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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Gyð 3VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Gyðingsvísur 3’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 519-20.

Anonymous PoemsGyðingsvísur

text and translation

Hvarf er þeim, er þurfa,
þingnárungum, váru,
branda rjóðr í bráðar
brynflagð*a nauðsynjar.
Fekk strandloga stökkvir
stígverjanda hverjum
fráns af fjárhlut sínum
fullar hendr, meðan endiz.

{Rjóðr branda} er hvarf {þeim {{brynflagð*a} þing}nárungum}, er váru þurfa, í bráðar nauðsynjar. {Stökkvir {strandloga}} fekk {hverjum {fráns stíg}verjanda} hendr fullar af fjárhlut sínum, meðan endiz.
‘The reddener of swords [WARRIOR] is a support for those beings of the assembly of the trolls of the mailcoat [(lit. ‘assembly-beings of the mailcoat-trolls’) AXES > BATTLE > WARRIORS] who were poor, in cases of sudden need. The flinger of shore-flame [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] gave every defender of the path of the snake [(lit. ‘snake’s path-defender’) GOLD > MAN] hands full of his wealth, while it lasted.

notes and context

[1-4]: In l. 1 the second word is difficult to read in B, but Finnur Jónsson’s ‘er’ (Skj A) is almost certainly right; he noted there that 399a-bˣ’s suggested firi must be incorrect, and similarly Rydberg’s vid. Attwood 1996a, 116 has til. Rydberg (1907, 59) reads the word as við and takes hvarf to be 3rd pers. sg. pret. of hverfa ‘to turn’. He arranges rjóðr branda hvarf við þeim þingnárum brynflagðra í bráðar nauðsynjar ‘the reddener of swords turned to the assembly-beings of mailcoat-trolls in cases of sudden need’. Although this interpretation is grammatically possible, it is rather unlikely in context. Assuming the rjóðr branda of l. 3 to be identified with sá er kunni veita fírum unnleyg* in 2/1-2 and with the person whose generosity is eulogised in 3/5-8 and st. 4, it is difficult to understand why he should approach other men for financial help in 3/1-4. This edn follows Skj B in taking hvarf as the nom. sg. of n. hvarf ‘shelter, refuge, support, help’ (cf. Fritzner: hvarf 2), which fits rather better with the second helmingr and with the situation of other people’s dependency on the rich man established in st. 2 and confirmed in st. 4. There appear to be two possible interpretations of the remaining phrase er váru þurfa (ll. 1-2). This edn follows Finnur Jónsson in taking váru as 3rd pers. pl. pret. of vera ‘to be’, construed with brynflagða þingnárungar (see Note below). Þurfa (l. 1) is taken to be the corresponding form of the adj. þurfi meaning ‘needy’. This interpretation is corroborated by a parallel use of the adj. in the ONorw. Bjarkö-ret: Fylkisprestr eðr annarr í stað hans skal heima vera ok gera mönnum reiðu ef þurfa eru ‘The district priest or another in his stead must remain at home and provide assistance for people if they are needy’ (NGL I, 315; CVC; Fritzner: þurfi.).



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 XIV], [B. 13]. Af et digt om en rig mand, der gav alt sit bort 3: AII, 539, BII, 598, Skald II, 331; Rydberg 1907, 41-2, 59, Attwood 1996a, 346.


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