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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 17II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 17’ 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. 595-6.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

Vín bar hvít in hreina
hlað-Nipt alindriptar;
sýndisk fegrð, es fundumsk,
ferðum Ermingerðar.
Nú tegask ǫld með eldi
eljunfrœkn at sœkja
— ríða snǫrp ór slíðrum
sverð — kastala ferðir.

Hvít bar {in hreina hlað-Nipt {alindriptar}} vín; fegrð Ermingerðar sýndisk ferðum, es fundumsk. Nú tegask eljunfrœkn ǫld at sœkja ferðir kastala með eldi; snǫrp sverð ríða ór slíðrum.

White, {the pure headband-Nipt <norn> of forearm-snow}} [GOLD > WOMAN] served wine; the beauty of Ermingerðr was shown to men when we met. Now staunchly bold people prove ready to attack the men of the castle with fire; sharp swords swing out from scabbards.

Mss: Flat(140rb), R702ˣ(47r) (Orkn)

Readings: [1] hvít: hvítt R702ˣ    [2] alin‑ (‘á lín’): so R702ˣ, Skǫgul Flat;    ‑driptar: so R702ˣ, ‘drifta’ Flat    [3] fegrð: so R702ˣ, fǫgr Flat;    fundumsk: fundusk R702ˣ    [4] ferðum: ferðir R702ˣ    [6] eljun‑: so R702ˣ, ‘eikum’ Flat;    ‑frœkn: so R702ˣ, fremr Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 509, Skj BI, 482-3, Skald I, 237, NN §§976, 2065; Flat 1860-8, II, 481, Orkn 1887, 165, Orkn 1913-16, 239-40, ÍF 34, 215-16 (ch. 87), Bibire 1988, 233.

Context: After a lengthy siege of a castle in Galicia, Rǫgnvaldr orders the attack on the tenth day of Christmas. His men place firewood all around the castle and set it alight once they are ready to attack.

Notes: [All]: This episode took place during Christmas 1151. Having arrived in Galicia, the crusaders decided to spend the festive season there. Finding it difficult to buy supplies, they made an agreement with the local inhabitants to buy supplies from them in exchange for driving out the oppressive lord Guðifreyr and his men from his castle. The episode is similar to one involving Sigurðr jórsalafari, also in Galicia (MsonaHkr ch. 4). — [1] hvít ‘white’: Kock (NN §976) prefers to take the reading of R702ˣ and construe this adj. with vín ‘wine’ though such a focus on the colour of wine is not found elsewhere in poetry. Rǫgnvaldr uses the same adj. of Ermingerðr in st. 21/5. — [2] hlað-Nipt alindriptar ‘headband-Nipt <norn> of forearm-snow [GOLD > WOMAN]’: A hlað could be either a ‘headband’ or a ‘decorative border on clothing’ (LP). Nipt is not a frequently-occurring word, mostly used to mean either ‘sister’ or ‘niece’ (LP), though etymologically it is a precise term for ‘sister’s daughter’ (AEW). None of these is particularly relevant in this context, and it may be better to take it as the name of a norn (attested in Þul Ásynja 5/3III) giving ‘the norn of the golden headband’; indeed Ermingerðr is described in the saga-prose as wearing a golden headband (cf. Note to st. 15/6-7). Alindript ‘forearm-snow’ is usually taken to mean ‘silver’ (LP; Meissner 224; NN §976; ÍF 34; Bibire 1988) and could indeed be taken so here. However, woman-kennings are normally constructed with a word or kenning for ‘gold’, rather than ‘silver’, as determinant (Meissner 413-14; cf. st. 4/4; associations of women with gold hair and headdresses are also found in sts 6, 15). Although ‘snow’ does seem to suggest ‘silver’ rather than ‘gold’, there is evidence that it could be used in ‘gold’-kennings in Rǫgnvaldr’s and subsequent poetry. Thus there are similar kennings in RvHbreiðm Hl 8/3III dript alnar ‘snow-drift of the fore-arm’ and SnSt Ht 43/3-4III glaðdript Grotta ‘joyful snow-drift of Grotti’. Meissner 224 translates both of these as Silber ‘silver’, however the former is about Gunnar Gjúkason and the Niflung treasure, and this and the reference to Grotti in the latter suggest that they are in fact gold-kennings. While Snorri makes a clear distinction between red gold and white silver (SnE 1998, I, 61), the Litla Skálda treatise allows for the possibility of constructing gold-kennings with words meaning ‘snow’ or ‘ice’ (SnE 1931, 256), particularly in relation to the hand. Thus, Rǫgnvaldr’s woman-kenning must be understood to include a gold-kenning as was traditional, though the gold-kenning itself is not traditional. — [4] Ermingerðar ‘of Ermingerðr’: See Note to st. 15 [All].


  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  5. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  9. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  10. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  11. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  12. Bibire, Paul. 1988. ‘The Poetry of Earl Rǫgnvaldr’s Court’. In Crawford 1988, 208-40.
  13. Orkn 1887 = Gudbrand Vigfusson 1887-94, I.
  14. Internal references
  15. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Ásynja heiti 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 771.
  16. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1016.
  17. 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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