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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjbp Jóms 1I

Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 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. 959.

Bjarni byskup KolbeinssonJómsvíkingadrápa
12

Engan kveðk at óði
órum málma rýri
(þó gatk hróðr of hugðan)
hljóðs (atferðar prýði).
Framm mun ek fyr ǫldum
Yggjar bjór of fœra,
þó at engir ýtar
ættgóðir mér hlýði.

Kveðk engan {rýri málma} hljóðs at óði órum; þó gatk hróðr of {hugðan prýði atferðar}. Ek mun of fœra framm {bjór Yggjar} fyr ǫldum, þó at engir ættgóðir ýtar hlýði mér.

I call upon no {diminisher of metal weapons} [WARRIOR] for a hearing for our [my] poem; nonetheless, I have produced a praise-poem {about the courageous adorner of action} [MAN]. I will bring forth {the beer of Yggr <= Óðinn>} [POEM] before people, although no well-born men may listen to me.

Mss: R(53r), 65ˣ(380r)

Readings: [4] prýði: ‘p[…]yði’ R, ‘fnvdi’ 65ˣ, ‘(p)[…](y)ði’(?) RCP, prýði RFJ    [6] bjór: ‘bi[…]’ R, bjór 65ˣ, RCP, RFJ

Editions: Skj AII, 1, Skj BII, 1, Skald II, 1; Fms 11, 163, Fms 12, 241, Jvs 1879, 104-5. 

Context: The stanza is preserved only as part of a continuous text of Jóms in R and hence, together with sts 2-9, 13-16, 19, 21-5, 27, 28, 31, 35-7, 39 and 40, is not embedded in a narrative context.

Notes: [All]: On the use of 65ˣ and the diplomatic texts in Jvs 1879 (siglum RCP when cited in Readings) and Skj A (siglum RFJ) as supplementary witnesses to the R reading, see Introduction to this poem. — [All]: The poet humorously inverts the conventional call for a hearing which opens many skaldic praise-poems (e.g. Eskál Vell 1; cf. Wood 1960a), calling for no-one’s attention, and anticipating that no-one will listen to his composition (though st. 5/7 envisages an audience). The subject of glorious martial deeds is paradigmatic but this, too, is shortly to be undercut by the abrupt change of subject to the poet’s disappointment in love (sts 2, 3, 6, and the stef). — [1-4]: Kveðja e-n e-s ‘to call on sby for sth.’ is well attested. In Fms 11 and 12, each couplet is taken as a syntactic unit and hljóðs ‘a hearing’ is not construed with kveðk ‘I call’; but the remainder of the interpretation departs unnecessarily from the legible text. — [3] hugðan ‘courageous’: This appears to qualify m. acc. sg. prýði, hence ‘courageous adorner’. It could conceivably qualify hróðr ‘praise-poem’, with the sense ‘agreeable’ or similar; cf. a similar phrase in HSt Rst 34/7. — [4] prýði atferðar ‘about the adorner of action [MAN]’: Atferð normally means ‘conduct, behaviour’, but since the kenning refers to one of the Jómsvíkingar the reference may be specifically to military action, hence ‘valiant man’ (so LP: prýðir). Finnur Jónsson (Skj A) regards prýði as certain; Carl af Petersens (Jvs 1879) is less sure, but the letters can be made out except for the ‘r’. Prýði appears to be acc. sg. of the agent noun prýðir, following the prep. of ‘about’ and forming a kenning for ‘man’ or ‘warrior’, although prýðir is not common in such kennings (see Meissner 299). The identification of the man or warrior is problematic since the poem is concerned with several heroes, but Vagn Ákason is especially prominent (see sts 8, 9/7-8). — [6] bjór Yggjar ‘the beer of Yggr <= Óðinn> [POEM]’: The sense of bjórr could be more broadly ‘strong drink’; cf. Note to Mhkv 29/3III, where the kenning bjórr Yggjar is also found. The reference is to the myth of the mead of poetry (see Note to Eskál Vell 1 [All]; Frank 1981; Faulkes 1997; Finlay 2000). — [6] of fœra ‘bring’: Of is the expletive particle, the first of several examples in the poem. — [8] hlýði ‘may listen’: A scribal mark follows this, the last word in the stanza, indicating a change to the stanza order; see Introduction. 

References

  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. 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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  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. Frank, Roberta. 1981. ‘Snorri and the Mead of Poetry’. In Dronke et al. 1981, 155-70.
  8. Wood, Cecil. 1960a. ‘The Skald’s Bid for a Hearing’. JEGP 59, 240-54.
  9. Jvs 1879 = Petersens, Carl af, ed. 1879. Jómsvíkinga saga (efter Cod. AM. 510, 4:to) samt Jómsvíkinga drápa. Lund: Gleerup.
  10. Faulkes, Anthony. 1997. Poetical Inspiration in Old Norse and Old English Poetry. The Dorothea Coke Memorial Lecture in Northern Studies, delivered at University College London, 28 November 1997. Birmingham: Viking Society for Northern Research/University College London.
  11. Finlay, Alison. 2000a. ‘Pouring Óðinn’s Mead: An Antiquarian Theme?’. In Barnes et al. 2000, 85-99.
  12. Internal references
  13. Matthew Townend 2012, ‘(Biography of) Vagn Ákason’ 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. 365.
  14. Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 29’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1242.
  15. Emily Lethbridge 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa’ 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. 954.
  16. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 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. 283.
  17. Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 34’ 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. 937.
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