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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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RvHbreiðm Hl 56III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 56’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1065.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr ÞórarinssonHáttalykill

Morð óx (mildingr sparði)
mjǫk (lítt diguljǫkla);
lét ósa rǫf ræsir
rétt bjúg á her fljúga.
Fira sættir rak flótta
fúss trauðr vita lauðar;
þollr vas geirs, en gulli,
góðr, illr, kyni þjóðar.

Morð óx mjǫk; lítt sparði mildingr {diguljǫkla}; ræsir lét {bjúg rǫf ósa} fljúga rétt á her. {Sættir fira}, trauðr flótta, rak fúss {vita lauðar}; {þollr geirs} vas góðr kyni þjóðar, en illr gulli.

The battle intensified much; little did the generous one spare {crucible-glaciers} [SILVER]; the ruler made {bent amber of estuaries} [GOLD] fly straight at the army. {The reconciler of people} [JUST RULER], reluctant to flee, eager, pursued {the beacon of the furnace} [GOLD]; {the tree of the spear} [WARRIOR] was good to the kin of men, but bad to gold.

Mss: papp25ˣ(37r), R683ˣ(131v)

Readings: [1] sparði: sverði papp25ˣ, R683ˣ    [5] sættir: so R683ˣ, ‘fætir’ papp25ˣ;    flótta: so R683ˣ, flota papp25ˣ    [6] fúss: fús papp25ˣ, R683ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 523, Skj BI, 501, Skald I, 246; Hl 1941, 28, 80-1.

Context: As st. 55 above.

Notes: [All]: The antithesis consists of the following words: mjǫk ‘much’ : lítt ‘little’ (l. 2); rétt ‘straight’ : bjúg ‘bent’ (l. 4); fúss ‘eager’ : trauðr ‘reluctant’ (l. 6); góðr ‘good’ : illr ‘bad’ (l. 8). Again, if the adjectives qualify different nouns and the adverbs modify different verbs, the meaning of the clauses in this stanza is reversed (see Note to st. 55 [All]). — [1] sparði ‘spare’: Rugman again mistook the <p> in sparði ‘spared’ for insular <v> (see sts 18/6 and 44/9). — [6] fúss (m. nom. sg.) ‘eager’: The syntax requires the m. nom. sg. rather than f. nom. sg. or n. nom./acc. pl. (fús; both mss). It is not clear whether the omission of the final -s is an error or an orthographic simplification (see Hl 1941, 106). — [6] lauðar (f. gen. sg.) ‘of the furnace’: The word can denote either a smelting furnace for the purification of metal, or iron with holes to pull metal wires through (see Fritzner: lauð; Heggstad et al. 2008: lauð). — [7-8]: These lines must refer back to the first clause in st. 55, and l. 8 is a verbal repetition of st. 55/2. Here the second poet solves the riddle presented to him by the first poet. See Note to st. 55/1. For the motif ‘good to people, bad to gold’, see also Bragi Frag 6. — [7] gulli ‘to gold’: The [u] is ensured by the rhyme (skothending; but cf. golli ‘gold’ in st. 44/9).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  4. Hl 1941 = Jón Helgason and Anne Holtsmark, eds. 1941. Háttalykill enn forni. BA 1. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  5. Internal references
  6. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Fragments 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. 62.

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