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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (Ragn) 2VIII (Ragn 32)

Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 32 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar 2)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 687.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar


These six stanzas, quoted in a chapter (19) of the Y-redaction (preserved in 1824b) of Ragn that arguably did not form part of the X-redaction (preserved in 147), resemble a mannjafnaðr ‘comparison of men’, in which male rivals boast of their own daring achievements, usually in battle, and their opponent’s lack of such virtues. They introduce several conventional topics of such dialogues: accusations of cowardice and lack of battle-worthiness, preference for soft, stay-at-home activities over participation in manly fights. The last two stanzas, however, are conciliatory, as the two speakers agree that they are both worthy warriors.

text and translation

Seg þú frá þegnsköpum þínum!
Þik ráðumz ek spyrja:
hvar sáttu hrafn á hríslu
hrolla dreyrafullan?
Optar þáttu at öðrum
í öndvegi fundinn,
en þú dreyrug hræ drægir
í dal fyrir valfugla.

Seg þú frá þegnsköpum þínum! Ek ráðumz spyrja þik: hvar sáttu dreyrafullan hrafn hrolla á hríslu? Optar þáttu at öðrum, fundinn í öndvegi, en þú drægir dreyrug hræ í dal fyrir {valfugla}.
‘Speak of your exploits! I venture to ask you: where did you see a raven, full of blood, fluttering on a branch? You received from others, [and were] found in the high seat, more often than you could have dragged bloody corpses into a valley for carnage-birds [RAVENS/EAGLES].

notes and context

Once all the sons of Ragnarr are dead, none of their followers can find leaders of comparable excellence, although two of them search separately for such a leader. The two searchers finally meet at a royal funeral feast, one of them arriving before the other. Once they are both present, the one who arrived first initiates an exchange of stanzas between them. In this stanza he accuses the one who arrived second of having more experience of the banqueting hall than of the field of battle.

[5-8]: The meaning appears to be that the person addressed has more often received than given, has more often been regaled with food and drink in the banqueting hall than he has regaled the birds of battle (the valfuglar of l. 8) with corpses of the slain (so Kock NN §1464 and most translators). Kock rightly criticises Finnur’s emendation (Skj B) of dat. pl. öðrum to n. dat. sg. öðru, and his translation of þáttu at as (oftere) har du … kikket efter ‘you have (more often) … looked at’ in l. 5, thus producing the meaning ‘You have more often looked at something else than …’, which says very little, and seems to imply a mistaken view of þáttu as pret. of þekkja ‘perceive, recognise’, rather than of þiggja ‘receive, accept’.


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 X 1: AII, 240, BII, 259, Skald II, 135, NN §§1464, 2151, 2373, 2983; FSN 1, 296 (Ragn ch. 20), Ragn 1891, 221 (ch. 20), Ragn 1906-8, 171, 216 (ch. 19), Ragn 1944, 124-7 (ch. 21), FSGJ 1, 282 (Ragn ch. 19), Ragn 1985, 150 (ch. 19), Ragn 2003, 65 (ch. 19), CPB II, 352.


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