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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Nkt 1II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Anonymous Poems, Nóregs konungatal 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 762-3.

Anonymous PoemsNóregs konungatal

text and translation

Þat verðr skylt,
ef at skilum yrkja,
greppum þeim,
at gleði fyrða,
allra helzt,
ef eru færi
virðar þeir,
an verit hǫfðu.

Þat verðr skylt þeim greppum, ef yrkja at skilum, at gleði fyrða, allra helzt, ef þeir virðar eru færi, an verit hǫfðu.
‘It is the obligation of the poets, if they compose correctly, that they gladden people, above all, if those men are fewer than they have been.

notes and context

[6-8] ef þeir virðar eru færi, an verit hǫfðu ‘if those men are fewer than they have been’: The sense must be that the poet’s current audience is smaller than it was before. It is tempting to connect this rather obscure reference with the manndauðr mikill ‘great dying of people’, which, according to the Icel. annals, took place in 1192 (Storm 1888, s. a. 1192, p. 61). Between mid-October 1192 and the end of May 1193, more than 2000 people died of illness and hunger in the Northern Quarter of Iceland. Jón’s daughter, Solveig, also died in 1193. Alternatively, þeir virðar ‘those men’ could refer to the poets (þeim greppum, l. 3), and taken to mean that there were fewer poets who, at this time, were able to compose encomia. Hence it was the obligation of those poets who still possessed that skill, to entertain people.



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 XII], [2]. Nóregs konunga-tal 1: AI, 579, BI, 575, Skald I, 278, NN §3128; Flat 1860-8, II, 520.


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