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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mhkv 17III

Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 17’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1231.

Anonymous PoemsMálsháttakvæði

text and translation

Varla sýnisk alt, sem er,
*ýtum þeim, er bægir drer;
eigi at eins er í fǫgru fengr;
fundit mun, þat er reynt er lengr.
Ekki var þat forðum farald,
Finnan gat þó œrðan Harald,
hánum þótti sólbjǫrt sú,
slíks dœmi verðr mǫrgum nú.

Varla sýnisk alt, sem er, þeim *ýtum, er drer bægir; eigi at eins er fengr í fǫgru; mun fundit, þat er lengr er reynt. Ekki var þat farald forðum; Finnan gat þó Harald œrðan; hánum þótti sú sólbjǫrt; mǫrgum verðr nú dœmi slíks.
‘All seems hardly as it is to those men afflicted by eye-disease; not only in the beautiful is there gain; that shall come to light which is inquired into the longer. It wasn’t a malady in the old days; still, the Saami girl drove Haraldr out of his mind; to him she seemed bright as the sun; instances of such happen to many now.

notes and context

[1-2]: One of the few run-on couplets in Mhkv. — [4]: A favourite proverb in Grettis saga and other sagas: Fleira veit sá, er fleira reynir ‘He learns more who investigates more’ (Gr ch. 14, ÍF 7, 38); Þá veit þat, er reynt er ‘That will be shown when it has been tested’, i.e. ‘that remains to be seen’ (Gr ch. 40, ÍF 7, 136). See also Ísl. Málsh.: reyna. — [4]: The reading here is based on the transcripts of RFJ and RJS, who confirm all the words except for þat.  — [5-8]: The refrain has been supplied from st. 11/5-8.



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], A. [1]. Málsháttakvæði 17: AII, 134, BII, 142, Skald II, 76, NN §55; Möbius 1874, 8, Wisén 1886-9, I, 75.


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