Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þhorn Harkv 17I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 17’ 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. 111.

Þorbjǫrn hornklofiHaraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál)

‘Þá eru þeir reifir,         es vitu rómu væni,
ǫrvir upp at hlaupa         ok árar at sveigja,
hǫmlur at brjóta         en hái at slíta;
ríkuliga hygg ek þá vǫrru þeysa         at vísa ráði.’

‘Þá eru þeir reifir, es vitu væni rómu, ǫrvir at hlaupa upp ok at sveigja árar, at brjóta hǫmlur en at slíta hái; ek hygg þá þeysa vǫrru ríkuliga at ráði vísa.’

‘Then they are glad, when they know [there is] prospect of battle, ready to leap up and to bend oars, to break thongs and to shatter oarports; I think they speed the oar-strokes powerfully at the bidding of the leader.’

Mss: 51ˣ(2v), FskBˣ(3r), 302ˣ(4v), FskAˣ(9), 52ˣ(4r), 301ˣ(3v) (Fsk)

Readings: [2] vitu: vita FskBˣ    [3] ǫrvir: ‘orpir’ FskBˣ    [4] sveigja: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, ‘svægia’ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‘sveghia’ 301ˣ    [5] hǫmlur: ‘homlr’ FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [6] at: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, om. 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ    [7] ríku‑: so 52ˣ, 301ˣ, ‘ræiku‑’ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 27, Skj BI, 24, Skald I, 15, NN §3205; Fsk 1902-3, 10, ÍF 29, 62 (ch. 2); Möbius 1860, 230, Jón Helgason 1946, 138, Jón Helgason 1968, 19.

Context: As for st. 15.

Notes: [4] at sveigja árar ‘to bend oars’: The implication is that their rowing is so energetic that the oars bend with the force of it. — [5-6] at brjóta hǫmlur en at slíta hái ‘to break thongs and to shatter oarports’: A hamla is a leather thong, loop or strap, while a hár is an oarport, which is ‘[a hole] in the top strake or sometimes lower’ (see Jesch 2001a, 155-6). Some eds reverse the position of the two verbs to give brjóta hái ‘break oarports’ and slíta hǫmlur ‘snap, split, tear thongs’, comparing Am 37/5-6 hǫmlor slitnoðo, háir brotnoðo ‘thongs split, oarports broke’ (NK 252; so Wisén 1886-9; Fsk 1902-3; Skj B; Skald). The verbs do indeed seem better applied thus; yet Jón Helgason (1946, 138) notes that hamla has been retained in Norway, where it designates a wider variety of mechanisms for retaining oars than simply thongs, and thus emendation may not be advisable. — [7] ríkuliga ‘powerfully’: Fsk 1902-3, Skj B and Skald print ríkula, with the same meaning, presumably on grounds of metre. Further, Kock (NN §3205) would delete hygg ek þá ‘I think them’, making vǫrru þeysa ‘to make oar-strokes rush forth’ parallel to the preceding inf. constructions. This creates a parallel construction that is mirrored in the other stanzas, rather than beginning a new sentence in l. 7. This may be correct, but since the text is not obviously faulty, the present edn does not emend.


  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. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  6. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1886-9. Carmina Norrœnæ: Ex reliquiis vetustioris norrœnæ poësis selecta, recognita, commentariis et glossario instructa. 2 vols. Lund: Ohlsson.
  7. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  8. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  10. Möbius, Theodor. 1860. Edda Sæmundar hins fróða. Mit einem Anhang bisher ungedruckter Gedichte. Leipzig: Hinrichs.
  11. Jón Helgason, ed. 1968. Skjaldevers. 3rd edn. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  12. Jón Helgason. 1946. ‘Haraldskvæði’. Tímarit Máls og menningar, 131-46.
  13. Internal references
  14. Not published: do not cite ()

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