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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Steinn Óldr 9II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Steinn Herdísarson, Óláfsdrápa 9’ 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. 375-6.

Steinn HerdísarsonÓláfsdrápa

Veitk, hvar Óláfr úti
óslækinn rauð mæki
— deilask mér til mála
minni — fyrsta sinni.
Hlaut til hafs fyr útan
Halland konungr branda
— fǫgr sverð ruðu fyrðar —
fjǫlgóðr litat blóði.

Veitk, hvar óslækinn Óláfr rauð mæki úti fyrsta sinni; minni deilask mér til mála. Fjǫlgóðr konungr hlaut branda litat blóði til hafs fyr útan Halland; fyrðar ruðu fǫgr sverð.

I know, where tireless Óláfr reddened the sword at sea for the first time; the memories give me material for tales. The very good king had blades coloured in blood on the ocean off Halland; men reddened fair swords.

Mss: Mork(20r) (Mork)

Readings: [8] litat: lituð Mork

Editions: Skj AI, 411, Skj BI, 380, Skald I, 189; NN §891; Mork 1867, 124, Mork 1928-32, 287, Andersson and Gade 2000, 278-9, 483 (Ólkyrr).

Context: As st. 8 above.

Notes: [2] mæki ‘sword’: Probably a short one- or two-edged sword (see Falk 1914, 14-16). — [4] fyrsta sinni ‘for the first time’: Jesch (2001a, 207) suggests that this and the following st. actually refer to Óláfr’s participation in the battle of the Nissan off the coast of Halland (9 August 1062), which is certainly very plausible. Steinn himself had been present at that battle (see Steinn Úlffl above), and both the verb veitk ‘I know’ (l. 1) (rather than frák ‘I learned’) and the minni ‘memories’ (l. 4) point to a first-hand knowledge of this particular battle. If this was the battle of the Nissan, and if Steinn commemorated Óláfr’s warlike exploits chronologically, it would mean that sts 9-10 (and 11?) should precede st. 1 and that the sts have been misplaced in their present contexts. See also Note to st. 11/8 below. — [6, 7] fyr útan Halland ‘off Halland’: Echoes Steinn Nizv 3/6, 7, which lends credence to Jesch’s suggestion (see Note to l. 4 above). Halland is a district in present-day Sweden (then a part of Denmark). — [8] litat ‘coloured’: Emendation in keeping with NN §891. The n. pl. in the ms. (lituð ‘coloured’) must have been caused by sverð (n. pl.) ‘swords’ (l. 7). Skj B retains the Mork reading and construes fyrðar ruðu branda ‘men reddened blades’ (ll. 6, 7), which creates a highly unnatural w. o.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Andersson, Theodore M. and Kari Ellen Gade, trans. 2000. Morkinskinna: The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030-1157). Islandica 51. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  6. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  7. Falk, Hjalmar, ed. 1914a. Sólarljóð. Videnskapsselskapets skrifter II. Hist.-filos. kl. 7. 2 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  8. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  9. Mork 1867 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1867. Morkinskinna: Pergamentsbog fra første halvdel af det trettende aarhundrede. Indeholdende en af de ældste optegnelser af norske kongesagaer. Oslo: Bentzen.
  10. Internal references
  11. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Steinn Herdísarson, Úlfsflokkr’ 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. 366-7.
  12. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Steinn Herdísarson, Nizarvísur 3’ 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, p. 362.

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