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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hjþ Lv 4VIII (HjǪ 7)

Richard L. Harris (ed.) 2017, ‘Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis 7 (Hjálmþér Ingason, Lausavísur 4)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 499.

Hjálmþér IngasonLausavísur

text and translation

Kantu mjúkligar,         mær in harðleita,
leika at hrækerti         en hölðar aðrir sex.
Sel þú mér sárloga         sveipinn orms dýnu;
fús em ek fljóð at kyssa;         fer sem má jöfri.

In harðleita mær, kantu leika at {hrækerti} mjúkligar en sex aðrir hölðar. Sel þú mér {sárloga} sveipinn {dýnu orms}; ek em fús at kyssa fljóð; fer jöfri sem má.
‘Hard-faced girl, you know how to play with the corpse-candle [SWORD] more nimbly than six other champions. Give me the wound-flame [SWORD], wrapped in the eiderdown of the serpent [GOLD]; I am eager to kiss the woman; let it go as it may with the prince [me].

notes and context

Remembering the advice of a previously encountered troll-woman, Skinnhúfa ‘Skin-hood’, later revealed as Vargeisa’s sister, Princess Hildisif, not to forego the acquisition of a better sword if he should see one, Hjálmþér consents in this stanza to kiss the finngalkn, Vargeisa, in return for the sword, Snarvendill.

Considerable corruption has evidently entered into the transmission of the text of the first four lines of this stanza. Like most eds, beginning with HjǪ 1720 and including Skj B, Skald and FSGJ, the arrangement of papp6ˣ has been followed here, even though the order of lines and the text of l. 4 in that ms. has been added as an afterthought to what was originally more similar to the order of lines in 109a IIIˣ and ÍBR5ˣ. The arrangement of the latter two mss brings with it several problems: 1) alliteration is lacking between ll. 1 and 2; 2) the adv. mjúkligar is repeated in l. 3 from l. 1 and l. 3 is also hypermetrical (in 109a IIIˣ); and 3) mjúkligar en sex aðrir ‘more nimbly than six others’ (109a IIIˣ) or meir en sex aðrir ‘more than six others’ (ÍBR5ˣ) brings with it a problem of meaning in that Hjálmþér is addressing a female person and comparing her to six other males, who have not been mentioned in the saga narrative.



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 5: AII, 334, BII, 355, Skald II, 191; HjǪ 1720, 29, FSN 3, 475-6, FSGJ 4, 200, HjǪ 1970, 25, 84, 139-40.


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