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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞGísl Búdr 7I

Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorkell Gíslason, Búadrápa 7’ 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. 948.

Þorkell GíslasonBúadrápa

Gullu hræs haukar;
hvassir benlaukar
skýfðu liðs leggi;
lamði grjót seggi.
Gnustu gráir malmar
— gengu í sundr hjalmar —
— hauks vasat friðr fjǫllum —
í fjǫrnis stǫllum.

{Haukar hræs} gullu; {hvassir benlaukar} skýfðu leggi liðs; grjót lamði seggi. Gráir malmar gnustu í {stǫllum fjǫrnis}; hjalmar gengu í sundr; friðr vasat {fjǫllum hauks}.

{The hawks of the corpse} [RAVENS/EAGLES] screamed; {sharp wound-leeks} [SWORDS] slashed the limbs of the troop; stones beat men. Grey metal weapons crashed on {the supports of the helmet} [HEADS]; helmets burst apart; there was no peace {for the mountains of the hawk} [ARMS].

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

Readings: [1] hræs: hregg‑ 53, 54, Bb    [8] fjǫrnis: ‘fornis’ Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 554, Skj BI, 537, Skald I, 261; Fms 1, 173-4, Fms 12, 43, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 190 (ch. 90); Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 27, 80. 

Context: The battle continues. Although the Jómsvíkingar have bigger ships, both sides fight most boldly. A great number of Hákon jarl’s men are struck down by arrows and stones.

Notes: [1] haukar hræs ‘the hawks of the corpse [RAVENS/EAGLES]’: This is a common pattern of kenning for a bird of battle. The cpd hregghaukar ‘storm-hawks’ in 53, 54, Bb could stand if hregg ‘storm’ is taken, unusually, as a heiti for ‘battle’ (cf. Note to Jǫk Lv 1/3) and the referent thereby as ravens or eagles. — [5-8]: An alternative possibility to the construal here is to read l. 5 as a self-contained clause and ll. 7-8 together, with the sense ‘there was no peace for the mountains of the hawk [ARMS] against the supports of the helmet [HEADS]’, i.e. warriors’ arms were busy in action against enemy heads. Ólafur Halldórsson (2000, 80) presents this alternative in his prose order; the other eds cited take l. 5 together with l. 8 as above. — [8] stǫllum fjǫrnis ‘the supports of the helmet [HEADS]’: See Note to st. 6/4.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  5. Ólafur Halldórsson. 2000. Danish Kings and the Jomsvikings in the Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason. London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  6. Internal references
  7. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Jǫkull Bárðarson, Lausavísur 1’ 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. 813.

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