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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Berv 16II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Bersǫglisvísur 16’ 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. 28-9.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonBersǫglisvísur

Ôláfr lét mik jǫfra
órýrr framask dýrða
— urðu drjúg ins digra
dróttins þing — með hringum.
Goll bark jafnt of allan
aldr hans, ok vask sjaldan
hryggr, á hvárritveggju
hendi flotna sendis.

Ôláfr, órýrr dýrða jǫfra, lét mik framask með hringum; þing ins digra dróttins urðu drjúg. Of allan aldr hans bark jafnt goll {sendis flotna} á hvárritveggju hendi, ok vask sjaldan hryggr.

Óláfr, not decreasing in princely honours, let me be promoted with rings; the belongings of the stout lord proved lasting. Throughout his entire lifetime, I constantly bore the gold {of the sender of sea-warriors} [KING] on both arms, and I was seldom sad.

Mss: 325XI 3(1v), Flat(190ra) (Flat)

Readings: [2] dýrða: so Flat, dýrðan 325XI 3    [3] drjúg: so Flat, ‘dryg’ 325XI 3    [6] aldr hans ok vask: aldr hann ok verk 325XI 3, aldr ok herverk Flat    [7] hryggr: hrygg both;    hvárritveggju: hvrutveggju Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 256, Skj BI, 238, Skald I, 123, NN §§2477, 3218; Louis-Jensen 1970b, 150, Flat 1860-8, III, 269, Mork 1928-32, 30, Andersson and Gade 2000, 108, 468 (MH); Jón Skaptason 1983, 153, 296.

Notes: [1, 2] órýrr dýrða jǫfra ‘not decreasing in princely honours’: This interpretation is debated. Skj B reads órýrr jǫfra ‘splendid among lords’ and takes dýrða ‘honours’ (f. gen. pl.) with the next cl.: þing ins digra dróttins urðu drjúg dýrða ‘the encounters with the stout king became rich in honours’ (translation omitted in Skj B; see LP: drjúgr; þing 3). The translation ‘splendid among lords’ (ypperlig blandt fyrster) is inaccurate, because órýrr means ‘not decreasing, not dwindling’ (see NN §2477). — [3-4] ins digra dróttins (m. gen. sg.) ‘of the stout lord’: Óláfr Haraldsson’s nickname was inn digri ‘the Stout’. — [4] þing (n. nom. pl.) ‘belongings’: The translation follows NN §2477 (for the meaning ‘belongings, loose chattels’, see Fritzner: þing 5). Sigvatr deftly juxtaposes the two adjectives órýrr ‘not decreasing’ (l. 2) and drjúgr ‘lasting’ (l. 3), describing Óláfr’s honour and his gifts. — [4] með hringum ‘with rings’: Hringr can refer either to ‘rings’ or to ‘swords’ (pars pro toto, because these could have rings on their hilts; see Note to st. 1/7 above), and, in addition, the prepositional phrase með hringum can be translated as ‘entirely’ (lit. ‘from stem to stern’; see Note to Anon Nkt 28/2). Louis-Jensen (1970c, 210) argues that framask með hringum ‘promoted with rings’ is unattested and opts for the latter interpretation. While it is true that a dat. without með ‘with’ occurs with the active refl. fremjask ‘to promote oneself’ (the m. v. framask is a hap. leg.; see LP: frama; Fritzner: frama), the present translation, which follows Skj B and Skald, is preferable from a contextual point of view. — [5-8]: The interpretation of the second helmingr is conjectural. The present reading, which follows 325XI 3 with minor emendations, is that of Louis-Jensen (1970c, 210). — [6-7] ok vask sjaldan hryggr ‘and I was seldom sad’: Flat reads ok hrygg herverk sjaldan, which Skj B and Skald render as ‘and seldom (did I carry) sad [or: harmful] weapons’. Herverk is otherwise unattested and it is difficult to see how it can be construed as ‘weapons’ (verk means ‘deed, work, labour’; see Fritzner: verk; ModIcel. hervirki, ModNorw. hærverk ‘destruction’). Moreover, such an interpretation is at odds with Sigvatr’s boasts of warlike exploits in the preceding sts (e.g. st. 3 above).


  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. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Andersson, Theodore M. and Kari Ellen Gade, trans. 2000. Morkinskinna: The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030-1157). Islandica 51. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  7. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  8. 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.
  9. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  10. Jón Skaptason. 1983. ‘Material for an Edition and Translation of the Poems of Sigvat Þórðarson, skáld’. Ph.D. thesis. State University of New York at Stony Brook. DAI 44: 3681A.
  11. Louis-Jensen, Jonna. 1970b. ‘Et forlæg til Flateyjarbók? Fragmenterne AM 325 IV ß og XI, 3 4to’. Opuscula 4. BA 30, 141-58. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  12. Louis-Jensen, Jonna. 1970c. ‘En strofe af Bersǫglisvísur’. Opuscula 4. BA 30, 208-10. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  13. Internal references
  14. Not published: do not cite (MHII)
  15. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Anonymous Poems, Nóregs konungatal 28’ 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, p. 779.

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