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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 14II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 14’ 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. 591-2.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

Fekk í fylkis skikkju
fangramligr ótangi;
rekkr réð hart at hnykkja
hildingi fémildum.
Sterkr vas stála Bjarki;
staka kvôðu gram nǫkkut;
afl hefr eggja skýflir
orðvandr fyr hyggjandi.

Fangramligr ótangi fekk í skikkju fylkis; rekkr réð at hnykkja fémildum hildingi hart. {Bjarki stála} vas sterkr; kvôðu gram staka nǫkkut; {orðvandr skýflir eggja} hefr afl fyr hyggjandi.

The strong-gripped rascal grabbed the cloak of the leader; the man managed to jostle the generous war-leader severely. {The Bjarki <legendary hero> of weapons} [WARRIOR] was strong; they said the prince stumbled a bit; {the speech-impeded destroyer of edges} [WARRIOR] has strength instead of intelligence.

Mss: R702ˣ(45v) (Orkn)

Readings: [7] skýflir: ‘skyklir’ R702ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 508, Skj BI, 482, Skald I, 236, NN §§967, 2064; Orkn 1887, 154, Orkn 1913-16, 223, ÍF 34, 203-4 (ch. 85), Bibire 1988, 232.

Context: Like st. 12, this st. is recorded only in R702ˣ, but with much less context. There is no indication of time or place, only that one day an óðr maðr ‘madman’ broke his restraints and grabbed the jarl so hard that he nearly fell.

Notes: [2] ótangi ‘rascal’: Skj B emends this hap. leg. to slangi ‘rascal’ (so also Skald) and Orkn 1913-16 puts it in inverted commas. It is noted in ÍF 34 that the word tangi occurs in SnE (W 1924, 104; SnE 1848-87, II, 496), in a list of various derogatory terms for men, and it is argued that the prefix is intensifying or emphatic rather than privative, although no evidence is presented for this. However, one might compare words like óvættr ‘evil spirit, troll’ in which the prefix supplies a negative connotation to an essentially neutral word. For suggested etymologies, see AEW: tangi. It is of interest that Marwick (1929, 186) records an Orkney dialect word tangie, tongie ‘a mythical being’, more specifically ‘a mysterious goblin, or devil, who lured people to their doom’ and there may be some connection here. — [7] skýflir ‘destroyer’: The main ms. has ‘skyklir’. In the left-hand margin is written ‘skiklir eggia / a verbo eg skek’, while below the st. is written in square brackets ‘eggia skyflir, aff eg skyfr’, both by the same scribe as of the main text. It is not clear whether these represent his attempts to read his exemplar or to make sense of the word. It is assumed here that skiklir is the scribe’s attempt to make sense of what he can read, while skýflir is proposed as an emendation, adopted here. The verb skýfa, to which he links it (similarly AEW: skyflir), is glossed in LP as hugge itu ‘cut in two’ while AEW translates as schieben ‘shove, push’ (similarly Fritzner); both meanings are noted in ÍF 34. A meaning such as ‘destroyer’ is however also suggested by the kenning gullskýflir ‘gold-waster’ in Gsind Hákdr 4/3I. It is not clear where Bibire’s 1988 translation of skýflir as ‘skirmisher’ comes from. — [8] orðvandr ‘the speech-impeded’: The adj. vandr can mean either ‘difficult’ or ‘careful’ (LP). Since ‘careful with words’ makes no sense in this context, the cpd has been interpreted as referring to the incomprehensible speech of Rǫgnvaldr’s attacker, whom the prose describes as a madman and whom the st. describes as having ‘strength rather than intelligence’. He may, however, simply have had a severe speech impediment. Orðvandr also occurs in Þstf Lv 3/6, in a similarly derogatory context (cf. NN §967). In ESk Geisl 46/4VII, the adv. form vant is used to express the difficulty of composing poetry.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  7. 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.
  8. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  9. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  10. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Bibire, Paul. 1988. ‘The Poetry of Earl Rǫgnvaldr’s Court’. In Crawford 1988, 208-40.
  12. Marwick, Hugh. 1929. The Orkney Norn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  13. Orkn 1887 = Gudbrand Vigfusson 1887-94, I.
  14. W 1924 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1924. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Codex Wormianus AM 242, fol. Copenhagen and Kristiania (Oslo): Gyldendal.
  15. Internal references
  16. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  17. Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 46’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 44-5.
  18. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 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. 162.
  19. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Þórarinn stuttfeldr, Lausavísur 3’ 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, p. 481.

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