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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

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].

Mss: FskBˣ(46v) (Fsk); DG8(92r) (ÓHLeg); 972ˣ(367va) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Lét *: lét um FskBˣ, DG8;    lǫnd: land DG8, 972ˣ    [2] liðs: lið 972ˣ    [3] ‑be*ðjum: ‘berðiom’ FskBˣ, biðjum DG8, 972ˣ    [6] grôum: gráni DG8, 972ˣ    [8] Þundi at *undri: ‘þyndr of fyndri’ FskBˣ, ‘þyrndrof ryndri’ DG8, ‘þirn drof eyndri’ 972ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 249, Skj 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,

Context: See Context to st. 3 above.

Notes: [All]: Ms. 972ˣ preserves a text of this stanza which seems to derive from the lost Uppsala ms. (*U) of ÓH. — [All]: 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. — [1] lét * ‘had’: Lét um in the mss is unmetrical and the prep. um (or normalised of) ‘around’ (?) would be redundant in the helmingr. Um is therefore omitted here, as in Skj B and Skald. — [2] liðs ‘of the army’: Skj B suggests liðs qualifies nefbjǫrgum rather than gramr, hence ‘by the army’s nose-guards’; this is queried by Kock (NN §873). — [3] marbe*ðjum ‘the sea-coasts’: Literally ‘sea-beds’, but here more probably the sea-coasts (cf. LP: marbeðr). The <r> in the FskBˣ reading is clearly a scribal error. — [4] nefbjǫrgum ‘by nose-guards’: Hence, by pars pro toto, helmets, or helmeted warriors. — [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. — [5] gnóð ‘the ship’: Gnóð is recorded in various fornaldarsögur as the name of a ship owned by the legendary Gnóðar-Ásmundr (see SnE 1998, II, 464); it also occurs in Anon Mhkv 8/5III and in Þul Skipa 3/1III. As LP: Gnóð notes, the length of the vowel is uncertain. LP, Skj B and Skald treat it as long, but SnE 1998 as short. — [7] þrimu þornheims ‘of the home of the thorn of battle [(lit. ‘thorn-home of battle’) SWORD > SHIELD]’: In NN §648 Kock takes ‘the home of the sword’ to be the sheath, but on reconsideration in NN §2924 suggests rather it is the shield.


  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. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  7. ÓHLeg 1982 = Heinrichs, Anne et al., eds and trans. 1982. Olafs saga hins helga: Die ‘Legendarische Saga’ über Olaf den Heiligen (Hs. Delagard. saml. nr. 8II). Heidelberg: Winter.
  8. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  10. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  11. ÓHLeg 1922 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert, ed. 1922. Olafs saga hins helga efter pergamenthåndskrift i Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, Delagardieske samling nr. 8II. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 47. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  12. Internal references
  13. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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. clxxvi-clxxix.
  14. Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1222.
  15. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Á heiti 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 845.
  16. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Skipa heiti 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 865.

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