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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Berv 15II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Bersǫglisvísur 15’ 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. 27.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonBersǫglisvísur

Syni Ôláfs biðk snúðar
— síð kveða aptans bíða
óframs sǫk; meðal okkar
allts hôligt — svá mála.
Erum, Magnús, vér vægnir;
vildak með þér mildum
— Haralds varðar þú hjǫrvi
haukey — lifa ok deyja.

Svá biðk snúðar mála {syni Ôláfs}; kveða óframs sǫk bíða síð aptans; allts hôligt meðal okkar. Magnús, vér erum vægnir; vildak lifa ok deyja með mildum þér; þú varðar {haukey Haralds} hjǫrvi.

Thus I ask for a quick change in the affairs {of Óláfr’s son} [= Magnús]; they say the cautious man’s business must wait until late in the evening; all is splendid between us two. Magnús, we are [I am] well disposed; I would wish to live and die with you, generous one; you protect {Haraldr’s hawk-isle} [= Norway] with the sword.

Mss: F(38vb); 325XI 3(1v), Flat(190ra) (Flat); 310(80) (ÓTOdd, ll. 7-8)

Readings: [1] Syni: so all others, ‘Seyni’ F;    snúðar: segja 325XI 3, Flat    [4] allts (‘allt er’): allt 325XI 3, Flat;    hô‑: hag‑ Flat;    mála: máli 325XI 3, Flat    [6] þér: om. 325XI 3, Flat    [7] Haralds: ‘Har’ 310    [8] haukey lifa ok: ‘heyk ey lifa ok’ 325XI 3, ‘heyk eilífa ath’ Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 256, Skj BI, 238-9, Skald I, 124, NN §655; F 1871, 177 (Mgóð); Louis-Jensen 1970b, 150, Flat 1860-8, III, 269 (MH), Mork 1928-32, 29-30, Andersson and Gade 2000, 108, 468 (MH); ÓTOdd 1932, 192 (ch. 65); Jón Skaptason 1983, 155, 297-8.

Context: In ÓTOdd, the last two ll. are mistakenly attributed to Jarl Sigvaldi Strút-Haraldsson. The kenning ‘Haraldr’s hawk-isle’ is taken as a term for Norway as the tributary of the Dan. king Haraldr blátǫnn ‘Blue-tooth’ Gormsson.

Notes: [All]: F only cites this st. of Berv, and it is said to conclude the poem: er þessi síðazt ‘this one is the last’. — [1]: The l. lacks internal rhyme. — [7, 8] haukey Haralds ‘Haraldr’s hawk-isle [= Norway]’: The meaning of this phrase is not immediately transparent, although there can be no doubt that it denotes the country of Norway. Munch (1853, 101), following the prose in ÓTOdd, suggested that it referred to the annual taxes due to the Dan. king Haraldr blátǫnn ‘Blue-tooth’ from the Norw. Hákon jarl Sigurðarson (20 hawks; see Theodoricus, MHN 11; McDougall and McDougall 1998, 62 n. 45). Finnur Jónsson (LP: haukey) connects the first part of the cpd haukey with an adj. haukr ‘splendid’ (LP: 2. haukr adj.), and gives the translation ‘splendid island’ (i.e. ‘Norway’), tacitly equating Haraldr with the Norw. king Haraldr hárfagri rather than with Haraldr blátǫnn. Kock (NN §655) accepts that identification, but he rejects the translation ‘splendid island’ and suggests that ‘hawk-isle’ referred to the lofty mountainous regions of Norway (‘where hawks perch’; see also Steinn Óldr 6/1). That interpretation seems preferable, because the reference to Haraldr blátǫnn makes no sense in the present context, and the existence of an adj. haukr ‘splendid’ is tenuous at best. It is interesting, however, that Sigvatr refers to Norway as an ‘island’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. ÓTOdd 1932 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1932. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar af Oddr Snorrason munk. Copenhagen: Gad.
  8. MHN = Storm, Gustav, ed. 1880. Monumenta historica Norvegiæ: Latinske kildeskrifter til Norges historie i middelalderen. Kristiania (Oslo): Brøgger. Rpt. 1973. Oslo: Aas & Wahl.
  9. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  10. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. McDougall, David and Ian McDougall, trans. 1998. Theodoricus monachus. Historia de antiquitate regum norwagiensium: An Account of the Ancient History of the Norwegian Kings. Viking Society for Northern Research Text Series 11. University College, London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  14. Munch, P. A., ed. 1853. Saga Olafs konungs Tryggvasunar: Kong Olaf Tryggvesøns saga forfattet paa latin henimod slutningen af det tolfte aarhundrede af Odd Snorresøn. Christiania (Oslo): Brøgger & Christie.
  15. Theodoricus = Theodrici monachi historia de antiquitate regum Norwagiensium. In MHN 1-68.
  16. Internal references
  17. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar by Oddr Snorrason (ÓTOdd)’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. clxxiv-clxxv.
  18. Not published: do not cite (MHII)
  19. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Bersǫglisvísur’ 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. 11-30.
  20. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Steinn Herdísarson, Óláfsdrápa 6’ 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. 372-3.

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