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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Nesv 11I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Nesjavísur 11’ 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. 572.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonNesjavísur

Þess getk meir, at missi
morðôrr, sás fór norðan,
harða margr í hǫrðum
heimkvômu styr þeima.
Sǫkk af sunda blakki
sunnu mǫrg til grunna
(satts, at Sveini mœttum)
samknúta (vér úti).

Getk þess meir, at {harða margr morðôrr}, sás fór norðan, missi heimkvômu í þeima hǫrðum styr. Mǫrg samknúta sunnu sǫkk af {blakki sunda} til grunna; satts, at vér mœttum Sveini úti.

I declare this, moreover, that {very many a battle-envoy} [WARRIOR], who travelled from the north, will be missing out on his homecoming in that hard battle. Many a one joined with the sun sank from {the dark steed of the sounds} [SHIP] to the bottom; true it is, that we met Sveinn offshore.

Mss: (254r), papp18ˣ(76v) (Hkr); Holm2(13r), R686ˣ(26v), 972ˣ(90va), J1ˣ(160v), J2ˣ(136v), 325VI(11va), 75a(2ra-b), 73aˣ(36r-v), 78aˣ(33v), 68(12r-v), 61(85ra), Holm4(5rb), 325V(16vb-17ra), 325VII(5v), Bb(135vb), Flat(83vb), Tóm(102v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Þess: þat var þess Bb;    getk (‘get ec’): gekk ek Holm2;    meir: ‘me[…]’ R686ˣ, meir added in margin 325VI;    at: om. 325VI    [2] morðôrr: ‘morð[...]’ Holm2, morðit 78aˣ;    fór: kom Holm2, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, Holm4;    norðan: norðar Holm2, ‘niorðan’ J1ˣ    [3] harða: harðla 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ;    margr: ‘ma[…]gr’ R686ˣ, magr 325V;    hǫrðum: hǫrgum R686ˣ    [4] þeima: þenna Bb    [5] sunda: so R686ˣ, 972ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 68, 61, Holm4, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, syndi Kˣ, Holm2, ‘sinþi’ papp18ˣ, sundi Bb;    blakki: blakk 325V    [6] sunnu: sunnum Holm2, 325V, Bb, Tóm;    mǫrg: ‘morgt’ Holm2, margr R686ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, Bb    [7] satts (‘satt er’): satt var 972ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 68, 61, satt 75a, ‘sartt er’ Bb;    at: om. Holm4;    mœttum: máttum Holm2, R686ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ, 325V, 325VII, Tóm, máttu Flat    [8] samknúta (‘sám knuta’): ‘sa[…]vta’ Holm2, sann knúta 972ˣ, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm;    vér: var papp18ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 231, Skj BI, 219, Skald I, 114, NN §§622, 1860; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 76, IV, 124-5, ÍF 27, 68-9 (ÓHHkr ch. 52); Fms 4, 104, Fms 12, 80-1, ÓH 1941, I, 98 (ch. 41), Flat 1860-8, II, 46; CPB II, 128, Poole 2005d, 176-7.

Context: The stanza follows a lengthy account of the battle and its aftermath. Sigvatr is said to have spoken this, and sts 12 and 14, during the battle.

Notes: [1] getk þess meir ‘I declare this, moreover’: The clause demarcation here follows Kock (NN §1860). Meir ‘more’ could alternatively qualify missi ‘will be missing’ (so Skj B). — [1] missi ‘will be missing out on’: ÓH-Hkr appears to have interpreted the pres. subj. form missi as indicating that st. 11 was composed before the full outcome of the battle was known (see Context above). Fsk by contrast states explicitly that all the stanzas it includes belong within Nesv (see Introduction). — [6, 8] mǫrg samknúta sunnu ‘many a one joined with the sun’: The phrase samknúta sunnu, although kenning-like, remains mysterious, and none of the available solutions is wholly satisfactory. (a) Just conceivably, Sigvatr is stigmatising the Trøndelag faction as heathen sun-worshippers (‘adherents of the sun’): on sun-worship in Norway, see Jón Hnefill Aðalsteinsson (1997, 126-9). The tenacity of Trøndelag and contiguous regions in maintaining pre-Christian worship under the Hlaðajarlar was notorious. The f. gender of samknúta would be unusual, and presumably insulting, in reference to warriors. (b) Finnur Jónsson’s tentative ‘knuckle-bone of the sun of the sea [GOLD > MAN (?)]’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; also ÍF 27), is unconvincing. (c) Hjelmqvist (1913, 7), followed by Kock (NN §622), emends sunnu to sunnan, linking this with the variant reading margr so as to result in mången söderifrå ‘many from the south’; in this analysis the cpd samknúta is used substantively, to mean ‘[ships] bound together’ (1913, 19). This produces good sense but the presumed corruption of sunnan would be difficult to account for.


  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Hjelmqvist, Theodor. 1913. Samknúta. Ett bidrag till tolkningen of Nesjavísur 10: 5-8. Lund: Gleerup.
  12. Jón Hnefill Aðalsteinsson. 1997. Blót í norrænum sið. Rýnt í forn trúarbrögð með þjóðfræðilegri aðferð. Reykjavík: Háskólaútgáfan Félagsvísindastofnun.
  13. Poole, Russell. 2005d. ‘The Nesjavísur of Sigvatr Þórðarson’. MS 15, 171-98.
  14. Internal references
  15. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  16. 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.
  17. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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. clix-clxi.
  18. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)
  19. Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Nesjavísur’ 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. 555.

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