Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Hjþ Lv 2VIII (HjǪ 3)

Richard L. Harris (ed.) 2017, ‘Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis 3 (Hjálmþér Ingason, Lausavísur 2)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 495.

Hjálmþér IngasonLausavísur


The following eight stanzas occur in an episode in which Hjálmþér meets and obtains a sword from the finngálkn ‘monstrous creature’ Vargeisa, in return for a kiss. Much later in the saga, Vargeisa is revealed as an Arabian princess, Álfsól, who has been put under a spell by her wicked stepmother and turned into a monster. The spell can only be broken if a prince kisses her. This humorously turned arming of the hero, traditionally undertaken in medieval romance by a lady with whom he has had friendly or intimate association, is one example of the mock-heroic narrative style adopted in much of HjǪ. HjǪ 4, 5 and 10 are in ljóðaháttr rather than fornyrðislag.

text and translation

Hver er sú dóttir,         er um nótt miðja
flanar ok flöktir         með fíls hala?
Ólík þykki mér þú         öðrum vífum,
eða hvaðan kom         Hrauðungs mær?

Hver er sú dóttir, er flanar ok flöktir um miðja nótt með hala fíls? Þú þykki mér ólík öðrum vífum, eða hvaðan kom {mær Hrauðungs}?
‘Who is that daughter who flits and flutters about in the middle of the night with an elephant’s tail? You seem to me unlike other women, and where did the girl of Hrauðungr <giant> [GIANTESS] come from?

notes and context

Hjálmþér and his men come to an island late one evening. Hjálmþér is standing guard outside their tents, but then walks to a hill where he hears loud crashing noises. Soon a huge female creature, named in the prose text as a finngalkn, emerges from the woods; she has a horse’s tail and hooves and a long mane; her eyes are white, her mouth large and in her huge hand she carries a beautiful sword. Hjálmþér recites this stanza, according to the saga prose, so as not to be at a loss for words.

Cf. Hjálmþérsrímur III, 20 (Finnur Jónsson 1905-22, II, 22). — This stanza follows a familiar pattern in an encounter between a fornaldarsaga hero and a supernatural figure (cf. Ket 3-7). The hero demands to know who his or her antagonist is, and in the process describes the stranger’s physical appearance. In most such encounters, the Otherworld figure is hostile, but in this case the creature, Vargeisa, who names herself in the following stanza, is friendly to Hjálmþér. In the prose text she is termed a finngálkn (or, the pre-1200 form, finngalkn), a noun that usually refers to a fabulous monster of disparate parts, part-animal and part-human (cf. ONP: finngalkn), whether classical, like the centaur, or indigenous. This is certainly the understanding of the prose text, which envisages a combination of human and horse. The stanza seems to envisage a different combination, of elephant (fíll, l. 4) and something bird-like, if the verbs flanar ok flöktar ‘flits and flutters about’ are any guide (see Note to l. 3 below).



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 1: AII, 333, BII, 354, Skald II, 191; HjǪ 1720, 28, FSN 3, 474, FSGJ 4, 198, HjǪ 1970, 24, 82-3, 138.


Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.