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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Lv 3I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Lausavísur 3’ 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. 788.

Óttarr svartiLausavísur


Ótt Lv 3 is preserved in ÓHLeg (DG8, used as main ms. here), where it is attributed to Óttarr, and in the excerpts (articuli) from Styrmir Kárason’s Lífssaga of S. Óláfr appended to ÓH (Flat, with parallel texts in Tóm, 73aˣ, 71ˣ and 76aˣ, the last three representing a lost part of Bæb, Bæjarbók á Rauðasandi), where it is attributed to Sigvatr Þórðarson and follows his Lv 19. The stanza is somewhat likelier to be the work of Óttarr than of Sigvatr: ÓHLeg is older than Styrmir’s work, and in it the stanza is found in a rambling chapter with poetry by various skalds, where it follows Ólhelg Lv 3. Styrmir might have altered the ascription in order to lend more narrative unity to his saga, while there is no obvious reason why the author of ÓHLeg would have altered it. Similarities in the preceding prose show that the different ascriptions in ÓHLeg and ÓH are not just oral variants.

text and translation

Heðan sék reyk, þanns rjúka
rǫnn of fiskimǫnnum
— stór eru skalds of skærur
skellibrǫgð — ór helli.
Nú frýrat mér nýrar
nenningar dag þenna;
hlíti ek fyr hvítan
hornstraums dǫgurð Naumu.

Heðan ór helli sék reyk, þanns rǫnn rjúka of fiskimǫnnum; stór eru skellibrǫgð skalds of skærur. Nú frýrat mér nýrar nenningar þenna dag; ek hlíti {Naumu {hornstraums}} fyr hvítan dǫgurð.
‘From here out of the cave I see smoke, which mansions waft over fishermen; great are the roaring tricks of the poet in the dawn light. Now no-one will be jibing me into a new achievement today; I am content with a Nauma <giantess> of the horn-stream [ALE > WOMAN] instead of a white breakfast.

notes and context

According to ÓHLeg, one day Óttarr told King Óláfr helgi Haraldsson about a small farmer named Karli whom he had stayed with in Iceland. Óttarr said that he took Karli’s wife and went into a cave and sat there and delivered this vísa as he looked over the farm. The same story is told of Sigvatr Þórðarson in the extracts from Styrmir in the ÓH mss. There the prose adds that Karli thought Sigvatr lazy, and Bæjarbók (73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76ˣ) adds further that the wife was young and attractive, and that they ‘played’ (liekum ockr) in the cave. In all texts, the king smiles and responds with Ólhelg Lv 3.



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, 13. Lausavísur 12: AI, 269, BI, 249, Skald I, 128ÓHLeg 1922, 57-8, ÓHLeg 1982, 136-7; Fms 5, 177, Fms 12, 109-10, Flat 1860-8, III, 241, ÓH 1941, II, 687, 700, 701.


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