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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hjálm Lv 4VIII (Ǫrv 14)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 14 (Hjálmarr inn hugumstóri, Lausavísur 4)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 827.

Hjálmarr inn hugumstóriLausavísur

Sár hefk sextán,         slitna brynju,
svart er mér fyr sjónum,         sékat ganga.
Hneit mér við hjarta         hjörr Angantý*s,
hvass blóðrefill,         herðr í eitri.

Hefk sextán sár, slitna brynju, er mér svart fyr sjónum, sékat ganga. Hjörr Angantý*s hneit mér við hjarta, hvass blóðrefill, herðr í eitri.

I have sixteen wounds, a broken mail-coat, it is dark before my eyes, I cannot see to walk. Angantýr’s sword has pierced my heart, the sharp sword tip, hardened in poison.

Mss: 2845(64r), R715ˣ(10v) (Heiðr); 344a(17v), 343a(68v), 471(75r), 173ˣ(36v) (Ǫrv)

Readings: [1] sextán: so R715ˣ, 343a, 471, 173ˣ, xvi 2845, 344a    [3] mér: om. 173ˣ    [4] sékat ganga (‘sekat ek ganga’): so 471, ‘seka se ek ganga’ 2845, ‘seinka eg ad ganga’ R715ˣ, ‘svinkada ek ganga’ 344a, ‘sie ec ei ad ganga’ 343a, 173ˣ    [5] Hneit: ‘hnöt’ or ‘huöt’ corrected from ‘hnet’ or ‘huet’ R715ˣ    [6] Angantý*s: ‘a’ 2845, Angantýrs R715ˣ, 343a, 471, 173ˣ, ‘anḡ’ 344a    [7] hvass: ‘hars’ R715ˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 292-3, Skj BII, 313, Skald II, 166; Ǫrv 1888, 102, Ǫrv 1892, 57, FSGJ 2, 257; Heiðr 1924, 12, 99, Heiðr 1960, 8; Edd. Min. 49, 52.

Context: In Heiðr, this stanza occurs immediately after Ǫrv 13, introduced with the words Hjálmarr qvað ‘Hjálmarr said’. In Ǫrv, Oddr asserts the rightness of his judgement that fighting Angantýr would be disastrous for them, but Hjálmarr is philosophical about his impending death, and utters this stanza.

Notes: [1] sextán sár ‘sixteen wounds’: This detail of the number of Hjálmarr’s wounds is given in the prose of the 2845 ms. of Heiðr, but not in R715ˣ or the Ǫrv mss. — [4] sékat ganga ‘I cannot see to walk’: The mss show variation between two verbs, viz. sjá ‘see’ (with the suffixed negative particles ‑a or ‑at), as in 2845, 343a, 471 and 173ˣ, and seinka ‘delay’ (R715ˣ and probably underlying 344a’s svinkada, as suggested in Edd. Min. 49 n.). The latter reading could make sense, ‘I delay walking, I have difficulty walking’. — [5] hneit mér við hjarta ‘has pierced my heart’: Mér is here and in l. 3 treated as a dat. of interest (‘for/to me’), but it may alternatively be a possessive dat., in which case one would read hneit við hjarta mér and er svart fyr sjónum mér (l. 3). — [7] blóðrefill ‘sword tip’: The lit. meaning of this cpd has been much debated, although there is no doubt that the cpd itself refers to the tip or blade of a sword (cf. Egill Hfl 8/4V (Eg 41), Þul Sverða 10/3III). At issue is the meaning of the noun refill, which most commonly refers to a tapestry or wall-hanging, but in some compounds, as here and in tannrefill ‘tusk-chisel’, clearly refers to a long sharp instrument. ONP: blóð-refill follows a suggestion of Liestøl that the allusion may be to the pattern-welded decoration of a sword blade that is likened to the effect of a woven tapestry. — [8] herðr í eitri ‘hardened in poison’: A commonplace of Old Norse and Old English heroic poetry. Cf. Beowulf ll. 1459-60a (Beowulf 2008, 50), of the sword Hrunting (ecg wæs īren, | ātertānum fāh, | āhyrded heaþoswāte ‘the blade was of iron, decorated with poison twigs, hardened in battle-blood’) and Heiðr 45/5-6, where both edges of Tyrfingr are said to be imbued with poison.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  4. Beowulf 2008 = Fulk, Robert D., Robert E. Bjork and John D. Niles, eds. 2008. Klaeber’s Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg. 4th rev. edn of Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg, ed. Fr. Klaeber. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press.
  5. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  6. Edd. Min. = Heusler, Andreas and Wilhelm Ranisch, eds. 1903. Eddica Minora: Dichtungen eddischer Art aus den Fornaldarsögur und anderen Prosawerken. Dortmund: Ruhfus. Rpt. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
  7. Heiðr 1924 = Jón Helgason, ed. 1924. Heiðreks saga. Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks konungs. SUGNL 48. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  8. Ǫrv 1888 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1888. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Leiden: Brill.
  9. Heiðr 1960 = Tolkien, Christopher, ed. and trans. 1960. Saga Heiðreks konungs ins vitra / The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise. Nelson Icelandic Texts. London etc.: Nelson.
  10. Ǫrv 1892 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1892a. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Altnordische Saga-Bibliothek 2. Halle: Niemayer.
  11. Internal references
  12. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 367. <> (accessed 22 September 2021)
  13. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Ǫrvar-Odds saga’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 804. <> (accessed 22 September 2021)
  14. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Sverða heiti 10’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 808.
  15. Not published: do not cite (Egill Hfl 8V (Eg 41))
  16. Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 45 (Angantýr Arngrímsson, Lausavísur 10)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 404.
  17. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 13 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Lausavísur 5)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 826.
  18. Not published: do not cite ()

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