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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 15II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 15’ 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. 592-3.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

Vísts, at frá berr flestu
Fróða meldrs at góðu
vel skúfaðra vífa
vǫxtr þinn, konan svinna.
Skorð lætr hár á herðar
haukvallar sér falla
— átgjǫrnum rauðk erni
ilka — gult sem silki.

Konan svinna, vísts, at vǫxtr þinn berr at góðu frá vel flestu vífa skúfaðra {meldrs Fróða}. {Skorð {haukvallar}} lætr hár, gult sem silki, falla á herðar sér; rauðk ilka átgjǫrnum erni.

Wise woman, it is certain that your [hair-]growth surpasses in beauty [that of] pretty much most women with locks [like] {the meal of Fróði <legendary king>} [GOLD]. {The prop {of the hawk-field}} [ARM > WOMAN] lets her hair, yellow like silk, fall onto her shoulders; I reddened the claws of the food-hungry eagle.

Mss: 325I(12v), Flat(140ra), R702ˣ(46r) (Orkn)

Readings: [2] Fróða meldrs at góðu: fegurð þín konan svinna R702ˣ;    meldrs: so Flat, meldr 325I    [3] skúfaðra: skapaðra R702ˣ;    vífa: so Flat, ‘vipi’ 325I, ‘viva’ corrected from ‘vipa’ R702ˣ    [8] gult: gull Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 508, Skj BI, 482, Skald I, 236, NN §2065; Flat 1860-8, II, 478, Orkn 1887, 160-1, Orkn 1913-16, 233, ÍF 34, 210 (ch. 86), Bibire 1988, 232.

Context: Having arrived in Narbonne, Rǫgnvaldr and his crusaders are invited to a feast by Ermingerðr, who is described as a drottning ‘queen’ and the daughter of the recently-deceased jarl of the town. Ermingerðr enters the hall with her women, carrying a golden vessel to serve Rǫgnvaldr, who grabs her hand and places her on his lap, ok tǫluðu mart um daginn ‘and they spoke about many things during the day’.

Notes: [All]: The visit to Narbonne happened in the summer of 1151. Ermingerðr is Ermengard, Viscountess of Narbonne, daughter of Aymeri IV. She inherited the town at a young age (her date of birth is not known) when her two brothers predeceased her father. After some turbulent years and, despite two marriages of convenience, she ruled Narbonne in her own right from the 1140s and was an energetic and effective ruler until her death in 1196. She appears widely in troubadour poetry and she was probably a patron of this genre. For a full study of her life and rule, see Cheyette 2001 and Caille 2005, chs 10-11; for detailed discussion of the troubadour connection, see Finlay 1995. — [2] meldrs Fróða ‘the meal of Fróði <legendary king> [GOLD]’: This refers to the story of the magic quern Grotti, which grinds out gold for the legendary Dan. king Fróði (SnE 1998, I, 51-8). Here, meldr refers to the product of grinding (‘meal, flour’), but more commonly means ‘the act of grinding’ in OIcel. (cf. SnSt Ht 43III; SnE 1998, I, 53, 57) and indeed the kenning often includes the name of one of the slave-women who did the grinding (e.g. meldr Fenju ‘Fenja’s flour’ in ESk Øxfl 6/6, 7III). Since the whole point of the story is that King Fróði had slaves to do his grinding, meldr must have the meaning ‘meal, flour’ here. This meaning is also found in the dialects of Faroe, Shetland and Orkney and it may be evidence of non-Icel. usage here. The more usual form of this kenning is mjǫl Fróða  ‘Fróði’s meal’ (e.g. Egill Hfl 17/8V). — [2] at góðu ‘in beauty’: Lit. ‘in goodness’ so, by extension ‘in its quality (of beauty)’ (cf. LP: góðr 10). — [3] vífa ‘women’: Both 325I and R702ˣ presumably had exemplars that used insular <v>, hence their spelling of this word with a <p>. — [6, 7] lætr hár falla á herðar sér ‘lets her hair fall onto her shoulders’: The saga prose notes that Ermingerðr hafði laust hárit, sem meyjum er títt at hafa, ok hafði lagt gullhlað um enni sér ‘had loose hair, as is the custom with unmarried women, and had put a gold band around her forehead’. See also Note to Árm Lv 3/7.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. 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.
  5. Finlay, Alison. 1995. ‘Skalds, Troubadours and Sagas’. SBVS 24, 105-53.
  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. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  9. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  10. Bibire, Paul. 1988. ‘The Poetry of Earl Rǫgnvaldr’s Court’. In Crawford 1988, 208-40.
  11. Cheyette, Frederic L. 2001. Ermengard of Narbonne and the World of the Troubadours. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  12. Caille, Jacqueline. 2005. Medieval Narbonne: A City at the Heart of the Troubadour World. Ed. Kathryn L. Reyerson. Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate.
  13. Orkn 1887 = Gudbrand Vigfusson 1887-94, I.
  14. Internal references
  15. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Ármóðr, 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. 622.
  16. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Øxarflokkr 6’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 146.
  17. Not published: do not cite (Egill Hfl 17V (Eg 50))
  18. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 43’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1152.

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