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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sturl Hrafn 17II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hrafnsmál 17’ 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. 741-2.

Sturla ÞórðarsonHrafnsmál

text and translation

Sendi snarlynda
sverða blikskerðir
sveit inn sigrmæti
síð til brynhríðar.
Drap í dul greypa
drengja lof þengils,
drótt sá er dal-Gauta
dæmði hersæmða.

{Inn sigrmæti blikskerðir} sendi snarlynda sveit sverða síð til {brynhríðar}. Lof þengils drengja drap í greypa dul, sá er dæmði drótt {dal-Gauta} hersæmða.
‘The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher [GENEROUS MAN] finally sent a quick-witted company of swords to the byrnie-storm [BATTLE]. The ruler’s praise of the warriors was gravely misplaced, he who deemed the retinue of the bow-Gautar <= Óðinn’s> [WARRIORS] battle-famed.

notes and context

The Scots attacked those Norwegians who had been forced ashore in the storm. The Norwegians defended themselves behind a beached merchantman until Hákon could send men ashore to help them. Few fell, but many were wounded.

[5-8]: This helmingr is difficult to make sense of. The present edn mostly follows NN §1361. The ruler whose flattering opinion about his troops is misplaced is likely to be Alexander, king of the Scots. Alternatively it could refer to Hákon, since the Norw. troops were in trouble at this point. Skj B construes the half-st. as follows: herr drengja þengils, sás lof sæmði, dæmði dulgreypa drótt dal-Gauta drápi, translated as kongens mænds hær, han, hvem lovprisning hædrede, dömte den indbilske, grumme krigerskare til døden ‘the army of the king’s men, he, whom praise honoured, sentenced the conceited, cruel band of warriors to death’. In addition to the convoluted w. o., which is unprecedented in Hrafn, there is a violation of syntax because the finite verb in the main cl. (dæmði ‘sentenced’ (l. 8)) occurs further back than syntactic position 1 or 2. The F version of ll. 5-8 can be construed as follows: drótt drap ina dulmiklu drengja lofþengils, sá er dæmði dal-Gauta hersæmða ‘the retinue killed the highly conceited warriors of the praiseworthy ruler, he who deemed the bow-Gautar battle-famed’. Aside from the fact that this version has no support in the accompanying prose, l. 5 lacks internal rhyme.



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: Sturla Þórðarson, 5. Hrafnsmál 17: AII, 123, BII, 130-1, Skald II, 70, NN §§1360, 1361, 1779C, 2992D; F 1871, 576, Hák 1977-82, 202, Flat 1860-8, III, 225.


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