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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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RvHbreiðm Hl 70III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 70’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1079.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr ÞórarinssonHáttalykill

Guðr vas, en grams niðr,
(gekk herr berjask)
flótta, þars fell drótt,
(fúss) trauðr, kvik, dauð.
Þótti þar ulfs ætt,
(ǫrva gerðisk hríð snǫr)
eigi vas fleins flaug,
full, svǫng, skǫmm (lǫng).

Guðr vas kvik, en {niðr grams} trauðr flótta; herr gekk fúss berjask, þars dauð drótt fell. Svǫng ætt ulfs þótti þar full; {snǫr hríð ǫrva} gerðisk lǫng; {flaug fleins} vas eigi skǫmm.

The battle was lively and {the kinsman of the lord} [= Knútr] reluctant to flee; the army went eager to fight where the dead retinue fell. The hungry family of the wolf seemed sated there; {the swift storm of arrows} [BATTLE] became long; {the flight of the spear} [BATTLE] was not short.

Mss: papp25ˣ(40r), R683ˣ(133r)

Readings: [1] en grams niðr: ‘en gramur grār … udr’ papp25ˣ, ‘en gram …’ R683ˣ    [2] gekk: ‘… udur feck’ R683ˣ    [4] fúss trauðr: fús trauð papp25ˣ, R683ˣ    [5] þar: þat papp25ˣ, R683ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 525-6, Skj BI, 505, Skald I, 248, NN §§1165, 2081, 2540C; Hl 1941, 32, 90.

Context: As st. 69 above, but only ll. 4 and 8 are alhnept ‘completely curtailed’. Lines 1, 3, 5-7 are hálfhneppt ‘half-curtailed’ or náhent ‘close-rhymed’ (SnSt Ht 77, 75) and l. 2 is stúfhent ‘stump-rhymed’ or náhent (Ht 74-5). See also sts 23-4, 29-30 and 49-50.

Notes: [All]: The antitheses occur in the following words: fúss ‘eager’ : trauðr ‘reluctant’; kvik ‘lively’ : dauð ‘dead’ (l. 4);  full ‘sated’ : svǫng ‘hungry’; skǫmm ‘short’ : lǫng ‘long’ (l. 8). Reassignment of the adjectives again results in a rather scathing satire (i.e. ‘and the kinsman of the lord eager to flee’, ll. 1, 3, 4; ‘the army went reluctant to fight’, ll. 2, 4; ‘the sated family of the wolf seemed hungry there’, ll. 5, 8; ‘the swift storm of arrows became short’, ll. 6, 8; ‘the flight of the spear was not long’, ll. 7, 8). See Note to st. 55 [All]. — [1-4]: Skj B and Skald follow the text of R683ˣ, and their reconstruction of the first helmingr is incorrect and will not be discussed here. — [1] niðr grams ‘the kinsman of the lord [= Knútr]’: This is Jón Helgason’s suggestion (Hl 1941). Rugman’s transcriptions (‘en gramur grār … udr’ papp25ˣ, ‘en gram … | …udur’ R683ˣ) show that the first word must have been abbreviated in his exemplar (the stem ‘grā’), but that he was uncertain of the ending (rendered as ‘-r’ in papp25ˣ and as ‘…’ in R683ˣ). He could only read with certainty the last two letters of the second word (‘dr’). — [4] fúss; trauðr ‘eager; reluctant’: Trauð and fús (so both mss) are both f. nom. sg. or n. nom./acc. pl. and they have been emended to fúss and trauðr (m. nom. sg.) because they qualify niðr (m. nom. sg.) ‘relative’ (l. 1) and herr (m. nom. sg.) ‘army’ (l. 2) respectively. For the possible spelling <s> for <ss> and the loss of final ‑r, see Notes to sts  5/2 and 56/6. — [5] þar ‘there’: The mss have þat ‘that’ which is clearly incorrect, and the emendation is in keeping with earlier eds. — [8] full; svǫng ‘sated; hungry’: Skj B construes the two antithetical adjectives as one cpd, full-svǫng ‘very hungry’, qualifying ætt ulfs ‘the family of the wolf’ (l. 5), which is at odds with the other antithetical constructions.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Hl 1941 = Jón Helgason and Anne Holtsmark, eds. 1941. Háttalykill enn forni. BA 1. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  6. Internal references
  7. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 71’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1182.
  8. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 77’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1188.

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