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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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SnSt Ht 8III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 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. 1112.

Snorri SturlusonHáttatal

text and translation

Klofinn spyr ek hjálm fyrir hilmis
hjarar egg; duga seggir;
því eru heldr, þar es skekr skjǫldu,
skafin sverð lituð ferðar.
Bila muna gramr, þó at gumna
gular rítr nái líta;
draga þorir hann yfir hreina
hvatan brand þrǫmu randa.

Ek spyr hjálm klofinn fyrir egg hjarar hilmis; seggir duga; því eru skafin sverð ferðar heldr lituð, þar es skekr skjǫldu. Gramr muna bila, þó at nái líta gular rítr gumna; hann þorir draga hvatan brand yfir hreina þrǫmu randa.
‘I hear that the helmet was split before the blade of the lord’s sword; men are capable; therefore the polished swords of the company are highly coloured where shields are shaken. The ruler will not fail, although he is able to see the yellow shields of men; he dares to draw the sharp sword across shining rims of shields.

notes and context

The stanza shows the maximum number of syllables that can be contained in dróttkvætt odd and even lines provided that the syllables are pronounced quickly and placed close together.

The headings are viij. ‘the eighth’ () and ǫnnur oddhending ‘the second front-rhymed’ (U(49r)). — The stanza contains examples of resolution, neutralisation and elision. The even lines have seven syllables, and the first two short syllables (the first lift) in each line are resolved. The odd lines have nine syllables and, like the even lines, have resolution on the first two short syllables (the first lift) in ll. 1, 5 and 7. Unlike the even lines, the odd lines also have neutralisation (fyrir ‘before’, l. 1, muna ‘will not’, l. 5, þorir ‘dares’, yfir ‘across’, l. 7) and elision in dips (spyr ek > spyrk ‘I hear’, l. 1, þar es > þars ‘where’, l. 3, þó at > þótt ‘although’, l. 5). The latter device is treated more extensively in the subsequent prose (bragarmál) (see SnE 2007, 50; on the principles of resolution, neutralisation and elision, see Sievers 1878, Kuhn 1977a, Kuhn 1983, 55-7, 68-9, Gade 1995a, 60-7 and the General Introduction in SkP I). — [3]: Line 3 is problematic. Although it contains nine syllables which can be reduced to seven syllables by elision of því eru to þvíru ‘therefore are’ and þar es to þars ‘where’, it cannot be reduced to six syllables. As Faulkes (SnE 2007, 50) points out, es (‘er’) ‘is’, the W variant of the verb vera ‘be’, would provide the correct number of syllables (því es > þvís by elision), but the subject is in the pl. (skafin sverð ‘polished swords’, l. 4). It could be that Snorri nodded in this instance, but it is also possible that he had in mind such decasyllabic lines as Hharð Lv 8/3II þꜹ ero eɴ sva at ec man manna, normalised as þau ’ro enn, svát mank, manna lit. ‘those are such, so that I remember, of men’. — [5-6]: The clause ‘although he is able to see the yellow shields of men’ probably refers to the fact that the shields of the opponents are so close that he can see their colour, i.e. battle is imminent.



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 8: AII, 54, BII, 62-3, Skald II, 36; SnE 1848-87, I, 608-11, II, 370, 377, III, 113, SnE 1879-81, I, 2, 75, II, 5, SnE 1931, 218, SnE 2007, 7-8; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 6-7.


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