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.
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.
Mss: Flat(140vb), R702ˣ(50v) (Orkn)
Readings:  varð: varð hann Flat  vas (‘var’): er R702ˣ  Lítt: hitt R702ˣ  leirr: saurr R702ˣ; fellr: fell R702ˣ; af gauri: so R702ˣ, of geira Flat
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.
Notes: : 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. —  ‘miðhæfi’: This is not an ON word (and is duly not recorded in Fritzner, while LP paraphrases the saga explanation). Summaries of possible Gk expressions it could represent can be found in ÍF 34, 233-4 n. 4 and McDougall 1987-8, 219-20. These suggestions depend of course on the location of Imbólum (see Note to l. 8 below) and whether the language spoken there was Gk. CVC suggests an expression that means ‘go away’, while Sigfús Blöndal (1978, 155-6) advocates a suggestion that it means ‘do not cross’, which may be relevant to Erlingr’s situation on the gangplank, but is less likely for the more general custom. —  mágr þengils ‘the in-law of the prince [= Erlingr]’: Erlingr was married to Kristín, the daughter of King Sigurðr jórsalafari Magnússon. —  fellr ‘falls’: If the saga-context is correct that Rǫgnvaldr composed this st. the following morning, then R702ˣ’s variant fell ‘fell’ is to be preferred. —  í Imbólum ‘in Imbólum’: Suggestions for where this was include Ampipholis in Macedonia and the Isle of Imbros in the Dardanelles (ÍF 34, 233 n. 2). McDougall (1987-8, 228 n. 38) concludes that the most likely place is Neochori, the harbour of Ampipholis. Meissner (1925, 183-4) did not think it was a p. n., though the author of Orkn, at any rate, clearly thought it was a town by this name (ÍF 34, 233). He also interpreted it as a nom. form, although in the st. it appears to have a dat. pl. ending.
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