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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Yt 18I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 18’ 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. 40.

Þjóðólfr ór HviniYnglingatal

text and translation

Þat stǫkk upp,
at Yngvari
Sýslu kind
of sóit hafði.
Ok Ljósham*
við lagar hjarta
herr eistneskr
at hilmi vá.
Ok austmarr
jǫfri sœnskum
Gymis ljóð
at gamni kveðr.

Þat stǫkk upp, at kind Sýslu hafði of sóit Yngvari. Ok eistneskr herr vá at hilmi, Ljósham*, við {hjarta lagar}. Ok austmarr kveðr ljóð Gymis at gamni sœnskum jǫfri.
‘Word spread quickly, that the people of Sýsla had slain Yngvarr. And an Estonian force attacked the ruler, Ljóshamr (‘the Light-skinned’), at the heart of the water [ISLAND]. And the Baltic sea sings the songs of Gymir <sea-giant> to the delight of the Swedish ruler.

notes and context

Yngvarr, son of King Eysteinn, becomes ruler of Sweden. Having made peace with the Danes, he goes raiding in the Baltic. On a foray to Eistland (Estonia), he is attacked by a large Estonian force near Steinn and killed in battle. He is buried in Aðalsýsla (see Note to l. 3 below) in a mound by the sea. In LaufE, ll. 5-8 are cited in a section illustrating terms for stones or rocks (steina heiti).

[9-12]: These lines almost seem modern and romantic in their imagery: the rush of the sea is represented as the singing of songs for the enjoyment of a dead person. But caution is needed in projecting this notion back to such an early period because much remains uncertain: whether the king is buried in a mound or has, like most of his ancestors, been cremated on a funeral pyre, and whether his enjoying the rush of the sea is to be taken at face value or as ironic. (On an interpretation of the poem as an ironic composition see Introduction.) At gamni ‘to the delight’ is reminiscent of the erotic relationship between the goddess of death and a deceased prince elsewhere in Yt (see sts 7/4, 24/1 and Notes).



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, 1. Ynglingatal 25: AI, 12, BI, 11, Skald I, 7, NN §1917; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 60, IV, 19, ÍF 26, 61-2, Hkr 1991, I, 35 (Yng ch. 32), F 1871, 23; Yng 1912, 39, 66, Yng 2000, 48-9; Yt 1914, 12, Yt 1925, 204, 240-1; LaufE 1979, 398.


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