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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Úlfr Lv 1II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Úlfr stallari Óspaksson, Lausavísa 1’ 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, pp. 348-9.

Úlfr stallari ÓspakssonLausavísa1

text and translation

Esa stǫllurum stillis
stafnrúm Haralds jafnan
— ónauðigr fekk auðar —
innan þǫrf at hvarfa,
ef, hǫrbrekka, hrøkkva,
hrein, skulum tveir fyr einum
(ungr kenndak mér) undan,
(annat) þingamanni.

Esa þǫrf stǫllurum stillis at hvarfa jafnan innan stafnrúm Haralds—fekk auðar ónauðigr—, ef, {hrein hǫrbrekka}, skulum hrøkkva undan tveir fyr einum þingamanni; ungr kenndak mér annat.
‘There is no need for the lord’s marshals always to idle inside Haraldr’s prow-area—I acquired wealth without coercion—, if, pure flax-slope [WOMAN], we must flee two before one þingamaðr; as a youth, I got accustomed to something else.

notes and context

Before Haraldr harðráði embarks on his expedition to England in 1066, some say that England may be difficult to conquer because of the army known as þingamenn, whose soldiers are said to be twice as brave as Haraldr’s men. Úlfr responds with this st.

The sense of the st. is that it would not be worth Úlfr’s while to go on the expedition, if Haraldr’s warriors anticipate in advance that they will flee before an Engl. force inferior in numbers. — [1] stǫllurum ‘marshals’: A stallari ‘marshal’ was one of the most prominent retainers of a king, whose duty it was to communicate the king’s decisions to the populace. Haraldr harðráði had two marshals, Úlfr and Styrkárr. — [5, 6] hrein hǫrbrekka ‘pure flax-slope [WOMAN]’: The identity of this woman is unknown. For similar apostrophes to unknown women, see Note to Hharð Gamv 3/1. — [8] þingamanni: The Engl. company of þingamenn was instituted by Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great) around 1018 but disbanded after the Norman Conquest in 1066. According to Saxo (2005, I, 10, 18, pp. 670-81), it consisted of six thousand chosen men (see also ÍF 35, 100, n. 1; ÍF 27, 19 n. 1; Jesch 2001a, 192, 194). The term þingamaðr most likely derives from OE þeningmann ‘servant-man’.



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.

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