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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (Styrb) 1I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa 1’ 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. 1076.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísur from Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa

Hildr stendr hverjan myrgin
hjaldrs und rauðum skildi;
nú hafa sigrmeyjar settan
sverðleik Dǫnum harðan.
Eiguð víga vægi
(vill Baldrs faðir illan
Óðinn harðr) sem allir
(óljósan val kjósa).

{Hildr hjaldrs} stendr hverjan myrgin und rauðum skildi; nú hafa {sigrmeyjar} settan Dǫnum {harðan sverðleik}. Eiguð víga vægi, sem allir; Óðinn, harðr faðir Baldrs, vill kjósa illan, óljósan val.

{The Hildr of battle} [VALKYRIE] stands every morning under a red shield; now {the victory-maidens} [VALKYRIES] have established {hard sword-play} [BATTLE] for the Danes. You have to fight with a sword, like everyone; Óðinn, the hard father of Baldr, wishes to choose the wretched, dark slain.

Mss: Flat(87rb) (Flat)

Readings: [5] vægi: ‘ueige’ Flat    [6] faðir: fǫður Flat    [7] harðr: ‘ho᷎rdr’ Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 186-7, Skj BI, 176, Skald I, 94, NN §529; Fms 5, 246-7, Fms 12, 115, Flat 1860-8, II, 71 (Styrb).

Context: Styrbjǫrn becomes hǫfðingi ‘chieftain’ at Jómsborg. While he is there, a finngálkn mikit ‘great monster’ comes up in the moat around the fortress and speaks this stanza. 

Notes: [All]: The metre is dróttkvætt but the pattern of hendingar is not regular. — [1, 2] Hildr hjaldrs ‘the Hildr of battle [VALKYRIE]’: A pleonastic kenning, as Hildr is itself a valkyrie-name. — [1] myrgin ‘morning’: The form is early and rare (ANG §74); Skald prints morgin, which arose through blending of morgunn and myrginn (cf. ANG §173.5). — [3] sigrmeyjar ‘the victory-maidens [VALKYRIES]’: Skj B and Skald both print sig- ‘battle’, but the ms. reads sigr- ‘victory-’; sigrmær is the (nom. sg.) form given in LP; on sig, sigr see also Notes to st. 3/6 and Gizsv Lv 1/5. — [5-8]: This is a problematic helmingr, which Fms 12 declines to interpret, and the sole text in Flat appears to be corrupt. Ms. ‘ho᷎rdr’ in l. 7 presents particular difficulties. It would appear to be the m. pers. n. Hǫrðr (derived from Hǫrðar, people from Hordaland, ANG §159), but this cannot be construed. (a) Skj B emends to the god-name Hǫðr and proposes an elaborate syntax whereby an intercalary clause is split up into no fewer than four parts, spread across all four lines of the helmingr: Óðinn vill kjósa val vægi ‘Óðinn wishes to choose the slain with a sword’. The resultant main clause is also far from self-evident: Eiguð Hǫðr víga sem allir óljósan fǫður Baldrs illan ‘Hǫðr <god> of battles [WARRIOR], like everyone you make the dark father of Baldr [= Óðinn] angry’ (lit. ‘you have Óðinn bad/hostile’), though the thought may be that Óðinn is ill-willed towards warriors who fall in battle (cf. Eyv Hák 15/4 illúðigr mjǫk ‘very hostile’). Moreover, none of the other stanzas in Styrb shows anything like such elaborate syntax. (b) Kock (NN §529; Skald) also emends ‘ho᷎rdr’ to Hǫðr, but offers a much simpler reading. His proposal for l. 5 is tentatively adopted here; it involves assuming a verb *víga ‘to fight’ alongside the normal vega, on the basis of Gmc parallels. For ll. 6-8 he suggests Faðir Baldrs, Óðinn, Hǫðr sem allir, vill kjósa illan, óljósan val ‘The father of Baldr, Óðinn, Hǫðr and everyone, wish(es) to choose the wretched, foul slain’. The basic structure of Kock’s interpretation is tentatively adopted here (including his emendation of fǫður to faðir); but it is hard to understand how Hǫðr, let alone allir ‘all, everyone’, is involved in the choosing of the slain. Accordingly, emendation is here proposed to the adj. harðr ‘hard’, describing Óðinn; see LP: harðr 2 for the adj. applied to human subjects. — [7] sem allir ‘like everyone’: This problematic phrase is here construed with eiguð ‘you have’ in l. 5. The alternative is to take it with vill ... kjósa ‘wishes to choose’ in ll. 6-8 (so Kock; see Note to ll. 5-8 above). 


  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  8. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  9. Internal references
  10. Not published: do not cite (StyrbI)
  11. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál 15’ 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. 189.
  12. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Gizurr svarti (gullbrárskáld), Lausavísa 1’ 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. 818.

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