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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞHjalt Lv 1I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorvaldr Hjaltason, 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. 271.

Þorvaldr HjaltasonLausavísur

Fari* til Fýrisvallar,
folka tungls, hverrs hungrar,
vǫrðr, at virkis garði
vestr kveldriðu hesta.
Þar hefr hreggdrauga hǫggvit
— hóll*aust es þat — sólar
elfar skíðs fyr ulfa
Eirekr í dyn geira.

{Vǫrðr {tungls folka}}, fari* hverr {hesta {kveldriðu}}, [e]s hungrar, vestr til Fýrisvallar at garði virkis. Þar hefr Eirekr hǫggvit {{{{elfar skíðs} sólar} hregg}drauga} fyr ulfa í {dyn geira}; þat es hóll*aust.

{Guardian {of the sun of battles}} [SWORD > WARRIOR], let every one {of the horses {of the evening-rider}} [TROLL-WOMAN > WOLVES] who is hungry go west to Fýrisvǫllr, to the enclosure of the stronghold. There Eiríkr has cut down {the logs {of the storm {of the sun {of the ski of the river}}}} [(lit. ‘storm-logs of the sun of the ski of the river’) SHIP > SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIORS] before wolves in {the tumult of spears} [BATTLE]; that is without exaggeration.

Mss: Flat(87va) (Flat)

Readings: [1] Fari*: farit Flat    [3] vǫrðr: verðr Flat    [5] ‑drauga: dǫggvar Flat    [6] hóll*aust: ‘holla aust’ Flat    [7] skíðs: skins Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 117, Skj BI, 111, Skald I, 63; NN §§1853G, 2009, 3102; Fms 5, 250-1, Fms 12, 115, Flat 1860-8, II, 73 (Styrb).

Context: After the battle of Fýrisvellir and the retreat of his coerced ally Haraldr Gormsson to Denmark, Styrbjǫrn Óláfsson is slain, and his army defeated, in renewed fighting against his uncle King Eiríkr. Afterwards, in Uppsala, Eiríkr promises a reward to anyone who composes about this, and so Þorvaldr Hjaltason orti vísur þessar ‘composed these verses’ (Flat).

Notes: [All]: The general sense of the stanza is clear but it cannot be interpreted as it stands, and some emendation is reasonable given that the only ms. witness is Flat, whose skaldic texts are often flawed. — [1] fari* ‘let ... go’: This emendation from ms. ‘farit’ follows Kock in Skald and NN §§1853G, 2009 (and fari is suggested as an option in Skj B). The ms. reading could alternatively stand as normalised farið, imp. ‘go’, which would assume that the wolves are being addressed directly. However, an apostrophe to wolves would be unusual in itself, and would not sit well with what seems to be an apostrophe to a warrior in the same helmingr (see Note to vǫrðr l. 3). — [1] til Fýrisvallar ‘to Fýrisvǫllr’: The stanza has the sg. form of the p. n., while the prose (Flat 1860-8, II, 72) has acc. pl. ‑uollu (normalised ‑vǫllu, nom. pl. ‑vellir), and the pl. form Fýrisvellir is more usual in reference to the battle. The site is assumed to have been south of modern Uppsala. On the battle, see further Anon (Styrb) 1-3 and Introduction. — [2] tungls ‘of the sun’: ‘Of the moon’ is also possible. Tungl n. refers to heavenly bodies, whether sun, moon or stars, and terms for both ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ occur in shield-kennings (Meissner 168). — [3] vǫrðr ‘guardian’: Ms. ‘verdr’ (normalised verðr) could be verbal ‘becomes’ or adjectival ‘worthy’, but neither would fit the syntax, and the minimal emendation to vǫrðr has been made by most eds, as here. This forms the base-word of a warrior-kenning functioning as an apostophe. — [5] þar ‘there’: Kock (NN §2009A) mentions the possibility of a reference to action around the Danevirke (Jutland) but this is implausible and involves reading þar as meaning ‘here’. — [5] hreggdrauga ‘the logs of the storm’: (a) The solution adopted here (that of Skj B) involves two emendations, but a postulated original drauga could have been corrupted to dǫggvar under the influence of hǫggvit, and a postulated skíðs corrupted to skins ‘shining’ under the (semantic) influence of sól ‘sun’; and the other options are not unproblematic. Emended drauga forms the base of a warrior-kenning, as commonly, though the meaning of draugr has been disputed. It is either a log, tree-stump (so Orms Eddu-Brot, in SnE 1848-87, II, 497; LP: 2. draugr) or else a supernatural being, a revenant of a very palpable kind (so Meissner 264-5, following Neckel; LP: 1. draugr). ‘Log’ is preferred here, since it fits well with hǫggvit ‘cut down’ (l. 5); the verb hǫggva is also used of felling timber. (b) Ms. hreggdǫggvar ‘storm-dews’ could be retained (as by Kock in Skald and NN §3102), yielding a clause in which Eiríkr has cut down blood (hreggdǫggvar sólar skins elfar ‘the dew of the storm (lit. storm-dew) of the sun of the gleam of the river [GOLD > SHIELD > BATTLE > BLOOD]’. But the idea of blood being ‘cut down’ or ‘hewn’ (hǫggvit) is unconvincing, as is Kock’s ‘sun of gold’ (jyllene solen) for ‘shield’. — [8] Eirekr ‘Eiríkr’: Swedish king: see Introduction.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Internal references
  11. Not published: do not cite (StyrbI)
  12. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ 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. clxi-clxii.
  13. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Þorvaldr Hjaltason’ 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. 270.
  14. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa 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. 1076.

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