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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Knútdr 5I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Knútsdrápa 5’ 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. 656.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonKnútsdrápa

text and translation

Lét * lǫnd lokit
liðs gramr saman
marbe*ðjum með
mǫrg nefbjǫrgum,
þars garðr fyr gnóð
grôum hjǫlmum lá
þornheims þrimu
Þundi at *undri.

Gramr liðs lét * mǫrg lǫnd með marbe*ðjum lokit saman nefbjǫrgum, þars garðr grôum hjǫlmum lá fyr gnóð at *undri {{{þrimu þorn}heims} Þundi}.
‘The lord of the army [Knútr] had many lands along the sea-coasts enclosed together by nose-guards, where a wall of grey helmets lay before the ship to the wonder of the Þundr <= Óðinn> of the home of the thorn of battle [(lit. ‘thorn-home of battle’) SWORD > SHIELD > WARRIOR = Óláfr].

notes and context

See Context to st. 3 above.

Ms. 972ˣ preserves a text of this stanza which seems to derive from the lost Uppsala ms. (*U) of ÓH. — Although it means that the term gramr ‘lord’ alludes to Óláfr in st. 4/2 but to Knútr in l. 2 of this stanza (and lið ‘fleet, army’ is also repeated from st. 3/6 with changed reference), the most likely interpretation of this stanza is that the first helmingr describes Knútr’s military defences in Denmark (or at least Zealand), and the second helmingr Óláfr’s consternation at encountering those defences. — [5-8]: This helmingr is extremely difficult to construe, and all eds suggest varying degrees of emendation (except for ÍF 29, which emends hjǫlmum to hjǫlmun in l. 6, perhaps unwittingly, but does not attempt a translation). (a) Kock’s proposed emendations are modest, and yield good sense, both in terms of the resultant kenning and the larger structure of the stanza (NN §§648, 2924; Skald). They are consequently adopted here, as also in ÓHLeg 1982, although the phrase garðr grôum hjǫlmum ‘wall (made) of grey helmets’ is perhaps slightly forced. (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B emends very heavily indeed, suggesting the following: þars garðr fyr gnóð | grô hjǫlmunlô, | þreifsk brims þruma | Þundar umb ǫndur ‘where the grey billow resounded before the ship, the thunder of Þundr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE] flourished around the ski of the surf [SHIP]’. Finnur marks garðr in his prose order (and in LP: garðr 8) as uninterpretable, and seems to see it as a corruption of a verb ‘resounded’; he also hesitates over the ship-kenning. In Þul Á 4/3III, Hjalmunlá or Hjǫlmunlá is a river-name, but here Finnur takes it to be a wave or billow.



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, 10. Knútsdrápa 5: AI, 249, BI, 233, Skald I, 121, NN §§648, 873, 2516B, 2924; Fsk 1902-3, 163 (ch. 27), ÍF 29, 185 (ch. 32); ÓHLeg 1922, 60, ÓHLeg 1982, 144-5; ÓH 1941, II, 1086,


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