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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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TorfE Lv 3I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Torf-Einarr Rǫgnvaldsson, Lausavísur 3’ 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. 134.

Torf-Einarr RǫgnvaldssonLausavísur

Ey munk glaðr, síz geirar
— gótts vinna þrek manni —
bǫðfíkinna bragna
bitu þengils son ungan.
Þeygi dylk, nema þykki
— þar fló grár af sôrum
hræva nagr of holma —
hól undvala gœli.

Munk ey glaðr, síz geirar bǫðfíkinna bragna bitu {ungan son þengils}; gótts manni vinna þrek. Þeygi dylk, nema hól þykki {gœli {undvala}}; þar fló {grár nagr hræva} af sôrum of holma.

I will be forever glad now that spears of battle-keen men pierced {the young son of the king} [= Hálfdan]; it is good for a man to do a heroic deed. Not at all do I conceal the fact that it seems like vaunting {to the comforter {of wound-falcons}} [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR = Haraldr]; there {the grey bird of corpses} [EAGLE] flew from the wounded over the islands.

Mss: 332ˣ(12), R702ˣ(36v) (Orkn); FskAˣ(314), 301ˣ(116r) (Fsk); 761bˣ(395v)

Readings: [1] Ey: so R702ˣ, ‘Ǫ’ 332ˣ, 761bˣ, æ FskAˣ, 301ˣ;    síz: því at with síz in margin FskAˣ, því at 301ˣ    [2] gótts (‘gott er’): so R702ˣ, FskAˣ, 301ˣ, gótt 332ˣ, 761bˣ    [6] þar: þær 301ˣ;    grár: ár with grár in margin FskAˣ, ár 301ˣ    [7] nagr: naður R702ˣ, valr with nagr in margin FskAˣ, valr 301ˣ;    holma: holða R702ˣ    [8] hól undvala: ‘holunda vals’ with ‘holund vala’ in margin FskAˣ, ‘holunda vals’ 301ˣ;    gœli: ‘gelis’ 332ˣ, 761bˣ, ‘gelis’ in margin FskAˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 32, Skj BI, 28, Skald I, 17, NN §2214; Orkn 1913-16, 12-13, ÍF 34, 14-15 (ch. 8); Fsk 1902-3, 297-8 (ch. 64), ÍF 29, 293 (ch. 74); Finnur Jónsson 1884, 98, von See 1960, 34.

Context: Orkn places this immediately after Lv 2 following its account of Hálfdan’s death. Fsk includes it without assigning a narrative context (cf. Context to Lv 1 and 4).

Notes: [1, 4] geirar ... bitu ungan son þengils ‘spears ... pierced the young son of the king [= Hálfdan]’: These words conflict with the prose accounts in Orkn and Hkr (see Context to Lv 2, and cf. ÍF 26, 132) which have Hálfdan escaping from battle and being put to death by the type of Viking atrocity known as the blóðǫrn ‘blood-eagle’ (cf. von See 1960, 36-7; on the blood-eagle see Note to Sigv Knútdr 1 [All]). The omission of the present stanza from Hkr may be an attempt to avoid this conflict (von See 1960, 36-8; ÍF 34); see further Note to Lv 5/7-8. — [2] gótts manni vinna þrek ‘it is good for a man to do a heroic deed’: This type of gnomic utterance, reminiscent of Beowulf, e.g. ll. 186-8, is not especially prevalent in skaldic poetry and may go to support the theory of a connection between these lausavísur and the eddic Hamðismál (e.g. Hamð 8/5-8; see Olsen 1936a). — [5] nema ‘the fact that’: See Fritzner: nema conj. 6 for similar constructions also involving dylja(sk) ‘conceal, deny, dissemble’. — [5, 8] hól þykki gœli undvala ‘it seems like vaunting to the comforter of wound-falcons [RAVENS > WARRIOR = Haraldr]’: (a) Despite the word division in the mss, hol- and undvala cannot be understood as a cpd of holund ‘flesh-wound’ and vala (from valr ‘falcon’) because the two syllables of holund- would resolve, leaving the line hypometric. Further, holund ‘flesh-wound, gash’ is otherwise unattested in skaldic poetry. The first syllable must therefore be construed as hól ‘vaunt, boast’ (cf. the attestations and senses listed by Fritzner, LP: hól, especially Þmáhl Máv 1V (Eb 3)). The ‘vaunting’ here can be understood contextually as referring back to the substance of the first helmingr, especially l. 2, which is a gloat or triumph on Einarr’s part. The word hól ‘hillock’ (acc. sg. of hóll or hváll) is a conceivable alternative but is not elsewhere attested in skaldic poetry and scarcely fits the context. Þykki is interpreted here in its standard sense ‘seem, be thought’, with gœli undvala (dat. sg.) ‘comforter of wound-falcons [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR]’ as its dat. object, referring to King Haraldr. (b) Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34; cf. ÍF 29; Mundal 1993, 256) interprets holund as ‘flesh-wound’ and þykki as an impersonal verb meaning ‘anger, cause resentment’, with gœli holundvala (dat. sg.) ‘comforter of wound-falcons [RAVENS > WARRIOR]’ as its object. But the sense ‘cause resentment’ is normally attested only for the m. v. þykkjask (Finnur Jónsson 1884, 98), and cf. the metrical objections to holund- above, which also apply to the following. (c) Finnur Jónsson (1884, 98-9; cf. Skj B; Orkn 1913-16; Skald; von See 1960, 34) offers a drastic double emendation of l. 8, holunda val sem gœlak ‘as I comfort the falcon of gashes [RAVEN/EAGLE]’. — [6] grár : sôrum: An instance of aðalhending: cf. Lv 5/2 seggr : skeggi and the Introduction. — [6] af sôrum ‘from the wounded’: Dat. pl. sôrum is here taken as a substantival use of the adj. sárr rather than part of the noun sár n. ‘wound’. Editors have commonly emended af to at, on the grounds that birds of carrion are more often spoken of as flying to corpses than from them (CPB II, 372; Finnur Jónsson 1884, 98; Skj B; Skald; ÍF 29). — [7] nagr ‘bird’: It is not clear what type of bird this word refers to. AEW: nagr suggests a bird of prey and compares (g)naga ‘gnaw’. — [7] of holma ‘over the islands’: Kock (NN §2214), like this edn, takes the phrase with the parenthetic clause, describing the bird’s flight. Finnur Jónsson (1884, 99; Skj B) instead takes it with ll. 5, 8, describing the warrior’s deeds.


  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. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  6. 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.
  7. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  8. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  9. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  10. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  11. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  12. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  13. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  14. Finnur Jónsson. 1884. Kritiske studier over en del af de ældste norske og islandske skjaldekvad. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  15. Olsen, Magnus. 1936. ‘Torv-Einar og Hamðismál’. In Bidrag til nordisk filologi tillägnade Emil Olson den 9 juni 1936. Lund: Gleerup, 123-30. Rpt. in Olsen 1938a, 189-96.
  16. See, Klaus von. 1960. ‘Der Skald Torf-Einar’. BGDSL 82, 31-43. Rpt. in von See 1981, 367-79.
  17. Mundal, Else. 1993. ‘The Orkney Earl and Scald Torf-Einarr and his Poetry’. In Batey et al. 1993, 248-59.
  18. Internal references
  19. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  20. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Orkneyinga saga (Orkn)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  21. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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. clix-clxi.
  22. Not published: do not cite (Anon (Eb) 3V (Eb 37))
  23. Not published: do not cite ()
  24. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Knútsdrápa 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. 651.
  25. Not published: do not cite (Þmáhl Máv 1V (Eb 3))
  26. Not published: do not cite ()

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