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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vargeisa Lv 5VIII (HjǪ 10)

Richard L. Harris (ed.) 2017, ‘Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis 10 (Vargeisa/Álfsól, Lausavísur 5)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 502.


text and translation

Kjóstu þann þræl         af þengils liði,
        er gefr svínum soð.
Mun þér ei maðr         duga * af mildings hirð,
        ef þér glapvígr geriz.

Kjóstu þann þræl af liði þengils, er gefr svínum soð. Maðr af hirð mildings mun ei duga* þér, ef geriz þér glapvígr.
‘Choose that slave from the followers of the prince who gives swill to the swine. A man of the prince’s court will not be of use to you if he reveals himself to you as prone to accidental killing.

notes and context

Vargeisa, the enchanted Princess Álfsól, in a third stanza with prophetic content, advises Hjálmþér to choose the humble swineherd, Hǫrðr, in reality her enchanted brother, Hringr, for his companion. The stanza is again introduced with the formula varð henni nú ljóð á munni ‘now a song came into her mouth’.

The subject-matter of this stanza is covered in a much more verbose way in three verses of Hjálmþérsrímur III, 33-7 (Finnur Jónsson 1905-22, II, 23). — This stanza, like HjǪ 4 and 5, is in ljóðaháttr. It is couched in a proverbial mode, though in fact it conceals the ‘realities’ of the saga’s magical world, in that Vargeisa is well aware that the apparently lowly swineherd is her brother, and a prince. The overt sentiment of the stanza is: ‘choose a humble man as your companion, and then you will not risk the possibility of a higher-class companion turning out a failure as a fighter’. — [5-6]: Both 109a IIIˣ and papp6ˣ have the words eðr nægaz ‘or suffice’ added after duga ‘be of use’, though they were crossed out in papp6ˣ, probably, though not certainly, by a later hand. If eðr nægaz were retained, ll. 5-6 would read mun þér ei maðr duga | eðr nægaz af mildings hirð ‘a man of the prince’s court would not be of use to you or suffice’. 



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. 16. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Hjálmþérs saga ok Ǫlvis II 8: AII, 335, BII, 355, Skald II, 192; HjǪ 1720, 31, FSN 3, 477, FSGJ 4, 202, HjǪ 1970, 27, 85, 141.


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