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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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RvHbreiðm Hl 23III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 23’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1031.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr ÞórarinssonHáttalykill

text and translation

Sǫgu kannk Svipdags;
saga es frá gram …;
es mér sagt sǫguligt
frá sǫgu þeiri.
Auðlingr gerðisk ótrauðr
auðbjóðr þjóðum;
auðar lét auðbrjótr
auðit, þeims sverð rauð.

Kannk sǫgu Svipdags; saga es frá gram …; es mér sagt sǫguligt frá þeiri sǫgu. Auðlingr gerðisk ótrauðr auðbjóðr þjóðum; {auðbrjótr} lét auðar auðit, þeims rauð sverð.
‘I know Svipdagr’s story; there is a story about the hero …; I am told story-worthy [things] about that story. The lord became an unstinting wealth-giver to the people; the wealth-breaker [GENEROUS MAN] let wealth be bestowed on the one who reddened the sword.

notes and context

The metre is not named (titulus deest ‘the heading is missing’), and the lines are irregular. Some have counterparts in SnSt Ht and could have been systematised into separate metres by Snorri. Lines 1, 5, 7-8 are structured as hálfhnept ‘half-curtailed’ (Ht 77) and l. 6 as stúfhent ‘stump-rhymed’ (Ht 74) or náhent ‘close-rhymed’ (Ht 75) (see also sts 29-30 below). Lines 1 and 7 could also be construed as náhent. Line 4 is fornyrðislag (Type C2). The repetition of the internal rhyme extending throughout one helmingr is not a feature of those metres, however, but has a closer correspondence in Ht 48 (klifat ‘repeated’).

For the repetition of similar lexical rhymes in Medieval Latin poetry, see Hl 1941, 127-8. — Because of the irregular metre, it is difficult to speculate about the missing words, but the stanza tells the story of Svipdagr, one of the champions of the Swedish king Hugleikr, who participated in a battle at Fýrisvellir, Uppsala, Sweden, where he was captured by King Haki (so ÍF 26, 43). According to Saxo (Saxo 2005, I, 6, 5, 11-5, 12, pp. 384-7), Hugleikr was king of Ireland, and the battle took place there. Neither source mentions Svipdagr’s wealth and generosity. — [1-2]: Skj B and Skald emend sǫgu (f. oblique sg.) ‘story’ in l. 1 to segja ‘to say’ and saga (f. nom. sg.) ‘story’ in l. 2 to sǫgu (f. acc. sg.) ‘story’ as the object of segja: ‘I can tell the story of Svipdagr’. Kock (Skald) fills in the missing part of l. 2 with es lǫgð ‘is laid’, i.e., ‘which is composed about the hero’ (es frá gram es lǫgð). Such a meaning of the verb leggja is unattested (see Fritzner: leggja). Jón Helgason (Hl 1941) offers the following reading: sǫgu kann ek Svipdags | saga er frá grams hag ‘I know Svipdagr’s story | there is a story about the hero’s situation’. — [3]: The line has no metrical equivalents, but neither does Kock’s (NN §2540A) and Jón Helgason’s (Hl 1941) sagt er mér sǫguligt unless it is taken as hálfhnept with three internal rhymes. — [4]: The line is too short (fornyrðislag, Type C2) and does not contain the expected internal rhyme. Rugman’s copies do not indicate that anything is missing between ll. 4 and 5. Kock suggests the reading sǫgu frá þeiri hagt ‘a story from it (i.e. Svipdagr’s story) skilfully’. Jón Helgason (Hl 1941) adds of lǫg ‘from across the sea’ (frá sǫgu þeiri of lǫg ‘about that story from across the sea’), which, according to him, indicates that Hl was composed in Iceland or in Orkney (Hl 1941). Neither suggestion is satisfactory from a metrical point of view. — [7]: Jón Helgason (Hl 1941) regards lét ‘let’ and ‑brjótr ‘breaker’ as the rhyming syllables (rather than auð-). Because the metre is so irregular, this cannot be ascertained. The proposition is unlikely, however, in view of the relative consistency with which the auð-rhymes occur in the second helmingr, and sts 23-4 are too fragmentary to determine whether the second rhyme as a rule fell on the ultimate rather than on the penultimate syllable in the odd lines.


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 og Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 12a: AI, 516, BI, 492, Skald I, 241, NN §2540A; Hl 1941, 33, 58-9.


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