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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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TorfE Lv 1I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Torf-Einarr Rǫgnvaldsson, Lausavísur 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. 131.

Torf-Einarr RǫgnvaldssonLausavísur

text and translation

Sékat Hrolfs ór hendi
né Hrollaugi fljúga
dǫrr á dolga mengi;
dugir oss fǫður hefna.
En í kveld, meðan knýjum,
of kerstraumi, rómu,
þegjandi sitr þetta
Þórir jarl á Mœri.

Sékat dǫrr fljúga ór hendi Hrolfs né Hrollaugi á mengi dolga; dugir oss hefna fǫður. En í kveld, meðan knýjum rómu, sitr Þórir jarl þetta þegjandi of {kerstraumi} á Mœri.
‘I do not see spears flying from Hrólfr’s hand nor from Hrollaugr’s in the throng of enemies; it is right for us to avenge our father. Yet this evening, while we [I] press our [my] attack, Þórir jarl ignores this in silence over his cup-stream [DRINK] in Møre.

notes and context

Orkn tells that as the sons of Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ come of age they attack the king’s jarls, killing some and driving others from their lands. Among their victims is Rǫgnvaldr Mœrajarl, who is killed by two of Haraldr’s sons by Snæfríðr: Hálfdan háleggr ‘Long-legged’ and Guðrøðr ljómi ‘Beam of light’ (cf. ÍF 26, 126). Haraldr expresses fury at the jarl’s death, restores Rǫgnvaldr’s title of jarl and hereditary lands in Mœrr (Møre) and Raumsdalr (Romsdalen) to his son and successor Þórir, and pursues his own sons. Hálfdan flees to the Orkneys, causing terror among the inhabitants. Torf-Einarr retreats from Orkney to Scotland but returns later the same year to win a victory against Hálfdan, who subsequently escapes, whereupon Torf-Einarr speaks Lv 1. Hkr describes the battle against Hálfdan, which culminates in his escape and later capture. It is stated that Torf-Einarr had spoken Lv 1 the evening before the battle. In Fsk the stanzas are appended to a passage about William the Conqueror and his descent from Gǫngu-Hrólfr. It is explained that Hrólfr was the son of Rǫgnvaldr Mœrajarl and brother of Þórir jarl þegjandi ‘the Silent’ and of Torf-Einarr of the Orkneys, and that there was another brother, Hrollaugr, as Torf-Einarr said when he had killed Hálfdan háleggr to avenge his killing of Torf-Einarr’s father. Lv 1, 4 and 3 are then cited without interruption.

The lausavísa complains of the failure of Torf-Einarr’s brothers Hrólfr, Þórir, and Hrollaugr to join him in avenging their father. The narrative is pres.-tense, suggestive of impromptu verse-making in the thick of the action. In Hkr the stanza is interpreted instead as a prediction of future events. Prose traditions about the sons of Rǫgnvaldr Mœrajarl are not unanimous, and no doubt include semi-legendary material (cf. Mundal 1993, 248-51). Fsk (Context above) seems to know nothing more about them, while Orkn (ÍF 34, 7) and Hkr (ÍF 26, 123) represent Rǫgnvaldr as having Hallaðr, Hrollaugr and Einarr by a concubine and Hrólfr and Þórir by his wife (Ragnhildr in Orkn, Hildr in Hkr); Orkn names Ívarr as another legitimate son. The lausavísa makes no distinction between legitimate and illegitimate sons.



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: Torf-Einarr jarl, Lausavísur 1: AI, 31, BI, 27-8, Skald I, 17, NN §§2411, 2985G; ÍF 26, 131-2 (HHárf ch. 30), F 1871, 55; Orkn 1913-16, 11, ÍF 34, 12 (ch. 8), Flat 1860-8, I, 223; Fsk 1902-3, 296-7 (ch. 64), ÍF 29, 291-2 (ch. 74); von See 1960, 34.


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