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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 30II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 30’ 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. 606-7.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

text and translation

Villat vinr minn kalla
— varð allr í drit falla —
— nær vas í því œrin
ógæfa — ‘miðhæfi’.
Lítt hykk, at þá þœtti
þengils mágr, es rengðisk,
— leirr fellr grár af gauri —
góligr, í Imbólum.

Vinr minn villat kalla ‘miðhæfi’; varð allr falla í drit; vas í því nær œrin ógæfa. Hykk, at mágr þengils þœtti lítt góligr þá, es rengðisk í Imbólum; grár leirr fellr af gauri.
‘My friend does not wish to call out ‘miðhæfi’; he fell right down in the shit; there was in that nearly enough bad luck. I think that the in-law of the prince [= Erlingr] seemed not very attractive then, when he mis-stepped in Imbólum; grey mud falls from the ruffian.

notes and context

In a place called Imbólum, it was apparently the custom for people to shout miðhæfi when they wanted someone coming in the opposite direction in a narrow place to give way. On one occasion when he was very drunk, Erlingr skakki failed to give way to some townspeople shouting this on a gangplank and fell into the mud of the harbour. The st. is Rǫgnvaldr’s response when he heard about this the next day.

[3]: This l. lacks the first alliterating stave. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) adopts the variant er ‘is’ (for vas ‘was’) from R702ˣ, but this is not metrically satisfactory, as noted by Kock (NN §2068) who prefers to take the same ms.’s ‘no᷎r’ as an error for ‘uo᷎r’, i.e. (v)ór ‘our’. While this would solve the metrical problem, it does not explain the Flat variant (nær ‘nearly’), nor is it at all clear why Rǫgnvaldr would see Erlingr’s fall as his own or their joint misfortune. It is probably best to accept that the l. (or possibly even the whole couplet) has been corrupted from an original which cannot now be reconstructed.



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 30: AI, 511, BI, 486, Skald I, 238, NN §2068; Flat 1860-8, II, 488, Orkn 1887, 177, Orkn 1913-16, 257, ÍF 34, 234 (ch. 88), Bibire 1988, 238.


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