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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Útsteinn Útkv 9VIII (Hálf 50)

Hubert Seelow (ed.) 2017, ‘Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka 50 (Útsteinn Gunnlaðarson, Útsteinskviða 9)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 343.

Útsteinn GunnlaðarsonÚtsteinskviða

text and translation

Magni fýsir engi         við mik at deila,
þvíat mér var ungum         aldr skapaðr.
Ek hefi hjarta         hart í brjósti,
sízt mér í æsku         Óðinn framði.

Engi fýsir at deila magni við mik, þvíat aldr var skapaðr mér ungum. Ek hefi hart hjarta í brjósti, sízt Óðinn framði mér í æsku.
‘Nobody is eager to pit his strength against me, for a long life was fated to me as a young man. I have a firm heart in my breast, since Óðinn furthered it for me in my youth.

notes and context

There are various metrical irregularities in ll. 1-4, the first two of which are málaháttr (for l. 1, see Note below). Line 2 could be made regular if the at in at deila were deleted, as is done in Skj B and Skald. Line 4 could also be restored to regularity if the expletive particle of or um were added as aldr of/um skapaðr, a collocation that is common in Old Norse poetry; cf. eino dœgri | mér var aldr um scapaðr (Skí 13/4-5, NK 72) ‘on one day my life was shaped’. — [1]: Most eds have altered this line to produce metrical regularity. Skj B adopts a suffixed negative verb magni fýsit instead of magni fýsir engi. Edd. Min. and Andrews (Hálf 1909) emend the ms.’s magni to man(n)gi ‘nobody’, fýsir to fýsi and delete engi ‘nobody’. Kock (NN §3191) assumes similarly that l. 1 originally read Mangi fýsir ‘No one is eager’ and emends the text accordingly in Skald. He argues that when, at some point, -ng- got confused with -gn-, so that nom. mangi ‘nobody’ was understood as dat. magni ‘strength’, the line came to lack a negation and nom. engi ‘nobody’ was added to it. Since the ms. reading makes perfect sense and the phrase deila magni ‘pit one’s strength’ is also used in Anon Lil 8/8VII (albeit with the younger dat. form megni), emendation seems unnecessary. — [5-8]: Útsteinn here expresses two commonplaces of Old Norse heroic poetry, that, as a man of courage, he has a hard heart (cf. Note to Anon Mhkv 7/1III and von See 1978), and that Óðinn, the Norse god most frequently associated with warfare, has promoted his warlike nature. Finnur Jónsson (LP: fremja 7) has suggested that mér ‘for me’ (l. 7) might be a mistake for mik ‘me’ (acc.) and that the sense of ll. 7-8 might be ‘since Óðinn furthered me in my youth’, as this would conform more closely to ideas that Óðinn helped and supported his chosen warriors, rather than strengthened their hearts, a notion that is not attested elsewhere.



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: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 6. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Hálfssaga VIII 13: AII, 264, BII, 286, Skald II, 150, NN §3191; Hálf 1864, 30, Hálf 1909, 118-19, FSGJ 2, 123, Hálf 1981, 131, 190; Edd. Min. 73.


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