Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Bragi Rdr 6III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Ragnarsdrápa 6’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 36.

Bragi inn gamli BoddasonRagnarsdrápa

Mjǫk lét stála støkkvir
styðja Gjúka niðja
flaums, þás fjǫrvi næma
Foglhildar mun vildu.
Ok bláserkjar birkis
ballfǫgr gǫtu allir
ennihǫgg ok eggjar
Jónakrs sonum launa.

{Støkkvir {flaums stála}} lét mjǫk styðja {niðja Gjúka}, þás vildu næma {mun Foglhildar} fjǫrvi. Ok allir launa {sonum Jónakrs} ballfǫgr ennihǫgg {birkis bláserkjar} ok {gǫtu eggjar}.

{The impeller {of the eddy of steel}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR = Jǫrmunrekkr] caused {the descendants of Gjúki <legendary king>} [= Hamðir and Sǫrli] to be greatly pressed, when they intended to deprive {the delight of Bird-hildr <= Svanhildr>} [= Jǫrmunrekkr] of life. And all repay {the sons of Jónakr <legendary king>} [= Hamðir and Sǫrli] for the powerfully splendid forehead blows {of the birch-branch of the dark shirt} [SWORD] and {the path of the sword-blade} [WOUND].

Mss: R(30v-31r), Tˣ(32r), C(2r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Mjǫk: ‘Miott’ C    [3] flaums: glaums Tˣ;    fjǫrvi: fjǫlvi Tˣ;    næma: so C, náma R, Tˣ    [4] Fogl‑: so Tˣ, C, folg‑ R;    mun: ‘mon’ Tˣ;    vildu: vilda Tˣ    [5] ‑serkjar: so C, ‑serkjan R, ‑serkja Tˣ    [6] ball‑: so C, bǫll R, Tˣ;    gǫtu (‘gꜹtu’): gauta C    [8] Jónakrs: ‘onakurs’ C

Editions: Skj AI, 2, Skj BI, 2, Skald I, 1, NN §§214, 215, 2002, 2985A; SnE 1848-87, I, 372-3, II, 576-7, III, 60-1, SnE 1931, 134, SnE 1998, I, 51.

Context: See Context to st. 3. This stanza follows immediately upon Rdr 5 in three mss of SnE, R, and C.

Notes: [1, 3] støkkvir flaums stála ‘the impeller of the eddy of steel [BATTLE > WARRIOR = Jǫrmunrekkr]’: If flaums ‘torrent, eddy’ (l. 3) is taken as part of a warrior-kenning, it is strictly unnecessary, as støkkvir stáls ‘the impeller of steel’ alone would suffice as a warrior-kenning. However, Bragi uses a similar kenning flaumr sverða ‘the eddy of swords [BATTLE]’ in st. 3/4, so the likelihood that this is a tvíkent kenning, with Jǫrmunrekkr as its referent, is increased. Other attempts to construe flaums with different parts of the first helmingr are all unsatisfactory (see Marold 1983, 71-3 for an assessment). — [2] styðja ‘to be pressed’: That is, to be hard pressed. An unusual sense of this verb, which normally means ‘support’. A similar sense, in which ‘support’ implies ‘prop up, rest sth. on sth. else’ is found in Vsp 21/3-4 (NK 2) er Gullveigo | geirom studdo ‘when they propped up Gullveig with spears’. — [2] niðja Gjúka ‘the descendants of Gjúki <legendary king> [= Hamðir and Sǫrli]’: Gjúki was the brothers’ maternal grandfather, being the father of their mother Guðrún and her brothers Gunnarr and Hǫgni. — [4] mun Foglhildar ‘the delight of Bird-hildr <= Svanhildr> [= Jǫrmunrekkr]’: Jǫrmunrekkr was married to Hamðir’s and Sǫrli’s sister Svanhildr. Bragi here plays on the way that svanr is used in kennings to represent ‘bird’ in general (LP: svanr). — [5-8]: These lines are difficult and a number of possible interpretations have been proposed. The basic sense of the helmingr is that the Goths, at Jǫrmunrekkr’s direction, repay (launa) Hamðir and Sǫrli for their attack upon their leader. (a) The interpretation adopted here follows most closely the view of Marold (1983, 73-5; cf. Finnur Jónsson 1930-1, 265-6) as being the best in terms of its attention to poetic syntax and the normal rules of kenning formation. Birki bláserkjar ‘birch-branch of the dark shirt (i.e. mail-shirt)’ is taken to belong to a pattern of sword-kenning in which the base-word is a twig or reed, or occasionally a specific tree species (cf. Meissner 152). (b) In Skj B Finnur Jónsson construed the second element of the cpd ballfagr (l. 6) as belonging to gǫtu and understood the presence of a kenning fagrgata bláserkjar birkis (see LP: fagrgata), sverdets lyse vej ‘the sword’s shining path [WOUND]’. He then understood a rather awkward intercalary clause comprising ennihǫgg ball ok eggjar (ll. 6, 7) with the verb ball ‘resounded’ (from bella) having a coordinate subject, pandehug rungede og sværdene lød ‘forehead blows rang and swords resounded’. (c) Kock (NN §§215, 2002) also took ennihǫgg ok eggjar together, understanding them as a coordinate object of launa ‘repay’, and in this he was followed by Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 266, 343). For this interpretation to work, the noun hǫgg ‘blows’ must be understood with both enni- and eggjar-, as a kind of hendiadys, to give the following prose word order: ok allir launa sonum Jónakrs ballfǫgr (or bǫlfǫgr) ennihǫgg ok eggjar[hǫgg] birkis bláserkjar ‘and all repay the sons of Jónakr [= Hamðir and Sǫrli] for the powerfully shining (or ‘evilly shining’) forehead- and sword-blade blows of the birches of the dark shirt [WARRIORS = Hamðir and Sǫrli]’. The sense of the kenning birkis bláserkjar in this interpretation is unusual, and depends upon birki being understood as a collective noun ‘birches’, which can therefore stand for a group, or in this case, a pair, of warriors. In the interpretation proposed by Marold and adopted above birki is understood as an abstraction ‘something birch-like’ and so ‘birch branch/twig’ and the kenning birki bláserkjar ‘birch branch of the dark shirt (i.e. mail-shirt)’ may then be understood as a kenning for a sword. — [6] ballfǫgr ‘powerfully splendid’: Qualifies ennihǫgg n. pl. and is understood as a cpd formed from two adjectives ballr ‘bold, powerful’ and fagr ‘splendid, fair’. The word is written as a cpd in all mss. Both R and indicate the spelling bǫll-, while C has ball- (adopted here). Another possibility (but not indicated by the ms. spellings) is bǫl- ‘evil(ly)’ (cf. Faulkes, SnE 1998, II, 239). — [6] gǫtu (acc. sg.) ‘the path’: Combines with eggjar ‘of the sword blade’ (l. 7) to form a kenning for a wound. Skald (NN §215) understands the mss’ readings as gôtu (3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. of geta as auxilliary plus the inf. launa) in the sense ‘managed to repay’, but this is unlikely on palaeographical grounds (cf. SnE 1998, I, liii). It also creates a heavy dip in position 2, which is not otherwise found in Bragi’s poetry.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  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. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  9. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  10. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  11. Marold, Edith. 1983. Kenningkunst: Ein Beitrag zu einer Poetik der Skaldendichtung. Quellen und Forschungen zur Sprach- und Kulturgeschichte der germanischen Völker, new ser. 80. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  12. Finnur Jónsson. 1930-1. ‘Brage skjald’. APS 5, 237-86.
  13. Internal references
  14. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  15. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Ragnarsdrápa 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 35.
  16. Not published: do not cite ()

Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.