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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þhorn Harkv 2I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 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. 95.

Þorbjǫrn hornklofiHaraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál)

Vitr þóttisk valkyrja;         verar né óru þekkir
feimu inni framsóttu,         es fugls rǫdd kunni.
Kvaddi in kverkhvíta         ok in glæ*hvarma
Hymis hausreyti,         es sat á horni of bjarga.

Valkyrja þóttisk vitr; verar né óru þekkir inni framsóttu feimu, es kunni rǫdd fugls. In kverkhvíta ok in glæ*hvarma kvaddi {hausreyti Hymis}, es sat á horni of bjarga.

The valkyrie thought herself wise; men were not pleasing to the aggressive maid, who understood the voice of the bird. The white-throated and the bright-eyelashed one greeted {the skull-picker of Hymir <giant>} [RAVEN], which sat on the edge of a cliff.

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

Readings: [1] Vitr: víg FskBˣ    [3] feimu: ‘suamo’ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‘‑ren no[…]’ FskAˣ, 52ˣ, ‘‑fenn no[…]’ 301ˣ;    ‑sóttu: ‑leitu FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [6] glæ*hvarma: gløggarma 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‘glæghvarma’ FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [7] ‑reyti: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, ‘rꝍya’ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, ‘ro᷎yti’ corrected from ‘ro᷎ya’ 302ˣ, ‘‑rꝍyta’ 301ˣ    [8] horni of: horni vin‑ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‘hormum’ FskAˣ, 52ˣ, ‘bormum’ 301ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 24, Skj BI, 22, Skald I, 14, NN §§1023, 1024; Fsk 1902-3, 6-7, ÍF 29, 60 (ch. 2); Möbius 1860, 228, Jón Helgason 1946, 134-5, Jón Helgason 1968, 15.

Context: As for st. 1.

Notes: [1] þóttisk ‘thought herself’: Alternatively, ‘appeared’. — [1] valkyrja ‘the valkyrie’: On valkyries, see Note to Eyv Hák 1/1. — [2] óru ‘were’: On the form, see ANG §77.11. The form without v- is required, or illicit alliteration would result. — [3] feimu ‘maid’: I.e. ‘girl’. The readings of the FskA transcripts are best understood as corruptions of feimonni (i.e. feimunni, with the article attached). The reading supplies the necessary alliteration; it was proposed by von Friesen (1902, 62-6) and subsequently widely adopted (see Jón Helgason 1968, 15 on the paleography). — [3] framsóttu ‘aggressive’: Lit. ‘forward-seeking’. Cf. ModIcel. framsækinn ‘eager to advance’. That this is how the word was understood is demonstrated by the reading ‑leitu for ‑sóttu, of similar meaning, in the FskA transcripts. Some eds emend to fránleitu ‘bright-eyed’ (Fsk 1902-3, Skj B, and Skald, following Möbius 1860 and LP (1860): fránleitr; Sueti 1884, 23 has -leita). — [4] es ‘who’: Here taken with feimu ‘maid’ (l. 3). Kershaw (1922, 83) may be right that it has causal significance here, meaning ‘for, because’. Most eds would have es directly modify valkyria ‘valkyrie’ in l. 1, yet although this has the advantage of drawing a more direct connection between vitr ‘wise’ and the valkyrie’s understanding of bird language, it makes of ll. 2-3 an intercalary clause, producing a syntactic style that is not very common in this poem (though see st. 11). — [5-6]: To rectify the faulty alliteration, Fsk 1847 and Munch and Unger (1847, 112), followed by Wisén (1870, 49), Fsk 1902-3 and Lindquist (1929, 2), reverse the order of kverkhvíta and glæhvarma. Note that glæ- in the latter word is emended from ‘glæg’- in the FskA transcripts, and Möbius (1860) and Wisén (1870, 49) read gløgg- ‘sagacious’. — [7] hausreyti Hymis ‘the skull-picker of Hymir <giant> [RAVEN]’: Hymir is an adversary of Þórr and subject of the late eddic poem Hymiskviða (and SnE 2005, 44-5), but on what occasion a raven picked flesh from the skull of Hymir is unknown. There may be confusion with the primeval giant Ymir, from whose skull the sky was made (Vafþr 21, 28, Vsp 3, Arn Magndr 19/4II; SnE 2005, 10, 11, 12, 15, and 170 on confusion between Hymir and Ymir in mss). Kock (NN §1024) accordingly emends to Ymis here, also reversing the order of the words for the sake of the alliteration. Skj B reads -rofa ‘reaver, robber’ for ‑reyti, and Möbius (1860) reads -reyta (so 301ˣ), as if -reyti were the nom. of a weak noun. — [8] of bjarga ‘of a cliff’: In the pl., bjarg ‘rock’ is used in a collective sense to mean ‘precipice, cliff’: see CVC: bjarg. Here it is gen. pl., hence á horni bjarga ‘on the edge of a cliff’. The next syllable is problematic. (a) The FskA transcripts read ‘-um’, which is here taken as the expletive particle, normalised to the more archaic of; this appears before nouns, though more commonly before verbs (LP: of C). All the ms. readings, ‘horni vin-’, ‘hormum’ and ‘bormum’, are readily understood as due to copyists’ misdivisions of the minims of horni um. The form ‘hormum’ is presumably for hǫmrum ‘crags’, the reading adopted by Wisén (1870, 49), following LP (1860): hausreyti. (b) Previous eds, following the FskB transcripts, generally read vinbjarga, which LP: vinbjǫrg defines as klipper ved (omgivende) eng(e) ‘rocks with (surrounding) field(s)’. The first constituent of the cpd would then be vin f. ‘meadow’, a word common in Norwegian place names (see Jón Helgason 1946, 134-5). Kershaw (1922, 83) adopts the vin- reading, but it is not represented in her translation, ‘as he sat on a jutting ledge of rock’; similarly Magerøy (1963, 82): som sat høgt på eit berg. Von Friesen (1902, 66-9; so Noreen 1926, 163) would emend to vindbjarga ‘wind-rocks’, which he interprets as a kenning for ‘clouds’.


  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. 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.
  6. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  7. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. 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.
  9. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  10. Fsk 1847 = Munch, P. A. and C. R. Unger, eds. 1847. Fagrskinna. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  11. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  12. Munch, P. A. and C. R. Unger, eds. 1847. Oldnorsk læsebog med tilhörende glossarium. Christiania (Oslo): Dahl.
  13. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  14. Möbius, Theodor. 1860. Edda Sæmundar hins fróða. Mit einem Anhang bisher ungedruckter Gedichte. Leipzig: Hinrichs.
  15. Kershaw, Nora, ed. and trans. 1922. Anglo-Saxon and Norse Poems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  16. Lindquist, Ivar. 1929. Norröna lovkväden från 800 och 900 talen. I: Förslag till restituerad täxt jämte översättning. Lund: Gleerup.
  17. Jón Helgason, ed. 1968. Skjaldevers. 3rd edn. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  18. Noreen, Erik. 1926. Den norsk-isländska poesien. Stockholm: Norstedt.
  19. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1870. Úrval af norrænum fornkvæðum handa hinum bókmennta-iðkendum. Lund: Berling.
  20. Friesen, Otto von. 1902. ‘Om några fornvestnordiska vers’. ANF 18, 62-75.
  21. Jón Helgason. 1946. ‘Haraldskvæði’. Tímarit Máls og menningar, 131-46.
  22. Magerøy, Hallvard, trans. 1963. ‘Haraldskvedet’. In Haugen 1994, 82-6.
  23. Sueti, Friedrich. 1884. Ueber die auf den König Haraldr Hárfagri bezüglichen Gedichtfragmente in der norwegischen Königschronik Fagrskinna. Leipzig: August Press.
  24. Internal references
  25. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 19’ 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, p. 229.
  26. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál 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. 174.
  27. Not published: do not cite ()
  28. Not published: do not cite ()

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