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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Stefnir Lv 2I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Stefnir Þorgilsson, Lausavísur 2’ 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. 450.

Stefnir ÞorgilssonLausavísur


The stanza (Stefnir Lv 2), addressed to a Danish woman, exults in the rigours of seafaring compared with the ease of a woman’s embrace (see Note to l. 8). The prose Context (below) connects the stanza with Stefnir’s verse exposé of Sigvaldi jarl, but there is nothing in the stanza to substantiate that (see Gottskálk Þór Jensson 2006, 46 and n. 1). As with Lv 1, Finnur Jónsson (LH I, 472) was confident in its authenticity, and dated it c. 1001, though it is uniquely preserved in ms. Holm18 of ÓTOdd.

text and translation

Ek skil œrit gǫrla,
— erumk leið* fǫður reiði —
— harðr skyli drengr á dýrðir —
danskr hæll, hvat þú mælir.
Heldr vilk við stoð standa
staglútr drifinn úti,
váða Gerðr, an verðak
varmr á þínum armi.

Ek skil œrit gǫrla, danskr hæll, hvat þú mælir; reiði fǫður erumk leið*; drengr skyli harðr á dýrðir. Heldr vilk standa við stoð, staglútr drifinn úti, {Gerðr váða}, an verðak varmr á þínum armi.
‘I understand clearly enough, Danish lady, what you are saying; [your] father’s anger is hateful to me; a warrior should be hardy in glorious actions. I wish rather to stand beside the post, leaning like a forestay, storm-beaten out at sea, Gerðr <goddess> of garments [WOMAN], than to get warm in your arms.

notes and context

The stanza is occasioned by Sigvaldi jarl’s anger at Stefnir Lv 1 (see Context). Stefnir, falling into a trap set by the jarl, accepts his daughter’s invitation to sit beside her and recites this stanza. The jarl has him killed.



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: Stefnir Þórgilsson, Lausavísur 2: AI, 153-4, BI, 146, Skald I, 80, NN §§471, 2447; ÓTOdd 1932, 195, ÍF 25, 309, ÍF 15, II, 109.


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