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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sturl Hrafn 4II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hrafnsmál 4’ 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. 730-1.

Sturla ÞórðarsonHrafnsmál

Laust af liðföstum
ljósum valdrósar
brims á bjarthimna
blómum vegljóma.
Ferð var friðskerðis
flokka áþokkuð
heims of hafstrauma
hringa eldingum.

Ljósum {vegljóma brims} laust á bjarthimna af {liðföstum blómum {valdrósar}}. Ferð flokka {friðskerðis hringa} of hafstrauma var áþokkuð eldingum heims.

Gleams {of the glory-flash of the surf} [GOLD] shot towards the bright heavens from {the staunch leaves {of the slaughter-woman}} [VALKYRIE > SHIELDS]. The voyage of the companies {of the peace-diminisher of rings} [GENEROUS MAN] across the sea-currents was like lightning of [this] world.

Mss: F(122ra), Flat(185rb) (Hák)

Readings: [3] á bjarthimna: af bjarthimni Flat    [4] veg‑: víg‑ Flat

Editions: Skj AII, 120, Skj BII, 127, Skald II, 68-9, NN §§1356, 2254 anm.; F 1871, 571, Flat 1860-8, III, 219.

Context: On 5 July 1263, Hákon sailed into the North Sea with his entire fleet, which was magnificent to behold.

Notes: [1] laust ‘shot’: Used impersonally with a dat. object. — [1] liðföstum ‘staunch’: Lit. ‘troop-firm’. So NN §2254 anm. Skj B gives the tentative translation til skibet festede (armen?) ‘fastened to the ship (the arm?)’. Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 93) also takes lið- in the sense ‘ship’ (lið is attested in that meaning in Þul Skipa 4/8III and in Klœ Lv 4III), and he offers the translation fastgjort til et skib ‘fastened to a ship’. — [2] ljósum (n. dat. pl.) ‘gleams’: Taken here as a noun (so also Skj B). It can also be interpreted as m. dat. sg. of the adj. ljóss ‘light’ qualifying vegljóma ‘the glory-flash’ (l. 4) if the weak noun -ljóma is taken as a dat. sg. rather than as a gen. sg. — [3] bjarthimna ‘the bright heavens’: Hap. leg. — [4] blómum ‘leaves’: Blóm can mean ‘bloom, blossom, leaf and fruit’ (see Fritzner: blóm 1-2). — [4] vegljóma ‘of the glory-flash’: Hap. leg. LP: vegljómi takes the first part of the cpd as the noun vegr ‘road’ rather than vegr ‘glory, honour’ and construes the kenning vegljóma brims (ll. 3, 4) as an inverted kenning: ‘the road-flash of the surf’ i.e. ‘the flash of the road of the surf’, i.e. ‘the flash of the sea’ (‘gold’). That interpretation is also possible, but see st. 9/2. — [6] áþokkuð ‘like’: Hap. leg. Variant form of the adj. áþekkr ‘like’. — [7] heims ‘of [this] world’: Translated in Skj B as himlens ‘of the sky’ (following Konráð Gíslason 1895, I, 93), which is unlikely (see LP: heimr 1-11). ‘Lightning of this world’ means lightning in a physical sense, as opposed to the imagery provided by Hákon’s ships. — [7] hafstrauma ‘the sea-currents’: Hap. leg.


  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. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  8. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  9. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  10. Internal references
  11. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Skipa heiti 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 867.
  12. Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Klœingr Þorsteinsson, Lausavísa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 268.

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