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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorm Lv 10I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 10’ 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. 823.

Þormóðr KolbrúnarskáldLausavísur

text and translation

Loftungu gaft lengi
látr, þats Fáfnir átti;
þú lézt mér, inn mæri,
merkr fránǫluns vánir.
Verðr emk, varga myrðir
víðlendr, frá þér (síðan
eða heldr of sæ sjaldan)
slíks réttar (skalk vætta).

Lengi gaft Loftungu látr, þats Fáfnir átti; þú, inn mæri, lézt mér vánir {merkr {fránǫluns}}. Emk verðr slíks réttar frá þér, {víðlendr myrðir varga}, eða heldr skalk sjaldan síðan vætta of sæ.
‘For long you gave Loftunga (‘Praise-tongue’) the lair that Fáfnir owned [gold]; you, famous one, have granted me hopes of the forest of the flashing fish [SERPENT > GOLD]. I am worthy of the same due from you, broad-landed destroyer of outlaws [RULER = Knútr], or instead I shall seldom afterwards hope [to come] over the sea.

notes and context

In all texts, at their parting in Denmark, Þormóðr reminds King Knútr inn ríki (Cnut the Great) of the gifts due him in reward for his service to the king. The prose context in NRA52 is defective but appears to be the same.

For the sequel, see Lv 11 and Context, and for similar complaints, see Sigv Vestv 5 and its Context and ESk Lv 7II and its Introduction. — [7, 8] eða heldr skalk sjaldan ... vætta of sæ ‘or instead I shall seldom ... hope [to come] over the sea’: (a) The sense may be ‘I shall not return’. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; Finnur Jónsson 1932-3), followed by Skald, interprets the final intercalary as a question, ‘Or shall I never expect anything on the sea?’. (c) Gaertner (1907, 329), with different apportionment of the intercalary and main clauses, and emending síðan to síðarr ‘later’, also perceives a question, ‘or shall I expect my due from you later?’. (d) Another possibility is ‘or else I shall rather seldom hope for [anything here] across the sea’, i.e. ‘I shall give up hope of generosity from you’. (e) Björn K. Þórólfsson (ÍF 6, and similarly ÍS) takes the intercalary clause to mean ‘or I shall instead put to sea and hope for nothing’. The saga writer probably understood the meaning to be something like the last mentioned or the one offered here, since this would explain why he has Þormóðr deliver the poem shortly before his departure.



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: Þórmóðr Bersason Kolbrúnarskáld, 2. Lausavísur 10: AI, 284, BI, 262, Skald I, 135, NN §710; ÓHÆ 1893, 4; ÓHLeg 1849, 44, 109, ÓHLeg 1922, 54, ÓHLeg 1982, 126-7; Flat 1860-8, II, 201, Fbr 1925-7, 224, ÓH 1941, II, 801, 804, ÍF 6, 283, ÍS III, 2277 (Þorm); Gaertner 1907, 310, 328-9, Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 63-4.


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