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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Erlfl 4I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson 4’ 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. 634.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonFlokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson

text and translation

Réð eigi grið, gýgjar,
geðstirðr konungs firða,
skers þótt skúrir þyrrit,
Skjalgs hefnir sér nefna.
En varðkeri virðir
víðbotn né kømr síðan
glyggs á gjalfri leygðan
geirs ofrhugi meiri.

{Geðstirðr hefnir Skjalgs} réð eigi nefna sér grið firða konungs, þótt {skúrir {skers gýgjar}} þyrrit. En meiri {virðir geirs}, ofrhugi, né kømr síðan á {víðbotn {varðkeri glyggs}}, leygðan gjalfri.
‘The tough-minded avenger of Skjálgr [= Erlingr] did not ask for quarter from the king’s men, even though the showers of the skerry of the axe [SHIELD > BATTLE] did not let up. And a greater appreciator of the spear [WARRIOR], over-bold one, will not come afterwards onto the wide base of the guarding-vessel of the storm [SKY > EARTH], washed by the sea.

notes and context

Erlingr defends himself valiantly without asking for quarter.

[5-8]: This helmingr has caused previous eds much difficulty, though the general sentiment, that Erlingr was unsurpassed in valour, is clear enough. (a) Skj B understands varð as the pret. of verða ‘become’ and emends virðir ‘appreciator, one who values’ to virði, a dat. sg. of comparison, and leygðan to lǫggðan ‘lapped, encircled’. The result is a rather convoluted sentence en varð meiri ofrhugi geirs virði né kømr síðan á gjalfri lǫggðan víðbotn glyggs keri, which he renders men der har ikke været og der vil aldrig herefter komme nogen modigere mand end krigeren på den havombruste jord ‘but there has not been and there will never hereafter come any braver man than the warrior onto the sea-lapped earth’.  However, the metrical stress on varð (l. 5) points to varðkeri being a cpd, and varð is not negated as the translation ikke ‘not’ would suggest. (b) Kock (NN §2196B) retains the cpd and provides a negative, but his solution depends on selecting the least convincing variant for virðir, varðat from Tóm, giving the translation he had previously arrived at in NN §640 by quite different means: På den havomslutna jorden | har ej kommit och ej kommer | hädanefter någon furste, | någon jälte, mera käck! ‘To the sea-encircled earth | has never come and will not come | henceforth any prince, | any hero, more valiant!’. (c) The present translation (largely following ÍF 27) avoids the convoluted syntax required to read both a past and a future perspective into the helmingr and assumes the priority of the future-oriented impossibility topos (impossibilia or adynaton) common in skaldic praise poetry; see Note to Hfr ErfÓl 24/1, 4.



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, 7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson 4: AI, 244-5, BI, 229, Skald I, 119, NN §§640, 2196B, 2480C; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 405, IV, 155-6, ÍF 27, 316, Hkr 1991, II, 483-4 (ÓHHkr ch. 176); ÓH 1941, I, 483 (ch. 172), Flat 1860-8, II, 309-10; Jón Skaptason 1983, 116, 262-4.


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