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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Gyð 2VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Gyðingsvísur 2’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 518-19.

Anonymous PoemsGyðingsvísur

Út var einn, sá er veita
unnleyg* firum kunni,
beitir bráðra sóta
barðs í Miklagarði.
Fúrbrigðir vann frægðar
fjölmætr og ágætis
Hlies við hirðiásu
hafleygjar sier aflað.

Út í Miklagarði var {einn beitir {bráðra sóta barðs}}, sá er kunni veita firum {unnleyg*}. {Fjölmætr {Hlies fúr}brigðir} vann sier aflað frægðar og ágætis við {hirðiásu {hafleygjar}}.

Out in Constantinople there was {a certain steerer {of the swift steeds of the prow}} [SHIPS > SEAFARER], one who knew how to grant men {wave-flame} [GOLD]. {The very distinguished spreader {of the fire of Hlér <sea-god>}} [(lit. ‘fire-spreader of Hlér’) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] succeeded in earning fame and glory for himself from {the guardian-gods {of the wave-flame}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MEN].

Mss: B(14v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [2] unnleyg*: ‘vnn[...]eygs’ B, BFJ, vnnleygs 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg    [4] Miklagarði: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘micla[...]di’ B, ‘micla[...]ardi’ BRydberg, BFJ    [5] Fúrbrigðir: ‘f(a)rbrigdir’(?) BRydberg, ‘fyrbrigdir’ BFJ    [7] Hlies: ‘[...]es’ all    [8] hafleygjar: ‘[...]fle[...]iar’ all

Editions: Skj AII, 539, Skj BII, 597, Skald II, 331; Rydberg 1907, 41, 59, Attwood 1996a, 346.

Notes: [3-4] beitir bráðra sóta barðs ‘steerer of the swift steeds of the prow’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), followed by Kock in Skald, emends to bræddra barða, and presumably construes the man-kenning beitir bræddra sóta barða ‘steerer of the tarred steeds of the ship’. His emendation of B’s ‘bardz’ (l. 4) to barða, gen. sg. of m. barði ‘ship’ is unnecessary, however, since barðs may be interpreted as gen. sg. of n. barð ‘beak, prow’, which occurs frequently in ship-kennings (LP: barð – the inclusion of a reference to barðs sóti in the first, 1916 edn of LP suggests that at that time Finnur believed B to be correct here). Finnur’s correction of the adj. to bræddra in Skj B and LP: 2. bræða ‘to tar’, though drastic, is rather happier, though it is possible to make sense of B’s bráðra by taking it as the gen. pl. of bráðr ‘swift, eager, sudden’ agreeing with sóta. — [4] Miklagarði (dat.): Constantinople or Byzantium, modern Istanbul. — [5, 7] Hlies fúrbrigðir ‘Hlér’s fire-spreader [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’: B is badly torn, and most of the first word of l. 7 (fol. 14v, l. 14) is lost. Initial <h> is confirmed by the alliterative pattern. Rydberg reads the last two letters ‘e᷎s’, interpreting hræs gen. sg. of n. hræ ‘carrion, scraps’. A diacritic of some kind is visible, but it might just as well be an accent as a hook. Similarly, fúrbrigðir suffers from manuscript cracking and wearing, but the second letter is <u>, not, as Rydberg reads it, <a> or <y> (so BFJ). Brigðir is an acceptable base-word in a man-kenning with determinant meaning ‘gold’ or something similar. This edn follows Skj B in adopting Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s suggested reconstruction (made in a note to 444ˣ) of the first word of l. 7 to Hlies (earlier Hlés), gen. sg. of Hlér m. which is given as an alternative name for Ægir, a sea-god, in the opening l. of Skm (SnE 1998, I, 1). ‘Hlér’s fire’ thus becomes a gold-kenning on a familiar ‘fire of the sea-god’ pattern (Meissner, 225). Rydberg’s prose arrangement reconstructs the man-kenning fárbrigðir hræs ‘drawer of the enemy of the corpse, drawer of the sword’. — [8] hafleygjar ‘of the wave-flame [GOLD]’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson (note to 444ˣ) suggests reconstruction to hafleygjar, and this has been adopted by all subsequent eds.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  7. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  9. Internal references
  10. Not published: do not cite (SkmIII)

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