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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gestumbl Heiðr 31VIII (Heiðr 78)

Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 78 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur 31)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 445.

GestumblindiHeiðreks gátur

Hest sá ek standa;         hýddi meri,
dúði dyndil,         drap hlaun und kvið.
Ór skal draga         ok †gjöpta† at góða stund.
Heiðrekr konungr,         hyggðu at gátu.

Ek sá hest standa; hýddi meri, dúði dyndil, hlaun drap und kvið. Ór skal draga ok †gjöpta† at góða stund. Heiðrekr konungr, hyggðu at gátu.

I saw a stallion stand; it flogged a mare, shook the penis, buttock beat under belly. [It] shall draw out and … a good while. King Heiðrekr, think about the riddle.

Mss: 281ˣ(100v), 597bˣ(51r) (Heiðr)

Readings: [2] meri: meri corrected from manni in the margin in another hand 597bˣ    [3] dúði: ‘daudt’ 281ˣ, dauðr corrected from dúði in the margin in another hand after correction from ‘dr[…]e’ in the scribal hand 597bˣ    [4] hlaun: laun all;    und: undir 597bˣ    [5] draga: ‘draga skal draga’ 597bˣ    [7-8] abbrev. as ‘heidr: kr’ 281ˣ, abbrev. as ‘h K:’ 597bˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 228, Skj BII, 247, Skald II, 128, NN §3284; Heiðr 1873, 258, Heiðr 1924, 78, Heiðr 1960, 81-2; Edd. Min. 118.

Notes: [All]: Heiðrekr’s response is (Heiðr 1960, 82): Hest þann kallar þú línvef, en skeið meri hans, en upp ok ofan skal hrista vefinn ‘You call that stallion linen cloth, and the weaver’s rod his mare, and up and down the web shall be shaken’. Tolkien (Heiðr 1960, 82 n.) points out that the solution ‘is obviously wrong: the “mare” is the web on the loom, which is alternately raised up and pressed down by the rod or slay’. In the prose following the riddle, before giving the solution Heiðrekr invites his courtiers to solve it, but they are unable to. The riddle’s obvious sexual overtones perhaps explain its omission in the R and U redactions and its textual problems in the H-redaction mss. — [1] ek sá ‘I saw’: See Note to Heiðr 48/2 above. — [3] dúði ‘shook’: This reading is in the scribal hand in 597bˣ, but is a correction to a now illegible original. — [3] dyndil ‘penis’: Cf. Fritzner: dindill; LP: dyndill. A hap. leg. in poetry and found in prose only as a nickname in three instances in the Flat version of Hák (the form dyntill is found in the versions of F and 81a). Perhaps cf. ONP: dyrðill, dyðrill ‘short tail, stump of a tail’ and Anon Ól 6/6I and Note. — [4] hlaun ‘buttock’: A hap. leg. in poetry. The emendation is made by all eds. — [5-6]: ‘Gjöpta’ l. 6 is not a known Old Norse word. Neither Skj B nor Heiðr 1960 attempt reconstruction, and the suggestions of Kock (Skald; NN §3284), Bugge (Heiðr 1873) and Edd. Min. are conjectural and not particularly satisfactory.


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. 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.
  6. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  7. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  8. Edd. Min. = Heusler, Andreas and Wilhelm Ranisch, eds. 1903. Eddica Minora: Dichtungen eddischer Art aus den Fornaldarsögur und anderen Prosawerken. Dortmund: Ruhfus. Rpt. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
  9. Heiðr 1924 = Jón Helgason, ed. 1924. Heiðreks saga. Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks konungs. SUGNL 48. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  10. Heiðr 1960 = Tolkien, Christopher, ed. and trans. 1960. Saga Heiðreks konungs ins vitra / The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise. Nelson Icelandic Texts. London etc.: Nelson.
  11. Heiðr 1873 = Bugge, Sophus, ed. 1873. Hervarar saga ok Heidreks. Det Norske oldskriftselskabs samlinger 17. Christiania (Oslo): Brøgger.
  12. Internal references
  13. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (Hák)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  14. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ 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, pp. clxi-clxii.
  15. Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 48 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 410.
  16. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Poem about Óláfr Tryggvason 6’ 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. 1067.

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