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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Ól 6I

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.

Anonymous PoemsPoem about Óláfr Tryggvason

Upp dró hilmir heppinn
hugstrangr á Orm langan
mann, sá er mentir kunni
mest, af sjó í festi.
‘Víst hefir vöknað næsta
vendr dyrðill þinn, frændi,’
yngvi öðrum kóngum
†aflagðr† fyrir sagði.

Heppinn, hugstrangr hilmir, sá er kunni mentir mest, dró mann í festi upp af sjó á Orm langan. ‘Vendr dyrðill þinn hefir víst næsta vöknað, frændi,’ sagði yngvi fyrir, †aflagðr† öðrum kóngum.

The lucky, strong-minded lord, who was most able in skills, dragged the man on a rope up out of the sea onto Ormr langr (‘Long Serpent’). ‘Your fine cloak has surely got almost soaked, kinsman,’ declared the prince, … other kings.

Mss: 61(72r) (ÓT); 761bˣ(151r)

Readings: [4] festi: fest 61, ‘festi’ 761bˣ    [6] vendr: ‘uændr’ 61    [7] yngvi: ‘yngi’ 61, 761bˣ;    kóngum: ‘k̄gm’ 61, 761bˣ    [8] fyrir: ‘fara’ 761bˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 462-3, Skj BII, 495, Skald II, 270, NN §3347; Finnur Jónsson 1884-91, 115-16, 120-2, ÓT 1958-2000, III, xxxiv, AM 61 1982, 23-4.

Notes: [All]: Óláfr’s words are very similar to those quoted in ÓT (1958-2000, II, 233): hvat er nv frændi. huart hefir vo᷎knat dydrillinn þinn ‘what’s up, kinsman, has your fine cloak/tail got soaked?’. ÓTOdd is less close, and also says the king swam after Þorkell rather than pulling him up on a rope, as ÓT and the stanza relate. The incident is reminiscent of the Akkerisfrakki episode in Hallfreðar saga in which Óláfr also supplies a rope to help people in trouble at sea (see Hfr Lv 4V (Hallfr 5), ÓTr Lv 1V (Hallfr 6) and Lindow 2007). — [2] Orm langan ‘Ormr langr (“Long Serpent”)’: Óláfr Tryggvason’s famous ship Ormr inn langi is here referred to using the strong form of the adj. langan (m. acc. sg.). — [4] festi (f. dat. sg.) ‘a rope’: Minor emendation is necessary here to restore the line-final disyllabic cadence. Ms. 761bˣ has festi, but the underlining of ‘i’ may indicate doubt or conjecture. — [6] vendr ‘fine’: Another minor emendation. The word is rare, but a similar sense is found in vend ljóð ‘excellent songs’ in the C16th Pontus rímur I, 90/2 (Pontus rímur 1961, 16, 461). This sense of vendr seems to be connected with vandr ‘difficult’ and vandaðr ‘elaborate, choice’ (from vanda ‘to make carefully, take pains over’); see ÍO: vendur; AEW: vendr. Ólafur Halldórsson (AM 61 1982, 24) argues that vendr here is ‘close, near’ (Fritzner IV: vendr), and should be construed with frændi ‘kinsman’. This is also possible (Þorkell is said in some sources to be Óláfr’s uncle; see Introduction) but seems less apposite, as the splendour of Þorkell’s cloak, also stressed in st. 7, is what gives the anecdote its point. The rhyme of vend- : frænd- finds parallels in the rímur (Finnur Jónsson 1884-91, 121). — [6] dyrðill ‘cloak’: This word is usually explained as meaning ‘tail, stump’ (ÍO, ONP: dyrðill), in which case ÓT’s prose (see Note to [All] above) must be using it as a pars pro toto for Þorkell himself. Alternatively, as the prose sources imply, it could mean ‘precious garment, finery’ (from dýrð f. ‘splendour, splendid thing’, ONP: dýrðill; cf. ÍF 25, 268 n. 1). Dyrðill is both a common noun and Þorkell’s nickname, which appears in the younger metathesised form as dyðrill in some mss (cf. ÍF 25, 268; ÍF 26, 302 n. 2). It is taken here as a reference to Þorkell’s splendid cloak (see st. 7), but it could equally well refer to Þorkell; Skj B translates vendr dyrðill þinn as a direct address: du, din prægtige Dyrdil ‘you, fine Dyrðill’. — [7] yngvi ‘the prince’: Ólafur Halldórsson in ÓT 1958-2000 reads yngri ‘younger’, but as he notes in AM 61 1982, 24, yngvi is a possible expansion of the abbreviation (and so Skj A).  — [7] kóngum ‘kings’: Abbreviated in the ms. The younger disyllabic contracted form of konungum (dat. pl.) ‘kings’ is metrically necessary here; see Note to st. 4/2. — [8] †aflagðr† ‘…’: Previous eds were baffled by this word, which is only otherwise attested in ModIcel. (OHá: aflagður ‘laid off, disused’) and seems most likely to be an alternative inflectional form of ON aflaginn, which ONP glosses as ‘deviated from, abandoned’. The context suggests praise of Óláfr ‘above other kings’ is intended; a tentative translation of aflagðr öðrum kóngum could then be ‘set apart above other kings’, cf. Fritzner: leggja af 2. — [8] sagði fyrir ‘declared’: The function of fyrir, normally ‘for, before’, is unclear. It is tentatively taken with sagði here, though segja fyrir most often means ‘foretell, prescribe’. It is unlikely to govern öðrum kóngum ‘other kings’ since separated from it. Both Árni Magnússon (761bˣ) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj A) expand the abbreviated word to fara ‘to go’ rather than fyrir, but this is still more difficult to explain.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  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. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  7. 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.
  8. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  9. ÍO = Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon. 1989. Íslensk orðsifjabók. Reykjavík: Orðabók Háskólans.
  10. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  11. Fritzner IV = Hødnebø, Finn. 1972. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog af Dr. Johan Fritzner: Rettelser og tillegg. Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø: Universitetsforlaget.
  12. AM 61 1982 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1982. The Great Sagas of Olaf Tryggvason and Olaf the Saint: AM 61 fol. EIM 14. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  13. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  14. ÍF 25 = Færeyinga saga; Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar eptir Odd munk Snorrason. Ed. Ólafur Halldórsson. 2006.
  15. Finnur Jónsson. 1884-91. ‘5. Nogle skjaldevers om Olaf Tryggvessen, marginalier fra AM 61, fol.’. In Kålund et al. 1884-91, 114-26.
  16. Lindow, John. 2007a. ‘Akkerisfrakki: Traditions Concerning Óláfr Tryggvason and Hallfreðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld and the Problem of the Conversion’. JEGP 108, 64-80.
  17. Pontus rímur 1961 = Grímur M. Helgason, ed. 1961. Pontus rímur. Eftir Magnús Jónsson prúða, Pétur Einarsson og Síra Ólaf Halldórsson. Rit Rímnafélagsins. Reykjavík: Rímnafélagið.
  18. OHá = Orðabók Háskólans.
  19. Internal references
  20. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ 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. clxiii-clxvi.
  21. Not published: do not cite (HallfrV)
  22. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar by Oddr Snorrason (ÓTOdd)’ 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. clxxiv-clxxv.
  23. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Óláfr Tryggvason’ 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. 383.
  24. Not published: do not cite (Hfr Lv 4V (Hallfr 5))
  25. Not published: do not cite (ÓTr Lv 1V (Hallfr 6))
  26. Not published: do not cite ()

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