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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þhorn Gldr 8I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 8’ 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. 88.

Þorbjǫrn hornklofiGlymdrápa

Menfergir bar margar
margspakr — Niðar varga
lundr vann sókn á sandi —
sandmens í bý randir,
áðr fyr eljunfróðum
allr herr Skota þverri
lǫgðis seið af láði
lœbrautar varð flœja.

{Margspakr menfergir} bar margar randir í bý {sandmens}; {lundr {varga Niðar}} vann sókn á sandi, áðr allr herr varð flœja {seið lǫgðis} af {láði {lœbrautar}} fyr {eljunfróðum þverri Skota}.

{The very wise ring-destroyer} [GENEROUS MAN = Haraldr] bore many shields into the settlement by {the shore-ring} [SEA]; {the tree {of the wolves of Nidelven <river>}} [SHIPS > SEAFARER = Haraldr] made an attack upon the shore, before all the host had to flee {from the incantation of the sword} [BATTLE] out of {the land {of the pollack-path}} [SEA > ISLAND] before {the mettle-wise destroyer of Scots} [= Haraldr].

Mss: (64v), F(11rb), J1ˣ(36r-v), J2ˣ(37r) (Hkr); 61(22ra) (ll. 1-4), 54(18vb), Bb(29rb) (ÓT); 761aˣ(21r)

Readings: [2] ‑spakr: ‑spakar J1ˣ;    Niðar: viðar 54, Bb    [3] lundr: lund F, lunds J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 54, 761aˣ;    sandi: landi 54, Bb    [4] sandmens: landmens J1ˣ, 54, Bb, land mengs J2ˣ;    bý: gný 54, Bb    [5] eljun‑: so F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ, ‘ælian‑’ Kˣ, ‘eljum‑’ 54, Bb;    ‑fróðum: ‑prúðum J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 54, Bb, 761aˣ    [7] seið: eiðs J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ, seiðs 54, seiði Bb    [8] lœ‑: lað‑ 54, Bb;    varð: var Bb;    flœja: ‘flegia’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 23-4, Skj BI, 21, Skald I, 13, NN §§234 Anm., 1021; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 129, IV, 37-8, ÍF 26, 121, Hkr 1991, I, 75 (HHárf ch. 22), F 1871, 50; Fms 1, 194, Fms 12, 46, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 212 (ch. 95).

Context: King Haraldr learns that vikings overwintering in the British Isles are harrying in his kingdom, and goes to the Orkneys, Shetland and Scotland to fight them there. When he arrives on Mǫn (the Isle of Man), he discovers that the population has fled with their possessions to Scotland, so he cannot seize any booty.

Notes: [All]: In discussions of the stanza, the primary question has been whether both helmingar refer to the same event or each refers to a separate one, as the prose of Hkr indicates. (a) Because áðr ‘before’ is best taken as a conj. rather than an adv. (see Note to l. 5), one could assume either separate events (Holtsmark 1927, 52) or a single incident of attack and flight (von See 1977b, 69-70; Hofmann 1978-9, 69-70). (b) Acceptance of Hkr’s representation leads early eds (Nj 1875-8, II, 384; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) to understand áðr as an adv. and to assume each helmingr refers to a different event. — [1-4]: This helmingr is given extra ornamentation through the use of dunhent in margar | margspakar : vargar and sandi | sandmens : randir (Fidjestøl 1982, 219; Naumann 1998, 239). — [4] í bý sandmens ‘into the settlement by the shore-ring [SEA]’: (a) Sandmen ‘shore-ring’ corresponds to the numerous sea-kennings based on the pattern ‘ring of the earth’ (Meissner 94-5); sandr is taken to mean sandy shore here (as it appears to in l. 3); see LP: sandr 3. The settlement is not identified in the stanza and its location remains uncertain. Several scholars accept the Hkr identification with the Isle of Man, while others write of a non-localisable settlement on the sea. (b) Finnur Jónsson (1884, 76-8) was at first doubtful about sandmens because sandr usually denotes the sandy sea-floor, so he considers preferring the reading landmens ‘of the land-ring’ (J1ˣ, 54, Bb); but see Nj 1875-8, II, 966. — [5] áðr ‘before’: Whereas earlier commentators (Nj 1875-8, II, 384; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) prefer a translation as adv. ‘earlier’ (see Note to [All] above), a consensus later develops that the word must be a conj. ‘before’ (LP: áðr; ÍF 26; NN §234 Anm.; von See 1977b, 68), particularly following Holtsmark’s study (1927, 51) of áðr-clauses. Moreover Hofmann (1978-9, 69) notes the importance of the position of the verb. When áðr appears as an adv., the verb follows it immediately, but as a conj. áðr calls for a verb-final construction. — [5] eljunfróðum ‘mettle-wise’: The adj. should be viewed as a copulative cpd, i.e. ‘mettlesome and wise’ rather than ‘wise in mettle’, as its semantic content results from the sum of its individual parts (Krahe and Meid 1969, 25). This is the reading of the main ms. , and it is supported by margspakr ‘very wise’ in l. 2 (ÓT 1892, 350). The mss also offer a variant eljunprúðum which might be secondary (cf. Note to st. 6/8). — [6] þverri Skota ‘the destroyer of Scots [= Haraldr]’: (a) Contrary to nearly all other eds, the present edn follows a suggestion of Hofmann (1978-9, 69-70) and assumes that the contiguous words Skota þverri form a kenning for Haraldr. This interpretation has the advantage of being compatible with herr varð flœja seið lǫgðis ‘the host had to flee from the incantation of the sword [BATTLE]’ in ms. Kˣ. (b) Other eds have chosen the reading eiðs ‘of the isthmus’ (761aˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ) instead of seið ‘incantation’ and combine it with lǫgðis ‘of the sword’ to form a shield-kenning ‘land of the sword’, which they further combine with þverri ‘destroyer’ to form a warrior-kenning (Nj 1875-8, II, 386, 388; ÓT 1892, 350; ÍF 26; von See 1977b, 68). However, a majority of mss have a form of seið (seið, seiðs, seiði), and it would be more likely for an original s- to be dropped here, where two s’s are in contact, than for one to have been inserted (Holtsmark 1927, 9). — [8] lœbrautar ‘of the pollack-path [SEA]’: The first element of the cpd has been subject to various interpretations: (a) - as from lœr, lýr ‘pollack’; lœbraut ‘pollack-path’ is then a sea-kenning which combines with láð ‘land’ to form an island-kenning (Nj 1875-8, II, 386-7; ÓT 1892, 350; ÍF 26; von See 1977b, 68; Hofmann 1978-9, 70; Hkr 1991 and this edn). The word form - seems to be unique. Elsewhere the word appears as lýr, often as a determinant in sea-kennings, as in lýbraut ‘pollack-path’ in Þuríðr Lv 1/5V (Heið 4), an exact parallel to the present kenning; see also LP: lýr. The form lœ- cannot be explained easily. It could be regarded as poetic licence and an attempt to adapt the word to the inf. flœja ‘flee’. Alternatively, lýbraut and flýja might originally have formed the aðalhending, then, since both flýja and flœja existed as derivatives of Gmc fliuhan (ANG §§98.2, 230.2, 488 Anm. 2, 513 Anm. 3) flœja could have replaced flýja, which in turn would have caused the change from - to - in order to preserve the aðalhending. (b) ‘harm, deceit, woe’. As læbraut ‘path of harm’, this cpd has been arranged into various kennings with lǫgðis (s)eiðs (see Meissner 74; Holtsmark 1927, 9-11; Fidjestøl 1982, 79-80). The complexity of these kennings makes each of them doubtful, however, and more importantly - could not form an exact aðalhending with flœja in the C10th.


  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. Nj 1875-89 = Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson. 1875-89. Njála: Udgivet efter gamle håndskrifter. Íslendingasögur udgivne efter gamle haandskrifter af Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskrift-selskab 4. Copenhagen: Thiele.
  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. Fidjestøl, Bjarne. 1982. Det norrøne fyrstediktet. Universitet i Bergen Nordisk institutts skriftserie 11. Øvre Ervik: Alvheim & Eide.
  10. Hofmann, Dietrich. 1978-9. ‘Sagaprosa als Partner von Skaldenstrophen’. MS 11, 68-81.
  11. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  12. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  13. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  14. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  15. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  16. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  17. Finnur Jónsson. 1884. Kritiske studier over en del af de ældste norske og islandske skjaldekvad. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  18. See, Klaus von. 1977b. ‘Skaldenstrophe und Sagaprosa: Ein Beitrag zum Problem der mündlichen Überlieferung in der altnordischen Literatur’. MS 10, 58-82. Rpt. in von See 1981a, 461-85.
  19. Krahe, Hans and Wolfgang Meid, eds. 1969. Germanische Sprachwissenschaft III: Wortbildungslehre. 7th edn. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  20. ÓT 1892 = Eggert Ó. Brím, ed. 1892. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar. Reykjavík: Ísafoldarprentsmiðja.
  21. Holtsmark, Anne. 1927. Þórbjørn Hornklofes Glymdrápa. Oslo: Aschehoug & Co.
  22. Naumann, Hans-Peter. 1998. ‘Glymdrápa’. In RGA, 12, 238-40.
  23. Internal references
  24. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  25. Not published: do not cite (HHárfII)
  26. Not published: do not cite (Þuríðr Lv 1V (Heið 3))

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