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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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EirRagn Lv 1VIII (Ragn 11)

Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 11 (Eiríkr Ragnarsson, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 648.

Eiríkr RagnarssonLausavísur


These four stanzas, all spoken by Eiríkr Ragnarsson and presented in Skj and Skald as forming part of a twelve-stanza unit together with Ragn 15-22, have a unity of their own with their character of a so-called death-song or ævikviða, being comparable in sentiment and wording, if not in metre, to the stanzas spoken at the point of death by Hjálmarr inn hugumstóri ‘the Great-minded’ in Heiðr and Ǫrv (Ǫrv 15-29), by Hildibrandr in Ásm 1-6 and by Ǫrvar-Oddr in Ǫrv 71-141. They are also comparable in these respects (and relatively close in metre) to Krm, the death-song attributed to Ragnarr loðbrók (see McTurk 2012b, 376-80). Of these four stanzas, all preserved in 1824b, none is traceable in what can now be read of 147, and two, Ragn 11 and 13, are preserved in Hb. For a discussion of the interrelationship of their two preserved versions, differing somewhat from the present edn in its treatment of individual words, see McTurk (1991a, 118-19, 136-9). Cf. further the Context to Ragn 11, below.

text and translation

Vil ek eigi boð fyrir bróður
né baugum mey kaupa
— Eystein kveða orðinn
Agnars bana — heyra.
Grætr eigi mik móðir;
mun ek eptir öl drekka;
ok geirtré í gegnum
gör látið mik standa!

Ek vil eigi heyra boð fyrir bróður né kaupa mey baugum; kveða Eystein orðinn bana Agnars. Móðir grætr mik eigi; ek mun öl drekka eptir; ok látið gör geirtré standa í gegnum mik.
‘I do not wish to hear of an offer for my brother, nor to purchase a maiden with rings; they say that Eysteinn has become Agnarr’s slayer. My mother does not weep for me; I’ll be drinking ale afterwards; and let spear-shafts, [duly] prepared, run through me.

notes and context

There is a difference in context here between Ragn (preserved in 1824b) and RagnSon (preserved in Hb). In Ragn, after Ragnarr has abandoned his idea of a Swedish marriage, his two sons by Þóra, Eiríkr and Agnarr, invade Sweden, for no very clear reason. They are defeated by King Eysteinn in a battle in which Agnarr falls. Eiríkr is offered both his life and Eysteinn’s daughter in marriage, but prefers to die by impalement on spears, as he indicates here. In RagnSon, on the other hand, the brothers’ motivation is clear: they wish to make Eysteinn tributary to themselves rather than to their father Ragnarr, and with this in mind Eiríkr sues for the hand of Eysteinn’s daughter, but because Eysteinn rejects his suit the brothers invade his kingdom. They are defeated in a battle in which Agnarr falls, as in Ragn, and Eysteinn then offers Eiríkr his daughter in marriage.

[1]: This line is unmetrical, but could be made metrical by converting vil ek eigi ‘I do not wish’ to vilkat, with the same meaning. — [1-2]: In the prose immediately preceding this stanza in RagnSon (Hb 1892-6, 459-60) and Ragn (1824b, Ragn 1906-8, 139), Eiríkr is offered Eysteinn’s daughter in marriage, but only in RagnSon is he offered compensation for his brother Agnarr’s death as well (cf. l. 1). — [6-8]: Apart from Rafn (FSN), who in l. 6 adopts from 1824b the apparently meaningless reading menn ok eptir öl drekka, all eds follow Hb here, reading l. 6 as mun ek efstr of val deyja ‘I will die uppermost (i.e. ‘last’, as CPB has it) on the heap of the slain’. These eds apart from Kock and Örnólfur Thorsson (see below) also take the first word of l. 8, gör ‘prepared’, as gerr, gǫrr m. nom. sg. ‘prepared, ready’ and as referring predicatively to ek, the speaker of the stanza, thus giving the meaning ‘I, ready (as I am to do so), will die’, etc. (Rafn, FSN, and Ragn 1906-8, 139, read this word in 1824b as geir and geirr (acc. and nom. sg. of geirr m. ‘spear’?) respectively, giving little sense in the context; Skj A’s 1824b reading ‘gera’, yielding even less sense, is correct, however.) In l. 6 the present edn adopts from Hb only the words mun ek, understanding eptir ‘afterwards’ as adverbial here and the line as referring to the drinking of ale after death in Valhǫll (cf. Grí 36/9). In l. 8 the present edn follows Kock, Skald (gǫr), and Örnólfur Thorsson (Ragn 1985) (gjör), in taking the adj. gör as n. acc. pl. and referring attributively to geirtré ‘prepared spears, spears prepared (for the purpose)’, in the previous line. This, as Kock (NN §1453) argues, seems a more natural explanation of the syntax of the passage than that which would seek to link the adj. to the 1st pers. pron. ek of l. 6.



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. 2. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Ragnarssaga loðbrókar V 1: AII, 234, BII, 254, Skald II, 132, NN §1453; FSN 1, 261 (Ragn ch. 9), Ragn 1891, 195-6 (ch. 9), Hb 1892-6, 460 (RagnSon ch. 2), Ragn 1906-8, 139, 203 (ch. 10), Ragn 1944, 62-3 (ch. 10), FSGJ 1, 249 (Ragn ch. 10), Ragn 1985, 123 (ch. 10), Ragn 2003, 34 (ch. 10), CPB II, 348.


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