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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þhorn Harkv 20I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 20’ 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. 114.

Þorbjǫrn hornklofiHaraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál)

‘At berserkja reiðu vil ek þik spyrja,         bergir hræsævar:
hversu es fengit,         þeim es í folk vaða,
        vígdjǫrfum verum?’

‘Ek vil spyrja þik at reiðu berserkja, {bergir {hræsævar}}: hversu es fengit vígdjǫrfum verum, þeim es í folk vaða?’

‘I want to ask you about the equipment of berserks, {taster {of the corpse-sea}} [BLOOD > RAVEN]: what provision is made for war-daring men, those who surge into battle?’

Mss: 51ˣ(3r), FskBˣ(3v), 302ˣ(5r-v), FskAˣ(10), 52ˣ(4v), 301ˣ(4r) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] reiðu: reiðu corrected from ræðu 51ˣ, 302ˣ;    þik: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, om. 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ    [3] es (‘er’): so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, þér 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ;    fengit: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, fenguð 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ    [5] ‑djǫrfum: so 52ˣ, 301ˣ, ‑þjǫrfum 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‘‑ðiorvum’ FskAˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 28, Skj BI, 25, Skald I, 16; Fsk 1902-3, 11, ÍF 29, 63 (ch. 2); Möbius 1860, 230, Jón Helgason 1946, 139, Jón Helgason 1968, 20.

Context: In Fsk, this and the following stanza support the remark that Haraldr had such devoted adherents that they fought in the vanguard wearing wolf-skins for armour.

Notes: [All]: That the valkyrie is speaking here is clear from the address to the raven in l. 2. — [1] berserkja ‘of berserks’: On berserks, see Note to st. 8/5, 7. — [3-5]: Here the metre changes from málaháttr to ljóðaháttr. — [3] hversu es fengit ‘what provision is made’: Lit. ‘how is provided’. The underlying form seems to be ‘er’, which could be read as normalised es ‘is’ or the pl. pron. ér ‘you’. The FskB transcripts have þér ‘you’, the younger form of the pron., and Möbius (1860) favours the pron. (ér), as do Munch and Unger (1847, 113) and Sueti (1884, 30), who also emend fengit (fenguð ‘you got’ in the FskB transcripts) to fagnið, giving hversu þér fagnið ‘how you welcome’. — [5] -djǫrfum ‘daring’: Skald adopts the reading ‑þjǫrfum ‘insipid, flat’ of the majority of the transcripts. The word does not otherwise appear in skaldic verse, while vígdjarfr is quite common (see LP: vígdjarfr).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. 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.
  4. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  5. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  6. Munch, P. A. and C. R. Unger, eds. 1847. Oldnorsk læsebog med tilhörende glossarium. Christiania (Oslo): Dahl.
  7. Möbius, Theodor. 1860. Edda Sæmundar hins fróða. Mit einem Anhang bisher ungedruckter Gedichte. Leipzig: Hinrichs.
  8. Jón Helgason, ed. 1968. Skjaldevers. 3rd edn. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  9. Jón Helgason. 1946. ‘Haraldskvæði’. Tímarit Máls og menningar, 131-46.
  10. Sueti, Friedrich. 1884. Ueber die auf den König Haraldr Hárfagri bezüglichen Gedichtfragmente in der norwegischen Königschronik Fagrskinna. Leipzig: August Press.
  11. Internal references
  12. 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.

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