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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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SnSt Ht 68III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 68’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1180.

Snorri SturlusonHáttatal

text and translation

Fremstr varð Skúli.
Skala lof dvala;
semk mildum gram
mærð fjǫlsnœrða.
Meir skalk stœri
styrs hróðr fyrir
— kærr vask harra —
hers gnótt bera.

Skúli varð fremstr … Skala dvala lof; semk mildum gram fjǫlsnœrða mærð. Meir skalk bera hróðr {stœri styrs} fyrir gnótt hers; vask kærr harra.
‘Skúli became the foremost … I shall not delay the praise; I put together a many-stranded poem for the generous prince. As before, I shall bear the fame of the increaser of battle [WARRIOR] before a multitude of men; I was dear to the lord.

notes and context

This stanza opens the third section of the poem (it þriðja kvæði lit. ‘the third poem’) with stanzas in ‘lesser verse-forms’ (smæri hættir), many of which are nonetheless found in encomiastic poetry. The metre is tøgdrápulag ‘journey-poem metre’. It is a regularised metre with four metrical positions (and with licensed resolution, neutralisation and elision as in fornyrðislag), with one alliterating stave in the odd lines and the main stave in the even lines fixed in initial position. The odd lines may contain internal rhymes (skothending; see ll. 3, 5, 7), and the even lines have aðalhendingar in positions 1 and 3.

For the name of this metre, see also RvHbreiðm Hl 25-6. For a discussion of this metre, as well as tøglag ‘journey-metre’ (st. 69) and hagmælt ‘skilfully spoken’ (st. 70), see Section 4 of the General Introduction in SkP I and Introduction to Þloft TøgdrI. — [1]: The line is part of a split refrain (klofastef) which is concluded in st. 70/8: Skúli varð fremstr | skjǫldunga ungr ‘young Skúli became the foremost of lords’ (for a poem in tøglag with a similar refrain, see Sigv Knútdr 3/1I, 6/8I, 7/1I, 9/8I, 11/4I). The missing parts of the klofastef are indicated in Prose and Translation as ‘…’. — [4]: The rhyme snœrð- : mærð does not involve identical vowels, and earlier scholars have therefore postulated a variant form mœrð (see LP: mærð; SnE 2007, 67), but there are no early examples of this rhyme (only here and in ESk Geisl 21/2VII, where the reading appears to be corrupt). Hence this could be an early manifestation of the change œ > æ or at least indicate an instability in the pronunciation of the vowel. That change is otherwise dated to shortly before 1250 (see ANG §120).



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: Snorri Sturluson, 2. Háttatal 68: AII, 70, BII, 80, Skald II, 44, NN §2516; SnE 1848-87, I, 682-5, III, 128, SnE 1879-81, I, 11, 82, II, 26, SnE 1931, 243, SnE 2007, 29; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 43.


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