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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjsk Sveindr 1I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorleifr jarlsskáld Rauðfeldarson, Drápa about Sveinn tjúguskegg 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. 374.

Þorleifr jarlsskáld RauðfeldarsonDrápa about Sveinn tjúguskegg1

Opt ‘often’

opt (adv.): often

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œrnri ‘ample’

œrinn (adj.): ample, sufficient

notes

[1] œrnri ‘ample’: (a) This is taken here, as in ÍS, as the f. dat. sg. form of œrinn ‘ample, sufficient’. Although the normal form would be œrinni, syncope by analogy with forms such as m. nom. pl. œrnir is possible (cf. ANG §428.2 Anm. 1 for forms such as ýms(r)a beside ýmissa; cf. also ModIcel. gen. pl. ærnra). (b) The eds of Skj B, Skald and ÍF 9 emend to f. acc. sg. œrna; með can govern either acc. or dat. sg.

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giptu ‘luck’

1. gifta (noun f.): grace, fortune

notes

[1] giptu ‘luck’: As the ‘luck’ here is God’s, the sense is presumably Christian: grace or blessing from God, which brings Sveinn victory. This has been compared with crusader literature (Ejerfeldt 1971, 142; see also Lange 1958a, 50-3). Sveinn was almost certainly a Christian (Sawyer and Sawyer 2003, 151), but judging by his þáttr Þorleifr had no opportunity to come into contact with the new faith, other than this visit to Denmark.

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ǫðlings ‘of the Lord’

ǫðlingr (noun m.; °; -ar): prince, ruler

[2] ǫðlings: ǫðling 4867ˣ

kennings

ǫðlings rǫðla himins.
‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky. ’
   = God

the discs of the sky. → HEAVENLY BODIES
the Lord of HEAVENLY BODIES → God

notes

[2] ǫðlings rǫðla himins ‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky [HEAVENLY BODIES > = God]’: The kenning rǫðla himins is at first sight unsatisfactory, since rǫðull can itself mean ‘sun’ or (in pl.) ‘heavenly bodies’, but rǫðull may have the more specific meaning ‘disc, circle’, deriving from its etymological links with words denoting circular objects (AEW: rǫðull 1). Fidjestøl (1982, 102) thinks this kenning seems young, and it is true that non-mythological kennings for the heavenly bodies (including some using hvél ‘wheel’ as base-word) are more frequent in late, especially Christian, poetry (Meissner 103-4, 378-82), though it is possible that the present stanza is an early instance of this trend.

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himins ‘of the sky’

himinn (noun m.; °himins, dat. himni; himnar): heaven, sky

kennings

ǫðlings rǫðla himins.
‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky. ’
   = God

the discs of the sky. → HEAVENLY BODIES
the Lord of HEAVENLY BODIES → God

notes

[2] ǫðlings rǫðla himins ‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky [HEAVENLY BODIES > = God]’: The kenning rǫðla himins is at first sight unsatisfactory, since rǫðull can itself mean ‘sun’ or (in pl.) ‘heavenly bodies’, but rǫðull may have the more specific meaning ‘disc, circle’, deriving from its etymological links with words denoting circular objects (AEW: rǫðull 1). Fidjestøl (1982, 102) thinks this kenning seems young, and it is true that non-mythological kennings for the heavenly bodies (including some using hvél ‘wheel’ as base-word) are more frequent in late, especially Christian, poetry (Meissner 103-4, 378-82), though it is possible that the present stanza is an early instance of this trend.

Close

himins ‘of the sky’

himinn (noun m.; °himins, dat. himni; himnar): heaven, sky

kennings

ǫðlings rǫðla himins.
‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky. ’
   = God

the discs of the sky. → HEAVENLY BODIES
the Lord of HEAVENLY BODIES → God

notes

[2] ǫðlings rǫðla himins ‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky [HEAVENLY BODIES > = God]’: The kenning rǫðla himins is at first sight unsatisfactory, since rǫðull can itself mean ‘sun’ or (in pl.) ‘heavenly bodies’, but rǫðull may have the more specific meaning ‘disc, circle’, deriving from its etymological links with words denoting circular objects (AEW: rǫðull 1). Fidjestøl (1982, 102) thinks this kenning seems young, and it is true that non-mythological kennings for the heavenly bodies (including some using hvél ‘wheel’ as base-word) are more frequent in late, especially Christian, poetry (Meissner 103-4, 378-82), though it is possible that the present stanza is an early instance of this trend.

Close

rǫðla ‘of the discs’

rǫðull (noun m.; °dat. rǫðli): heavenly body

kennings

ǫðlings rǫðla himins.
‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky. ’
   = God

the discs of the sky. → HEAVENLY BODIES
the Lord of HEAVENLY BODIES → God

notes

[2] ǫðlings rǫðla himins ‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky [HEAVENLY BODIES > = God]’: The kenning rǫðla himins is at first sight unsatisfactory, since rǫðull can itself mean ‘sun’ or (in pl.) ‘heavenly bodies’, but rǫðull may have the more specific meaning ‘disc, circle’, deriving from its etymological links with words denoting circular objects (AEW: rǫðull 1). Fidjestøl (1982, 102) thinks this kenning seems young, and it is true that non-mythological kennings for the heavenly bodies (including some using hvél ‘wheel’ as base-word) are more frequent in late, especially Christian, poetry (Meissner 103-4, 378-82), though it is possible that the present stanza is an early instance of this trend.

Close

rǫðla ‘of the discs’

rǫðull (noun m.; °dat. rǫðli): heavenly body

kennings

ǫðlings rǫðla himins.
‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky. ’
   = God

the discs of the sky. → HEAVENLY BODIES
the Lord of HEAVENLY BODIES → God

notes

[2] ǫðlings rǫðla himins ‘of the Lord of the discs of the sky [HEAVENLY BODIES > = God]’: The kenning rǫðla himins is at first sight unsatisfactory, since rǫðull can itself mean ‘sun’ or (in pl.) ‘heavenly bodies’, but rǫðull may have the more specific meaning ‘disc, circle’, deriving from its etymological links with words denoting circular objects (AEW: rǫðull 1). Fidjestøl (1982, 102) thinks this kenning seems young, and it is true that non-mythological kennings for the heavenly bodies (including some using hvél ‘wheel’ as base-word) are more frequent in late, especially Christian, poetry (Meissner 103-4, 378-82), though it is possible that the present stanza is an early instance of this trend.

Close

Jóta ‘of the Jótar’

jóti (noun m.; °; -ar): one of the Jótar

[3] Jóta: so 563aˣ, jótra Flat, Jóta corrected from jǫtna 4867ˣ

kennings

Inn ítri gramr Jóta
‘The splendid ruler of the Jótar ’
   = DANISH KING = Sveinn

The splendid ruler of the Jótar → DANISH KING = Sveinn

notes

[3] Jóta ‘of the Jótar’: I.e. the people of Jótland (Jutland). Flat’s ‘jotra’ makes no sense, while king-kennings with Jótar are both common and appropriate to the Danish King Sveinn, so the paper mss seem to preserve the original reading here. Previous eds also read Jóta, regarding it as an emendation.

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gramr ‘ruler’

1. gramr (noun m.): ruler

[3] gramr: corrected from ‘grier’ 4867ˣ

kennings

Inn ítri gramr Jóta
‘The splendid ruler of the Jótar ’
   = DANISH KING = Sveinn

The splendid ruler of the Jótar → DANISH KING = Sveinn
Close

inn ‘The’

2. inn (art.): the

[3] inn: om. 563aˣ

kennings

Inn ítri gramr Jóta
‘The splendid ruler of the Jótar ’
   = DANISH KING = Sveinn

The splendid ruler of the Jótar → DANISH KING = Sveinn
Close

eytri ‘’

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ítri ‘splendid’

ítr (adj.): glorious

[3] ítri: ‘eytre’ 4867ˣ

kennings

Inn ítri gramr Jóta
‘The splendid ruler of the Jótar ’
   = DANISH KING = Sveinn

The splendid ruler of the Jótar → DANISH KING = Sveinn
Close

Englandi ‘in England’

England (noun n.): England

[4] Englandi: á Englandi 4867ˣ, 563aˣ

notes

[4] Englandi ‘in England’: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’s first mention of Sveinn raiding in England is in 994 (ASC ‘E’, ‘F’, s. a.), while Þorleifr was apparently killed in Iceland by agents of Hákon jarl, who died c. 995. This chronology renders Þorleifr’s authorship of the present stanza somewhat unlikely, though it has been argued that Sveinn took part in an earlier attack on English soil c. 991 (ÍF 9, xcvii; Sawyer 1993, 41), and it could be this which is referred to here.

Close

rauð ‘reddened’

rjóða (verb): to redden

[4] rauð: so 4867ˣ, roðit Flat, rjóða 563aˣ

notes

[4] rauð ‘reddened’: (a) This, the 4867ˣ reading, is to be preferred, and it is adopted in most previous eds. Since the textual relations are elusive it is not clear whether it is in fact a scribal emendation. (b) Flat has roðit, the p. p. of the same verb, rjóða ‘to redden’, but because this would require resolution in position 4 it is metrically less satisfactory (see Gade 1995a, 60-6), and an auxiliary is lacking.

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

Soon after arriving at Sveinn’s court, Þorleifr asks his permission to recite a poem about him. It is well received and Sveinn gives Þorleifr a ring and a sword in payment. 

As noted above, the stanza is introduced as a, or the, stef ‘refrain’ from a forty-stanza drápa.

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