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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mhkv 4III

Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1219.

Anonymous PoemsMálsháttakvæði

text and translation

Ró skyldu menn reiði gefa;
raunlítit kømsk opt á þrefa;
gagarr er skaptr, þvít geyja skal;
gera ætlak mér létt of tal.
Verit hafði mér verra í hug;
var þat nær sem kveisu flug;
jafnan fagnar kvikr maðr kú;
kennir hins, at gleðjumk nú.

Menn skyldu gefa reiði ró; raunlítit kømsk opt á þrefa; gagarr er skaptr, þvít skal geyja; ætlak gera mér létt of tal. Hafði mér verit verra í hug; var þat nær sem flug kveisu; kvikr maðr fagnar jafnan kú; kennir hins, at gleðjumk nú.
‘Men should give rest to their wrath; often a very little thing occasions strife; a dog is shaped for barking; I intend to make my speech lighthearted. Something worse had been in my mind; it was almost like the pain of a boil; the living man always rejoices in a cow; it is clear that I am cheering up now.

notes and context

[1]: Cf. Am 78/7 (NK 259): skǫmm mun ró reiði ‘short will be wrath’s rest’. Reiði ‘wrath’ (older vreiði) is required by alliteration. The loss of v- also means that the poem cannot be Norwegian (see ANG §288 Anm. 1). — [3]: For similar proverbs, see Ísl. Málsh.: hundur. For the theory that Lat. canis ‘dog’ was named for its bark (canor ‘song’, canere ‘resound’), see Isidore, Etym. 12.2.25. — [7]: Cf. Hávm 70/3 (NK 28): ey getr qvicr kú ‘the living man always gets the cow’.


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 4: AII, 131, BII, 139, Skald II, 74, NN §3270; Möbius 1874, 4, Wisén 1886-9, I, 73.


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