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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Nesv 5I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Nesjavísur 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. 563.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonNesjavísur

Teitr, sák okkr í ítru
allvalds liði falla
(gerðisk harðr) of herðar
(hjǫrdynr) svalar brynjur.
En mín at flug fleina
falsk und hjalm inn valska
(okkr vissak svá, sessi,)
svǫrt skǫr (við her gǫrva).

Teitr, sák svalar brynjur falla of herðar okkr í ítru liði allvalds; {harðr hjǫrdynr} gerðisk. En svǫrt skǫr mín falsk und inn valska hjalm at {flug fleina}; sessi, vissak okkr svá gǫrva við her.

Teitr, I saw chill mail-shirts fall over the shoulders of us both in the glorious war-band of the mighty ruler; {a hard sword-din} [BATTLE] was waged. And my black hair hid itself under the Frankish helmet at {the flight of barbs} [BATTLE]; bench-mate, I knew us both to be thus prepared against the army.

Mss: (251v) (Hkr); Holm2(12v), R686ˣ(25r), 972ˣ(85va-86va), J1ˣ(158v), J2ˣ(134v), 325VI(11ra), 75a(1ra), 73aˣ(35r), 78aˣ(32r), 68(11v), 61(84va-b), Bb(135ra) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Teitr: Teit 73aˣ;    okkr: ǫrt 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ;    í ítru: út J1ˣ, ítra J2ˣ, á ítru 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ    [2] ‑valds: ‑vals 972ˣ, ‑valdr Bb;    falla: faldna J1ˣ    [3] gerðisk: þá var 61;    harðr: hár J1ˣ, J2ˣ, hǫrð 68    [4] ‑dynr: ‑dyns 68, Bb;    brynjur: ‘briyn(yir)’(?) Bb    [5] En: ok R686ˣ;    mín: minn J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    fleina: flæma J2ˣ    [6] falsk: falk R686ˣ, 68, ‘[…]alsk’ 325VI    [7] vissak: so all others, vísa ek Kˣ    [8] skǫr: ‘skuar’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    við: var R686ˣ;    her: hjǫr R686ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ;    gǫrva: gǫrvan Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 266-7, Skj BI, 247, Skald I, 128; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 70-1, IV, 121, ÍF 27, 62 (ÓHHkr ch. 49); Fms 4, 98, Fms 12, 79, ÓH 1941, I, 92 (ch. 40); CPB II, 127, Poole 2005d, 173-4.

Context: The stanza is introduced after st. 4, with the comment that although Sveinn jarl had a larger force King Óláfr had an elite and excellently equipped band on his ship.

Notes: [1] Teitr: Although teitr could be the adj. ‘glad, cheerful’, it appears to be a pers. n. here, since Sigvatr uses the dual pron. (acc. and dat. okkr ‘us both’) in the stanza rather than the pl. seen consistently elsewhere in the poem. This Teitr is otherwise unknown but on the available onomastic evidence was probably a fellow Icelander (Lind 1905-15: Teitr). The stanza thus apparently addresses not the broader audience of the retinue addressed in st. 1 but instead an individual comrade. Among those who, on the basis of these features, regard st. 5 as a separate lausavísa, are Finnur Jónsson (Skj; LH I, 595) and Petersen (1946, 54-7), and Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson does not count it among the Nesv stanzas (ÍF 27, 61 n.). However, the preservation of the stanza between sts 4 and 7 in ÓH-Hkr, with the same routine introduction, svá segir Sigvatr ‘so says Sigvatr’, favours the present arrangement. Stanza 5 is included in Nesv in CPB (II, 119, 127-9), indeed the eds propose that the entire poem is addressed to Teitr. Fidjestøl also advocates inclusion, noting that Nesv appears to have been loosely-structured throughout (1982, 118; cf. Hellberg 1972, 24; Jesch 2001a, 209). Potential parallels to this incidental address occur in Sigv Vestv 1 and in Arn Magndr 4II (Poole 2005d, 192-5, though contrast Whaley 1998, 119 and Note to Arn Magndr 4/4II). — [4] brynjur ‘mail-shirts’: The skald lays emphasis upon his superb military equipment, which indicates the king’s special favour (cf. Graham-Campbell and Batey 1998, 35-6, 67). — [5] flug fleina ‘the flight of barbs [BATTLE]’: If a kenning, this is rather a marginal one, since it could also be taken in its restricted literal sense; and normally the base-word of battle-kennings has meanings such as ‘noise, speech, meeting, sport, storm’. — [6] inn valska hjalm ‘the Frankish helmet’: On the adj. valskr, see Note to Sigv Víkv 6/5. Frankish swords were particularly prized in the Viking Age (Jesch 2001a, 78); perhaps the same applied to metal helmets, at a time when most fighters wore simple leather caps (Graham-Campbell and Batey 1998, 35-6).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  5. 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.
  6. Whaley, Diana, ed. and trans. 1998. The Poetry of Arnórr jarlaskáld: An Edition and Study. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 8. Turnhout: Brepols.
  7. 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.
  8. LH = Finnur Jónsson. 1920-4. Den oldnorske og oldislandske litteraturs historie. 3 vols. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Gad.
  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. Lind, Eric Henrik. 1905-15. Norsk-isländska dopnamn ock fingerade namn från medeltiden. Uppsala: Lundequist and Leipzig: Harrassowitz.
  12. Graham-Campbell, James and Colleen E. Batey. 1998. Vikings in Scotland: An Archaeological Survey. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  13. Hellberg, Staffan. 1972. ‘Slaget vid Nesjar och “Sven jarl Håkonsson”’. SI 23, 21-30.
  14. Petersen, Sven Aage. 1946. Vikinger og vikingeaand: Sighvat Thordssøn og hans skjaldskab. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  15. Poole, Russell. 2005d. ‘The Nesjavísur of Sigvatr Þórðarson’. MS 15, 171-98.
  16. Internal references
  17. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)
  18. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)
  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.
  20. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 4’ 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, pp. 212-13.
  21. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Víkingarvísur 6’ 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. 541.
  22. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Vestrfararvísur 1’ 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. 617.

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