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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sveinn Frag 1III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Sveinn, Fragment 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 397.


text and translation

Þar kømr, lyngs en lǫngum
lind vanði mik strindar
leika leynisíka
lævi, ô til sævar.

Þar kømr ô til sævar, en {lind {strindar {leynisíka lyngs}}} vanði mik lǫngum leika lævi.
‘There the river comes to the sea, but the linden tree of the land of the hiding fishes of the heather [SNAKES > GOLD > WOMAN] for a long time accustomed me to use deceit.

notes and context

This helmingr is cited by Óláfr Þórðarson in ch. 16 of the Málskrúðsfræði section of TGT to exemplify the trope of allegoria, which he defines as conveying a meaning other than the literal sense of the words used.

The full context of this helmingr is unknown, but the subject-matter seems unrelated to Norðrdr. It certainly does not refer directly to the weather in Greenland. The significance of the allusion to a woman who accustoms the poet to use deceit, presumably in a love-entanglement, is also unknown. The helmingr may well be part of the last stanza of a poem, whether a drápa or not. For the reason, see the following Note.



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: Sveinn, Norðrsetudrápa 4: AI, 418, BI, 388, Skald I, 192; SnE 1848-87, II, 178-9, 425, III, 151, TGT 1884, 30, 113, 231, TGT 1927, 84, 107-8.


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