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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þfagr Sveinn 6II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Þorleikr fagri, Flokkr about Sveinn Úlfsson 6’ 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. 317-18.

Þorleikr fagriFlokkr about Sveinn Úlfsson

text and translation

Hvé hefr til Heiðabœjar
heiptgjarn konungr arnat,
folk-Rǫgnir getr fregna
fylkis sveit, hinns veitat,
þás til þengils bœjar
þarflaust Haraldr austan
ár, þats ôn of væri,
endr byrskíðum renndi.

{Folk-Rǫgnir}, hinns veitat, getr fregna sveit fylkis, hvé heiptgjarn konungr hefr arnat til Heiðabœjar, þás Haraldr renndi endr {byrskíðum} þarflaust austan til bœjar þengils ár, þats of væri ôn.
‘That battle-Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> [WARRIOR] who does not know can ask the ruler’s troop how the war-eager king travelled to Hedeby, when Haraldr once sent the skis of fair wind [SHIPS] without due cause from the east to the lord’s town that year, which never should have been.

notes and context

After Sveinn Úlfsson failed to appear at the Götaälv, Haraldr embarked on a punitive expedition against the Danes and advanced as far south as Hedeby, which he devastated with fire.

[1-4]: This half-st. is somewhat cryptic, but Þorleikr appears to try to avoid stating that the reason for the sacking of Hedeby was that Sveinn failed to show up at the appointed meeting with Haraldr, while at the same time telling the audience about Haraldr’s activities (‘if anyone wants to know about this, let him ask Sveinn’s men’). Alternatively, the warrior-kenning folk-Rǫgnir ‘battle-Rǫgnir’ (l. 3) could refer to the poet himself, enquiring about the events which he had not witnessed in person (see Introduction above). — [7] ár, þats of væri ôn ‘that year which never should have been’: So ÍF 28, ÍF 29, Andersson and Gade 2000. Skj B (and Skald?) takes ár as an adv. (‘earlier’), which leaves the rel. cl. (þats of væri n) without an antecedent (translated as det burde ikke være sket ‘that ought not to have happened’). However, treating the cl. as an intercalary cl. in this manner would require emendation of þats ‘that which’ to þat ‘that’. The sense must be that the year in which these events took place was an ill-fated time for the Danes, which could have been avoided (a veiled admonition to Sveinn?).



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: Þórleikr fagri, En flokk om Sven Ulfssön 6: AI, 398, BI, 366-7, Skald I, 183, NN §2039; Mork 1867, 56, Mork 1928-32, 164, Andersson and Gade 2000, 200, 476 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 340 (MH); Fms 6, 259 (HSig ch. 51); ÍF 29, 257-8 (ch. 55); ÍF 28, 115 (HSig ch. 34), F 1871, 213, E 1916, 56.


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