to attack a person or persons unknown. Rǫgnvaldr’s st. seems to make the point that, because of the static nature of the image, the warrior will never carry out his threat, however angry he gets. Oddi’s st. has more detail (the warrior is standing by a door, presumably to attack whoever comes out) and the poet enters into the spirit of the pictorial narrative by assuming an ongoing, rather than a static, situation. Detailed discussion of both sts, including previous interpretations and new readings of both, is offered by Poole 2006. The st. has clearly suffered in transmission and is impossible to construe without some kind of emendation; the interpretation offered here is one of several conceivable.



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: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 13: AI, 508, BI, 481-2, Skald I, 236, NN §§974, 975; Flat 1860-8, II, 475, Orkn 1887, 154, Orkn 1913-16, 222, ÍF 34, 202 (ch. 85), Bibire 1988, 231.


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