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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (Ragn) 1VIII (Ragn 16)

Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 16 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 657.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar

text and translation

Þér segju vér þína
— þat er nauð, kona! — dauða.
Ill eru einkarmanni
ørlög sona Þóru.
Þung spjöll vitum önnur
æ nýjari en þessi:
— nú hefi ek fram komit fögrum —
flaug örn of ná dauðan.

Segju vér þér þína dauða; þat er nauð, kona! Ørlög sona Þóru eru ill einkarmanni. Vitum önnur þung spjöll æ nýjari en þessi: örn flaug of dauðan ná; nú hefi ek komit fram fögrum.
‘We tell you that your [kinsmen] are dead; woman, it is a sad task! The fate of Þóra’s sons will be hard for your husband [to bear]. We know of no more recent heavy tidings than these: an eagle flew around a dead body; now I have told the news aright.

notes and context

The messengers’ spokesman reports the deaths of Eiríkr and Agnarr, Ragnarr’s sons by Þóra.

[1-4]: Some emendation of the text of this helmingr is required to give good sense. The present edn keeps the ms. readings in ll. 1-2 and adopts Kock’s readings and emendations of ll. 3-4 (see (d) below). (a) Among previous eds, Valdimar Ásmundarson (Ragn 1891), Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 206), Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), Eskeland (Ragn 1944), Guðni Jónsson (FSGJ), and Ebel (Ragn 2003) emend the þína of 1824b and 147 to þínum, m. dat. sg. of poss. adj. þinn ‘your’, following this with somewhat varying interpretations, but all seeing it as qualifying  (-)manni in l. 3. (b) Olsen takes dauða in l. 2 as m. acc. pl. of dauðr adj. ‘dead’, emends elli in l. 3 to ill eru (n. nom. pl. of illr ‘evil’) ‘evil are …’, takes the f. gen. sg. form einkar, also in l. 3, as adverbial, meaning ‘particularly’ and qualifying ill, and in l. 4 emends 1824b’s sonum to sonu acc. pl. ‘sons’. Thus: ‘We are telling you, woman – it is a sad task – that Þóra’s sons are dead (acc. with inf. construction); especially evil is the fate befalling your husband’. (c) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) presents the text in much the same way as Olsen, taking einkar however (as in the present edn) with manni as forming the first element in a cpd word einkarmanni ‘husband’, thus dispensing with the idea of einkar as an adverbial intensive. (d) The difficulty with the emendation to þínum, m. dat. sg. in l. 1, is that it entails a syntactic link with einkarmanni in l. 3, thus complicating the syntax and interpretation of the passage. Kock (Skald; cf. NN §1458) retains the ms. reading þína (taking it as m. acc. pl.) in l. 1, but emends kona in l. 2 to koni, acc. pl. of konr m. ‘son, kinsman’, seeing ll. 1-2 as syntactically self-contained, with the meaning ‘We are telling you – it is a sad task – that your kinsmen (þínakoni) are dead’. He follows Olsen and Skj B in retaining the emendation ill eru in l. 3, and Skj B in seeing einkarmanni as a cpd word, but emends to sona gen. pl. in l. 4, thus producing for these lines the meaning: ‘The fate of the sons of Þóra will be painful to (your) husband.’ (e) Örnólfur Thorsson (Ragn 1985) also sees the two halves of the helmingr as syntactically independent, but emends þína in l. 1 to þinna, gen. pl., taking it as substantival and seeing dauða in l. 2 as acc. sg. of dauði m. ‘death’; thus: ‘we are reporting to you … the death of your (people, kinsmen).’ Cf. the Modern Icelandic expression þú og þínir ‘you and yours’. For ll. 3-4 he produces virtually the same text as Kock, but presents einkar and manni as separate words, acknowledging that they may be taken together as meaning ‘husband’. (f) The present ed. envisages no emendation in ll. 1-2, taking þína in l. 1 as m. acc. pl. and (cf. Örnólfur, under (e), above) substantival, i.e. ‘your (kinsmen)’, and the two lines as self-contained syntactically (cf. Kock, under (d), above). It is apparently appropriate for the messenger to treat Áslaug’s stepsons, Eiríkr and Agnarr, as her kinsmen, cf. the Notes to 18/8 and 20/7, below. — [5-6]: Rafn (FSN) follows 1824b here, and so does the present ed. Previous eds apart from those of CPB, Valdimar Ásmundarson (Ragn 1891) and Kock (NN §3285), do not seem to have been troubled by the absence of internal alliteration in l. 5. CPB has œng spiꜵll … ꜵnnor … enn nýjari … ‘no news fresher …’ (sic); Valdimar emends as follows: engi spjöll vitum önnur | enn nýjari ‘we know of no (other) still more recent tidings …’, while Kock, retaining the 1824b reading of l. 6, emends in NN §3285 þung ‘heavy’ to ung ‘young’ in l. 5 and reads æ in l. 6 as ei ‘not’, thus: ‘of young (i.e. recent) tidings we know not of others more recent …’; in Skald, on the other hand, he retains the reading þung and replaces vitum with eigum (‘we have no [other] heavy tidings that are more recent …’), here accepting æ (l. 6) as having negative meaning; see the next Note. Metrical irregularity is sufficiently frequent among the stanzas of Ragn to justify acceptance of 1824b’s text here. — [8]: On the eagle as a bird of battle and its association with Óðinn as a god of war, see Jesch (2002b, 267).



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 6: AII, 235-6, BII, 255, Skald II, 133, NN §§1458, 1459, 3197F, 3285; FSN 1, 264 (Ragn ch. 9), Ragn 1891, 197 (ch. 9), Ragn 1906-8, 141-2, 182, 206-7 (ch. 10), Ragn 1944, 68-9 (ch. 10), FSGJ 1, 251-2 (Ragn ch. 10), Ragn 1985, 125-6 (ch.10), Ragn 2003, 37 (ch. 10), CPB II, 349.


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