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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þhorn Harkv 1I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 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. 94.

Þorbjǫrn hornklofiHaraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál)

Hlýði hringberendr,         meðan ek frá Haraldi segi
odda íþróttir         inum afarauðga.
Frá môlum mun ek segja,         þeim es ek mey heyrða
hvíta haddbjarta,         es við hrafn dœmði.

{Hringberendr} hlýði, meðan ek segi íþróttir odda frá Haraldi inum afarauðga. Ek mun segja frá môlum, þeim es ek heyrða hvíta, haddbjarta mey, es dœmði við hrafn.

Let {sword-bearers} [WARRIORS] listen, while I recount feats of weapon-points concerning Haraldr the exceedingly wealthy. I shall recount the words that I heard a white, bright-haired girl [utter] when she spoke with a raven.

Mss: 51ˣ(1v), FskBˣ(2r), 302ˣ(2v), FskAˣ(6), 52ˣ(3r), 301ˣ(3r) (Fsk)

Readings: [2] ek: om. FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ;    segi: segi ek FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [3] odda: oddi FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ;    íþróttir: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, íþróttar 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ    [4] afarauðga: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, hárfagra 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ    [8] dœmði: rœddi FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 24, Skj BI, 22, Skald I, 14, NN §1815; Fsk 1902-3, 6, ÍF 29, 59-60 (ch. 2); Möbius 1860, 228, Jón Helgason 1946, 133-4, Jón Helgason 1968, 15.

Context: In Fsk, this stanza and the next five are offered in evidence of the remark that champions flocked to Haraldr hárfagri because of his munificence and the splendour of his court.

Notes: [1] hringberendr ‘sword-bearers [WARRIORS]’: Hringr refers to a ring on a sword-hilt, and hence by pars pro toto is used as sword-heiti, and this is assumed here (so Skj B, and see LP: 2. hringr, Tveiten 1966, 18, and Note to Þul Sverða 7/7III). If on the other hand hring- is literal, i.e. ‘ring’, the meaning is ‘nobles’ (see ÍF 29, 59 n.). — [3] íþróttir odda ‘feats of weapon-points’: This could be considered a battle-kenning, as by Meissner (Meissner 201), though there are no close parallels. — [4] afarauðga ‘exceedingly wealthy’: The use of this epithet is appropriate to the context of addressing courtiers, for whom a ruler’s wealth (and thus his munificence) is of the first importance. The variant hárfagra ‘Fair-hair’ does not supply the necessary (vocalic) alliteration. It may be influenced by the fact that it appears in early poetry (Þjóð Har 5/7 and Jór Send 2/4) and became the conventional nickname of Haraldr; see ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume. — [6] þeim es ek heyrða ... mey ‘that I heard a ... girl’: This is elliptical, lacking an inf. of a verb of saying. (a) In the translation given here, segja (frá) of l. 5 is assumed to be supplied again in the next line, hence ‘recount … [utter]’ (so Ulset 1975, 27). (b) Skj B interprets the construction as ‘the words that I heard from a girl’, to which Kock (NN §1815) objects on the ground that mey cannot mean ‘from a girl’. (c) Kock assumes a mixed construction, in which dœma môlum ‘speak (in) words’ is conflated with ek heyrða mey, es dœmði ‘I heard a girl who spoke’, equivalent to ek heyrða, at mær dœmði ‘I heard that a girl spoke’. Note that es ‘when’ in l. 8 may instead mean ‘who’, while Kershaw (1922, 83) interprets it as ‘as, when’.


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  9. Ulset, Tor. 1975. Merknader til en del skaldedikt. Oslo: Novus.
  10. Möbius, Theodor. 1860. Edda Sæmundar hins fróða. Mit einem Anhang bisher ungedruckter Gedichte. Leipzig: Hinrichs.
  11. Kershaw, Nora, ed. and trans. 1922. Anglo-Saxon and Norse Poems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  12. Jón Helgason, ed. 1968. Skjaldevers. 3rd edn. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  13. Tveiten, Hallvard, trans. 1966. Norrøne skaldekvad. Oslo: Saabye.
  14. Jón Helgason. 1946. ‘Haraldskvæði’. Tímarit Máls og menningar, 131-46.
  15. Internal references
  16. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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. clix-clxi.
  17. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Sverða heiti 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 802.
  18. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Jórunn skáldmær, Sendibítr 2’ 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. 146.
  19. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Poem about Haraldr hárfagri 5’ 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. 63.

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