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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

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.

Mss: Flat(139va), R702ˣ(45r) (Orkn)

Readings: [2] stendr: maðr R702ˣ    [3] Svǫlnis: so R702ˣ, ‘saudins’ Flat    [7] brík‑: blik Flat, R702ˣ;    ‑ruðr: ‑rauðr R702ˣ;    bǫðvar*: bǫðvars Flat, ‘bodvir’ R702ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 508, Skj 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.

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.

Notes: [All]: 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. — [1, 8] útar; framar ‘further out; further forward’: Útar is construed with á tjaldi, rather than meaning that the man stands ‘just inside the dwelling’, as Poole (2006, 153) would have it, while framar is taken to refer to the swinging/striking motion with the sword that the warrior depicted will not complete. — [1, 4] ríða ofan of ǫxl ‘swing down from his shoulder’: The meaning ‘swing’ is well attested for ríða (LP); the warrior is presumably depicted as just about to strike a blow, or in mid-strike. — [4] slíðrvǫnd ‘scabbard-wand’: LP translates this as frygtelig vånd ‘dreadful wand’ (similarly Poole 2006, 148). While this meaning of slíðr (as a compounding epithet) predominates in earlier poetry, the meaning ‘scabbard’ is better attested in the C12th, including several examples in Rǫgnvaldr’s own poetry (st. 17 below; RvHbreiðm Hl 18, 71, 74III), both as a simplex and in kennings. Admittedly, the resulting kenning is imperfect, as it contains an extra determinant, Svǫlnis Vára ‘Svǫlnir’s Várs’, and Poole’s solution remains a possibility. — [6] ǫrbeiðanda ‘of arrow-requesters’: Bibire 1988 interprets the first element as ‘arrow’ (ǫr f.), but admits the possibility that it means ‘eager’ (as in LP), Poole (2006, 147) translates it as ‘frenzied’, while both Skj B and ÍF 34 paraphrase the whole expression rather than translating. While the adj. ǫrr, meaning both ‘quick’ (and therefore ‘bold, brave’) and ‘generous’ is used elsewhere by Rv (cf. sts 1/1, 12/6), both as a simplex and as the first element in a cpd, a weapon-word seems most appropriate in this context. — [7] bríkruðr ‘plank-tree’: The emendation of blik- ‘shimmer’ to brík ‘plank’ rather than of œgir ‘threatener’ to ægis ‘of the sea’ (l. 5), as in Skj B, Skald, ÍF 34 and Poole 2006, provides a warrior-kenning which is more appropriate to the content of the st. than the generous man-kenning of those interpretations. The emendation also simplifies the w. o. considerably and avoids an awkward tripartite l. (l. 5). — [7] bǫðvar* ‘of battle’: This emendation is first found (though not noted as such) in Orkn 1887.


  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. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. 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.
  6. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  8. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. Bibire, Paul. 1988. ‘The Poetry of Earl Rǫgnvaldr’s Court’. In Crawford 1988, 208-40.
  10. Poole, Russell. 2006. ‘Some Southern Perspectives on Starcatherus’. Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 2, 141-66.
  11. Orkn 1887 = Gudbrand Vigfusson 1887-94, I.
  12. Internal references
  13. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Oddi inn litli Glúmsson, Lausavísur 1’ 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. 614-16.
  14. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 18’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1026.

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