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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Sex 27II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 27’ 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, pp. 140-3.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonSexstefja

text and translation

Ǫrð sær Yrsu burðar
inndrótt jǫfurr sinni
bjartplógaðan bauga
brattakr vǫluspakra.
Eyss landreki ljósu
lastvarr Kraka barri
á hlæmyldar holdi
hauks kǫlfur mér sjǫlfum.

Jǫfurr sær {ǫrð {burðar Yrsu}} {bjartplógaðan brattakr vǫluspakra bauga} inndrótt sinni. Lastvarr landreki eyss {ljósu barri Kraka} mér sjǫlfum á {kǫlfur hauks}, hlæmyldar holdi.
‘The prince sows with the grain of the offspring of Yrsa [= Hrólfr kraki > GOLD] the bright-ploughed steep field of joint-calm rings [ARM] of his retinue. The fault-shunning land-ruler sprinkles bright barley of Kraki (‘Pole-ladder’) <legendary king> [GOLD] on my own territories of the hawk [ARMS], warmly soil-covered with flesh.

notes and context

The kenning-type ‘Kraki’s seed’ for ‘gold’ is explained in SnE by a narrative of how the Dan. king Hrólfr kraki, generous, humble and valiant, eluded his stepfather-turned-enemy King Aðils of Sweden by strewing the plains of Fýrisvellir with gold provided by his mother Yrsa, which Aðils stooped to pick up. The st. is cited once in full to illustrate kennings referring to gold as the seed of Kraki or of Fýrisvellir (SnE 1998, I, 60). In U(44r) Ok enn ‘And further’ separates the two helmingar. Lines 5-6 are quoted a second time in SnE, with the cross-reference sem fyrr var ritat ‘as was written before’, in a section devoted to heiti for rulers (and used alike for emperors, kings and jarls). The quotation is followed by a comment that a ruler is called landreki because he drives (rekr) his army over the territory of other kings, or drives an army out of his own land. U lacks the section in question, but the second helmingr also appears in an earlier section devoted to kennings for gold. In LaufE, the two helmingar also illustrate gold-kennings and are cited separately, with the following terse words in between þad er hond. Same ‘that is, “hand”. The same [skald]’.

The B text (ll. 5-6 only) is badly damaged here, so the 744ˣ transcription has been used to establish that it has no significant variant readings. — The two helmingar of this colourful and witty st. are parallel in many ways, as explained by Kock (NN §2267) and Fidjestøl (1982, 137-8); and they appear in reverse order in ms. W. Whether the parallels can be assumed to be so exact as to determine the solution to the textual crux in l. 4 (vǫluspakra), as argued by Fidjestøl, is an interesting problem.



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: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson, 3. Sexstefja 27: AI, 375, BI, 345, Skald I, 174, NN §§863, 2267, 3230; SnE 1848-87, I, 398-401, 516-17, II, 321, 362, 546, 581, 605, SnE 1931, 142, 181, SnE 1998, I, 60, 101, 188, 220; LaufE 1979, 348.


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