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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þloft Glækv 9I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórarinn loftunga, Glælognskviða 9’ 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. 875.

Þórarinn loftungaGlælognskviða

Bið Ôleif,
at unni þér
— hanns goðs maðr —
grundar sinnar
— hann of getr
af goði sjalfum
ár ok frið
ǫllum mǫnnum —,
þás þú rekr
fyr reginnagla
bóka máls
bœnir þínar.

Bið Ôleif, at unni þér grundar sinnar — hanns maðr goðs; hann of getr af goði sjalfum ár ok frið ǫllum mǫnnum —, þás þú rekr bœnir þínar fyr {reginnagla {máls bóka}}.

Pray to Óláfr that he grant you his ground [Norway], — he is God’s man; he obtains from God himself prosperity and peace for all people — when you present your prayers before {the sacred nail {of the language of books}} [LATIN > SAINT = Óláfr].

Mss: (487v), 39(11rb), E(2r) (Hkr); Holm2(71v-72r), 325VI(39vb), 321ˣ(273), 61(128vb), 325V(86rb) (ll. 1-4, 9-12), 325VII(40r), 325XI 2 n(1r), Bb(203va), Flat(127va), Tóm(159r) (ÓH)

Readings: [2] unni: árni E, 61, Flat, Tóm    [3] maðr: vinr 325VI, 321ˣ    [4] grundar: grundir Tóm;    sinnar: sinna 325VI, sínar 61, 325V, Tóm    [5] hann of: þvít hann 39, E    [6] af: at 325VII;    sjalfum: ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 n    [7] ár ok: ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 n    [9] þás (‘þa er’): so 39, E, Holm2, 325VI, 321ˣ, 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, þar er Kˣ;    rekr: reki 321ˣ, réttir 61, 325VII, Flat, reitir Tóm    [10] fyr: om. 325VI;    regin: rekin 325VI    [11] bóka: ‘bocka’ 61, boga Flat, Tóm    [12] bœnir þínar: bœnir E, bœn þinnar 321ˣ, bœnar þinnar 325V

Editions: Skj AI, 327, Skj BI, 301, Skald I, 153, NN §2017; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 521, IV, 175-6, ÍF 27, 408-9 (ÓHHkr ch. 245), E 1916, 3; ÓH 1941, I, 604 (ch. 245), Flat 1860-8, II, 377; Magerøy 1948, 16, 17-18, 30-6.

Context: See Context to st. 2 above.

Notes: [All]: In Skj and Skald, ll. 1-8 are printed as st. 9 and ll. 9-12 as st. 10, but the twelve lines are very tightly linked syntactically, with ll. 9-12 forming a subordinate clause dependent on ll. 1-2, 4, while ll. 5-8 form an independent main clause, as does l. 3. The collective evidence of the mss is equivocal in terms of stanza divisions, and in 39 and E, ll. 9-12 occur between ll. 1-4 and 5-8, while in 325V ll. 5-8 are omitted. — [2] þér ‘you’: The 2nd pers. pron. is sg. here, as also at ll. 9 and 12, indicating that the poet is specifically addressing Sveinn. — [3] maðr goðs ‘God’s man’: In later Old Norse translations from Latin, goðs maðr is used to render vir dei/domini ‘man of God / the Lord’, and also phrases such as vir sanctus/venerabilis ‘holy/venerable man’ (Walter 1976, 48). — [7] ár ok frið ‘prosperity and peace’: A formulaic phrase (though recorded only here in extant skaldic verse), with possible origins in pre-Christian ideas of kingship (see Lönnroth 1986, 83-6; Rainford 1995, 104-8). — [9] þás ‘when’: The reading of all the ÓH mss is here preferred to ’s reading þar er (normalised þars) ‘where’. — [9] rekr ‘present’: LP: rekja and CVC: rekja II suggest that rekr is from rekja ‘to unwind, trace, remember’, here ‘to present (prayers)’, but it is also possible that it derives from reka ‘to drive, perform, cast’. — [10] reginnagla ‘the sacred nail’: Regin n. pl. means ‘ruling, divine powers’, especially the heathen gods, and hence regin- can function as the first element in a cpd with the sense ‘sacred, divine, god-related, mighty’; the exact connotations here are unclear. The second element here, ‑nagla, could be either acc. pl. of the strong m. noun nagl ‘nail’ or acc./dat. sg. or acc. pl. of the weak m. noun nagli, also ‘nail’ (the prep. fyr ‘before’ can take either acc. or dat., depending on meaning). There are basically three alternatives as to the cpd’s meaning: (a) If reginnagla is sg. and figuratively refers to a person, then clearly the cpd is most likely to refer to the saint: Óláfr himself (so NN §2017; Magerøy 1948, 32-6; ÍF 27). Although the determinant máls bóka ‘of the language of books [LATIN]’ could point to the clergy, the reference to petitioning Óláfr in st. 9/1 points to him. (b) If reginnagla is pl., figuratively indicating people, it most probably refers to priests or clerics; so Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B). (c) If reginnagla is pl., but through pars pro toto indicates a built structure, it could indicate the church altar or Óláfr’s shrine. The term reginnaglar occurs also in Eyrbyggja saga (ÍF 4, 8), where it refers to nails hammered into high-seat pillars in a temple: þar fyrir innan stóðu ǫndvegissúlurnar, ok váru þar í naglar; þeir hétu reginnaglar ‘inside there stood the high-seat pillars, and there were nails in them; they were called holy nails’. — [11] bóka máls ‘of the language of books [LATIN]’: ON bók ‘book’ is a semantic loan from OE, and a development from an earlier meaning ‘textile, tapestry’, recorded in eddic verse (see LP, AEW: bók; Fischer 1909, 1). Though mál bóka may simply mean ‘the language of books, learned language’, the language of books, especially in early C11th Scandinavia, is specifically the Lat. language (compare OE bōclǣden ‘book-language, Latin’ and later ON bókmál ‘book-language, learned language, Latin’; see ONP: bókmál). This phrase thus supplies the first extant skaldic reference to both Lat. and books, and indicates that the poem’s genesis was in an at least partly ecclesiastical milieu.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. 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.
  6. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  7. Walter, Ernst. 1976. Lexikalisches Lehngut im Altwestnordischen. Untersuchungen zum Lehngut im ethisch-moralischen Wortschatz der frühen lateinisch-altwestnordischen Übersetzungsliteratur. Abhandlungen der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Phil.-Hist. Kl. 66, 2. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
  8. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  9. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  10. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  11. ÍF 4 = Eyrbyggja saga. Ed. Einar Ólafur Sveinsson and Matthías Þórðarson. 1935.
  12. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  13. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  14. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  15. Rainford, Jessica. 1995. ‘Óláfr Haraldsson, King and Saint of Norway, and the Development of Skaldic Style (ca.1015-ca.1153)’. D. Phil. thesis. University of Oxford.
  16. Fischer, Frank. 1909. Die Lehnwörter des Altwestnordischen. Palaestra 85. Berlin: Mayer & Müller.
  17. Lönnroth, Lars. 1986. ‘Dómaldi’s Death and the Myth of Sacral Kingship’. In Lindow et al. 1986, 73-93.
  18. Magerøy, Hallvard, ed. 1948. Glælognskviða av Toraren Lovtunge. Bidrag til nordisk filologi av stederende ved Universitet i Oslo 12. Oslo: Aschehoug.
  19. Internal references
  20. Not published: do not cite (EbV)
  21. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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. clxxvi-clxxix.
  22. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)

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