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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Haustl 20III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Haustlǫng 20’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 461.

Þjóðólfr ór HviniHaustlǫng

text and translation

áðr ór hneigihliðum
hárs ǫl-Gefjun sára
reiði-Týs it rauða
ryðs hœlibǫl gœli.
Gǫrla lítk á Geitis
garði þær of farðir.
Baugs þák bifum fáða
bifkleif at Þórleifi.

áðr {ǫl-Gefjun} gœli {it rauða hœlibǫl ryðs} ór {hneigihliðum hárs} {reiði-Týs sára}. Lítk gǫrla þær of farðir á {garði Geitis}. Þák {bifkleif baugs}, fáða bifum, at Þórleifi.
‘until the ale-Gefjun <goddess> [WOMAN = Gróa] could enchant the red boasting destruction of rust [WHETSTONE] from the inclined slopes of the hair [HEAD] of the bearing-Týr <god> of wounds [= Þórr]. I see clearly these happenings [depicted] on the fence of Geitir <sea-king> [SHIELD]. I received the quivering cliff of the shield-boss [SHIELD], decorated with moving stories, from Þorleifr.

notes and context

As for st. 14.

The first helmingr of st. 20 completes the syntactical, grammatical and general sense of the mythic narrative, held over from st. 19/5-8. According to the prose account in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 22), the whetstone remained lodged in Þórr’s head after he had returned home to Þrúðvangar ‘Mighty plains’. A visiting sorceress (vǫlva) named Gróa, the ǫl-Gefjun of st. 20/2, undertook to loosen the whetstone by chanting her spells over it: hon gól galdra sína yfir Þór til þess er heinin losnaði ‘she chanted her spells over Þórr until the whetstone became loose’. Þórr was so encouraged at the prospect of being rid of the stone that he told Gróa that he had rescued her husband, Aurvandill, from the land of the giants and had brought him part-way back in a basket. Gróa was so pleased to think she would soon be reunited with her husband that she forgot her spells and the whetstone remained stuck in Þórr’s skull, where it lodges still according to Skm. — [5-8]: Haustl’s final helmingr corresponds in theme and structure to the second helmingr of st. 13; in ll. 5-6 the poet states that he can see the scenes he has just described on the shield he has been given; in ll. 7-8, which constitute the stef, he highlights the fact that Þorleifr has given him the shield and, with it, the subjects of his drápa. — [7-8]: The poem’s stef, signalling the conclusion of Haustl’s second subject and, presumably, of the poem as a whole. There are minor ms. variants, but essentially the same two lines are repeated from st. 13/7-8 (see Note there).



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski, 2. Haustlǫng 20: AI, 20, BI, 18, Skald I, 12, NN §1918; SnE 1848-87, I, 282-5, III, 23-4, SnE 1931, 105, SnE 1998, I, 24.


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