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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞGísl Búdr 4I

Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorkell Gíslason, Búadrápa 4’ 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. 945.

Þorkell GíslasonBúadrápa
345

Herr bar hôtt merki;
á Hamðis serki
grimmt kom él eggja;
at gekk lið seggja.
Meiddu fjǫr flotna
— flest varð hlíf brotna —
— glumðu gráir oddar —
grjót ok skotbroddar.

Herr bar merki hôtt; {grimmt él eggja} kom á {serki Hamðis}; lið seggja gekk at. Grjót ok skotbroddar meiddu fjǫr flotna; flest hlíf varð brotna; gráir oddar glumðu.

The army carried the standard high; {the terrible storm of edges} [BATTLE] hit {the shirts of Hamðir <legendary hero>} [MAIL-SHIRTS]; the troop of men attacked. Stones and missile-points injured the lives of seamen; most shields were shattered; grey points crashed.

Mss: 61(19vb), 53(16ra), 54(16ra), Bb(26rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] Hamðis: ‘handis’ 54, Bb;    serki: serki or serkr Bb    [3] grimmt: grjót 54, gjǫrt Bb    [4] at: ‘ac’ 54, á Bb;    gekk: gekksk 53, 54

Editions: Skj AI, 554, Skj BI, 536-7, Skald I, 260; Fms 1, 171, Fms 12, 42, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 187 (ch. 90), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 25, 79.

Context: Hákon jarl has learnt of the arrival of the Jómsvíkingar and of their harrying of the country. The two sides meet in Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen) and draw up their fleets for battle, both sides setting up their standards. The fiercest battle begins, fought at first with rocks and arrows.

Notes: [All]: In quoting this stanza, all the mss name the poem, using the formula svá segir í Búadrápu ‘as it says in Búadrápa’. — [1] herr bar merki hôtt ‘the army carried the standard high’: Herr ‘army’ and merki ‘standard’ have been tentatively assumed to have sg. reference here, designating the Jómsvíkingar, in the light of the poem’s general focus on them. Merki could alternatively be taken as pl. (as in Skj B), and herr as a reference to both parties. The Context in ÓT might suggest that the compiler understood them thus, though the Jómsvíkingr Sigvaldi jarl’s banner is singled out earlier in the narrative, and in the corresponding place in ÓTHkr (ÍF 26, 279). Hôtt ‘high’ is the n. nom./acc. sg. form of adj. hôr ‘high’, taken here adverbially, but it could alternatively be an attributive adj. qualifying merki, which could then only be sg., ‘high standard’ (cf. Note to st. 2/1 hvasst). — [2] serki Hamðis ‘the shirts of Hamðir <legendary hero> [MAIL-SHIRTS]’: The kenning refers to the armour which Guðrún Gjúkadóttir prepared for her sons Hamðir and Sǫrli, making it impervious to iron (Vǫlsunga saga ch. 44, Vǫls 1965, 77; SnE 1998, I, 49). — [4] gekk at (3rd pers. sg. pret. indic.) ‘attacked’: This reading is retained by Wisén (1870, 64), but Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), Kock (Skald), and Ólafur Halldórsson (2000) all adopt the m. v. form gekksk in 53 and 54, which would have a similar but more reciprocal sense. This in turn would imply that lið ‘troop, force’ in the same line applies to both sides, though this seems less likely; see Note to l. 1 on the ambiguity of herr ‘army’.

References

  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  6. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  7. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  8. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1870. Úrval af norrænum fornkvæðum handa hinum bókmennta-iðkendum. Lund: Berling.
  9. Vǫls 1965 = Finch, R. G., ed. and trans. 1965. The Saga of the Volsungs. London: Nelson.
  10. Ólafur Halldórsson. 2000. Danish Kings and the Jomsvikings in the Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason. London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  11. Internal references
  12. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ 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, pp. clxiii-clxvi.
  13. 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Vǫlsunga saga’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 790.
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