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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 23I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 23’ 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, p. 692.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonErfidrápa Óláfs helga

text and translation

Lýgk, nema Ôleifr eigi
ýs sem kykvir tívar
(gœðik helzt í hróðri)
hárvǫxt (konungs ôru).
Enn helzk, þeims sýn seldi,
svǫrðr, * es óx, í Gǫrðum,
(hann fekk læs) af ljósum
(lausn) Valdamar, hausi.

Lýgk, nema Ôleifr eigi hárvǫxt sem {kykvir tívar ýs}; gœðik helzt ôru konungs í hróðri. Enn helzk svǫrðr, * es óx af ljósum hausi, þeims seldi sýn Valdamar í Gǫrðum; hann fekk lausn læs.
‘I lie unless Óláfr has hair-growth like living gods of the yew-bow [WARRIORS]; I benefit especially the servants of the king in [this] poem. There is still the hair that grew on the bright skull of the one who granted sight to Vladimir in Russia [Óláfr]; he got relief from disability.

notes and context

Miraculous signs of sanctity are witnessed around Óláfr’s body, which is enshrined in Niðaróss (Trondheim). Bishop Grímkell preserves Óláfr’s relics, cutting his hair and nails, which continue to grow as if he were alive.

On the continued growth of Óláfr’s hair (and nails) after death, see also Þloft Glækv 5. This conception contrasts with the references to the cutting of hair in sts 4, 6 and 14, which are associated with Óláfr punishing his enemies. — [5]: Helzk: seldi provides an aðalhending where only a skothending is required. — [5-8]: (a) The syntax of this helmingr is a modified version of that in ÍF 27, itself a modified version of that proposed in Hkr 1893-1901, IV and Skj B. (b) Kock (NN §667) rejects Finnur Jónsson’s convoluted syntax, but his solution makes little sense, involving the slightly absurd readings svǫrðr es óx í Gǫrðum ‘the hair that grew in Russia’ and hann fekk læs lausn af ljósum hausi ‘he got relief from disability from the bright skull’.



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: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 23: AI, 263-4, BI, 244, Skald I, 126, NN §667; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 519, IV, 174, ÍF 27, 406, Hkr 1991, II, 549 (ÓHHkr ch. 245); ÓH 1941, I, 603 (ch. 245), Flat 1860-8, II, 376; Jón Skaptason 1983, 178, 309.


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