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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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RvHbreiðm Hl 17III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 17’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1024.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr ÞórarinssonHáttalykill

text and translation

Bjǫrn ǫrn bræddi; fjǫrnis
beit reit firum hneitir;
bauðsk — rauðsk brynju váði
bjǫrg mǫrg frekum vargi.
Ypt lypt átti at skipta
egg legg í tvau seggja;
hrátt brátt hafði at slíta
hrafn tafn af því jafnan.

Bjǫrn bræddi ǫrn; hneitir beit {reit fjǫrnis} firum; mǫrg bjǫrg bauðsk frekum vargi; {váði brynju} rauðsk. Ypt, lypt egg átti at skipta legg seggja í tvau; hrafn hafði jafnan hrátt tafn at slíta brátt af því.
‘Bjǫrn fed the eagle; the sword bit men’s land of the helmet [HEAD]; much nourishment was offered to the greedy wolf; the danger of the byrnie [SWORD] was reddened. The drawn, uplifted edge divided men’s legs in two; the raven always had raw food to tear quickly because of that.

notes and context

The metre is called inn dýri háttr (‘hinn Dijri hattʀ’) ‘the ornate form’ (cf. SnSt Ht 37). It is a variant of dróttkvætt, not attested outside the two claves metricae, in which all lines have three internal rhymes in positions 1, 2 and 5. The even lines have three aðalhendingar, and the odd lines two aðalhendingar in positions 1 and 3, which can form either aðalhending or skothending with the syllable in position 5 (see Hl 1941, 129). In Ht 37, all internal rhymes are aðalhendingar.

Rugman’s later corrections in R683ˣ represent attempts to create aðalhendingar and must be disregarded. — The hero commemorated is Bjǫrn járnsíða ‘Ironside’, another of Ragnarr loðbrók’s sons (see sts 11-16). — [3-4]: (a) In the present edn, which follows Hl 1941, váði ‘danger’ (l. 3) is taken as the base-word in a kenning for ‘sword’ (váði brynju ‘danger of the byrnie’), which functions as the subject in a passive construction with rauðsk ‘was reddened’ (l. 3). Bauðsk ‘was offered’ is taken as the verb in a passive construction with mǫrg bjǫrg (f. nom. sg.) ‘much nourishment’ as the subject. (b) The texts in Skj B and Skald are based on Rugman’s later corrections in R683ˣ and they provide the following reading: brátt, þrátt, brynju neytir | barg margfrekum vargi. Skj B places the adv. þrátt ‘often, persistently’ (l. 3) in the first clause of the helmingr (bræddi þrátt ‘fed often’) and the second adv. brátt ‘quickly’ (l. 3) in the second clause (beit brátt ‘bit quickly’. Kock (NN §1159) objected to that tortuous syntax and construed brátt, þrátt, brynju neytir barg margfrekum vargi, translated as snabbt, beständigt brynjebärarn räddade den glupske varj ‘quickly, stubbornly, the byrnie’s wearer (i.e. warrior) saved the greedy wolf’.



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 9a: AI, 515, BI, 491, Skald I, 241, NN §1159; Hl 1941, 33, 53-4.


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