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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÚlfrU Húsdr 7III

Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Úlfr Uggason, Húsdrápa 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 417.

Úlfr UggasonHúsdrápa


Stanzas 7-11 contain a representation of the funeral of Baldr, who was fatally struck by a sprig of mistletoe (at Loki’s instigation) during play with weapons. Stanzas 7-10 describe a procession of the gods Freyr, Óðinn, Heimdallr and the valkyries, to a pyre of wood that has been built for the cremation of Baldr’s corpse. The meaning of the last stanza, which describes a giantess pushing a ship forward and Óðinn’s warriors killing a horse, is disputed. This stanza is most often explained in light of Gylf’s (SnE 2005, 46-7) version of the story, according to which the ship would not budge so that a giantess has to be summoned to push it out into the sea. She arrives, riding a wolf, which is so powerful that Óðinn’s warriors, four berserks who are supposed to hold it, have to throw it to the ground. The present edition instead interprets the scene in st. 11 in light of st. 10, namely, as the ceremonial sacrifice of a horse during the funeral.

In sts 7-11 we find different denotations for the place of Baldr’s funeral, namely, a castle or fortress (borg st. 7/1), a woodpile (kǫstr st. 8/1) a funeral pyre (bál st. 9/4) and a ship (haf-Sleipnir st. 11/2). This apparent discrepancy is easily explained, however, if the funeral pyre was built on a ship and both the ship and the pyre were then burnt. A funeral like this is mentioned by Ibn Fadlān, a tenth-century Arab envoy who wrote a detailed description of the funeral of a Rusj (?) chieftain (see Notes to st. 10).

text and translation

Ríðr á bǫrg til borgar
bǫðfróðr sonar Óðins
Freyr ok folkum stýrir
fyrst inum golli byrsta.

Bǫðfróðr Freyr ríðr fyrst til borgar {sonar Óðins} á inum golli byrsta bǫrg ok stýrir folkum.
‘Battle-skilled Freyr <god> rides first to the funeral pyre of the son of Óðinn <god> [= Baldr] on the boar bristled with gold and leads the troops.

notes and context

In Skm (SnE) the helmingr is cited to illustrate Freyr’s attributes – here his boar.



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: Ulfr Uggason, 1. Húsdrápa 7: AI, 137, BI, 129, Skald I, 72; SnE 1848-87, I, 264-5, II, 311, III, 19-20, SnE 1931, 98, SnE 1998, I, 19.


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