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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mhkv 21III

Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 21’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1235.

Anonymous PoemsMálsháttakvæði

Yndit láta engir falt;
allopt verðr í hreggi svalt;
andaðs dr*úpa minjar mest;
magran skyldi kaupa hest.
Œrit þykkir viðkvæm vá;
vinfengin ’ró misjǫfn þá;
fasthaldr varð á Fenri lagðr;
fíkjum var mér ramligr sagðr.

Engir láta yndit falt; allopt verðr svalt í hreggi; minjar andaðs dr*úpa mest; skyldi kaupa magran hest. Vá þykkir œrit viðkvæm; vinfengin ’ró þá misjǫfn; fasthaldr varð lagðr á Fenri; var mér sagðr fíkjum ramligr.

None puts his love up for sale; very often it becomes cool in a storm; memories of a dead man droop the most; one should buy a lean horse. Woe seems tangible enough; friendships are unequal then; a fetter was laid on Fenrir; I was told it was hugely strong.

Mss: R(55r)

Readings: [1] Yndit: ‘Vndit’ R, ‘Yndit’ RFJ    [3] dr*úpa: drjúpa R    [6] vinfengin: vinfegin R

Editions: Skj AII, 134, Skj BII, 143, Skald II, 77, NN §2581D; Möbius 1874, 9, Wisén 1886-9, I, 75.

Notes: [1]: For similar proverbs, see Ísl. Málsh.: auður (1). — [1] engir láta yndit falt ‘none puts his love up for sale’: Yndi lit. means ‘happiness, bliss’ and by extension ‘love’. The subject (engir) as well as the finite verb (láta lit. ‘let’) are in the pl. — [2] allopt ‘very often’: The word is attested in poetry only here. — [3] dr*úpa ‘droop’: Drúpa means ‘droop or bow down (in sorrow)’. The emendation (from drjúpa) was first suggested by Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, II, 141). Drúpa, not found in later Icelandic, was sometimes confused with the (overlapping in sense) verb drjúpa ‘drip, hang one’s head’; see Anon Sól 39/3VII. The sense of the proverb is disputed, with suggestions ranging from ‘memories of the dead fade fast’ (NN §2581D) to ‘memorials for the dead man keep his memory most alive’ (Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, II, 141; Skj B). — [4]: Cf. Hávm 83/3 (NK 30): (scal) magran mar kaupa ‘one should buy a lean horse’. — [6] vinfengin ‘friendships’: The n. noun vinfengi with cliticised def. art. The ms. has vinfegin lit. ‘friend-happy’, which cannot be construed to make any sense in the context. The emendation was first suggested by Jón Sigurðsson (Möbius 1874, 9 n.). — [6] ’ró ‘are’: See Note to st. 20/1. — [7] fasthaldr ‘a fetter’: This word is also used as a noun to denote a part of a ship in ms. A of SnE (SnE 1848-87, II, 494); otherwise it is only attested as an adj. with the meaning ‘steady, firm, stingy’. — [7] Fenri ‘Fenrir’: Name of the wolf, enemy of the gods, fettered by the Æsir until the end of the world. Gylf (SnE 2005, 25, 27-8) describes the glee of all the gods but Týr on learning that the fetter Gleipnir worked. Fenrir breaking his fetter signals the onset of Ragnarǫk: cf. Vsp 44/3-4 and 49/3-4 (NK 10-11): festr mun slitna, | enn freki renna ‘the fetter will break and the wolf run free’. — [8] fíkjum ‘hugely’: The dat. pl. of the adj. fíkr ‘eager, greedy’ is sometimes used as an adv. modifying an adj., as here and in Bjbp Jóms 12/6I, 26/8I and 41/6I (LP: fíkr; CVC: fíkjum). The speaker’s folksy aside – ‘I was told it was hugely strong’ – seems ingenuous, intended to provoke a smile. — [8] var ‘was’: The pron. hann ‘he’ (R: var hann) is extrametrical and has been deleted.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. 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.
  7. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1886-9. Carmina Norrœnæ: Ex reliquiis vetustioris norrœnæ poësis selecta, recognita, commentariis et glossario instructa. 2 vols. Lund: Ohlsson.
  9. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  10. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  11. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  12. Ísl. Málsh. = Bjarni Vilhjálmsson and Óskar Halldórsson, eds. 1979. Íslenzkir málshættir. 2nd edn. Reykjavík: Almenna Bókafélagið.
  13. Möbius, Theodor. 1874. ‘Malshatta-kvædi’. ZDP Ergänzungsband, 3-73, 615-16.
  14. Internal references
  15. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  16. (forthcoming), ‘ Snorri Sturluson, Gylfaginning’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <> (accessed 28 September 2021)
  17. Carolyne Larrington and Peter Robinson (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Sólarljóð 39’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 322-3.
  18. Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 12’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 969.
  19. Not published: do not cite ()
  20. Not published: do not cite ()

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