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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Bjark 4III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Bjarkamál in fornu 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 500.

Anonymous PoemsBjarkamál in fornu
345

Gramr inn gjǫflasti         gœddi hirð sína
Fenju forverki,         Fáfnis miðgarði,
Glasis glóbarri,         Grana fagrbyrði,
Draupnis dýrsveita,         dúni Grafvitnis.

Inn gjǫflasti gramr gœddi hirð sína {forverki Fenju}, {miðgarði Fáfnis}, {glóbarri Glasis}, {fagrbyrði Grana}, {dýrsveita Draupnis}, {dúni Grafvitnis}.

The most munificent prince enriched his retinue with {Fenja’s <giantess’s> toil} [GOLD], {Fáfnir’s <dragon’s> land} [GOLD], {Glasir’s <grove’s> glowing foliage} [GOLD], {Grani’s <horse’s> fair burden} [GOLD], {Draupnir’s <mythical ring’s> precious sweat} [GOLD], {Grafvitnir’s <snake’s> feather-bed} [GOLD].

Mss: R(32v), Tˣ(34r), W(75), U(31r), A(10r), B(3v), 744ˣ(17r), C(3v-4r) (SnE); papp10ˣ(41v), 2368ˣ(93), 743ˣ(73r) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] Gramr: ‘G[…]’ U;    inn: ‘[…]’ U, om. A;    gjǫflasti: ‘[…]sti’ U, ‘gioflatti’ C    [2] gœddi: gladdi U, A, B, C, 2368ˣ;    hirð sína: ‘[…]’ B, hirð sína 744ˣ    [3] Fenju forverki: ‘[…]’ B, ‘feníu foruerke’ 744ˣ    [4] Fáfnis miðgarði: ‘fafnis miðgarþ[…]’ U, ‘[…]’ B, ‘fafniss miðgarde’ 744ˣ    [5] Glasis: ‘[…]’ U    [7] Draupnis: ‘[…]raupnis’ C, Drupnis papp10ˣ, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ;    dýrsveita: ‘[…]’ B, ‘dy᷎r sueíta’ 744ˣ    [8] dúni: ‘[…]’ B, ‘dune’ 744ˣ;    Grafvitnis: ‘[…]fvitnis’ U, ‘[…]’ B, ‘grafvítniss’ 744ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 181, Skj BI, 170, Skald I, 91; SnE 1848-87, I, 400-3, II, 321, 432, 516, 581, III, 68, SnE 1931, 143, SnE 1998, I, 60; LaufE 1979, 271, 348-9.

Context: The three stanzas 4, 5 and 6 are introduced thus in mss of Skm (SnE 1998, I, 60): Í Bjarkamálum inum fornum eru tǫ<l>ð mǫrg gulls heiti ‘In Bjarkamál in fornu many terms for gold are listed’. The stanzas then follow without further prose intervention.

Notes: [All]: The three stanzas 4, 5 and 6 list kennings for gold. All but one are dependent on mythological or legendary narratives for their rationale. Many of these kennings are either not recorded elsewhere or are only found in poetry from the mid-twelfth century onwards (cf. Olrik 1903-10, I, 98-101; Guðrún Nordal 2001, 329-30). There are close parallels between the gold-kennings deployed in these stanzas and those used by Einarr Skúlason in ESk Øxfl (especially sts 1-3, 6 and 9) and by Snorri Sturluson, both as advocated in SnE and as used in SnSt Ht 41-2. Given that Snorri knew and quoted these stanzas from Bjark, they may have served him as a model in Ht 41-2, as the subject of those stanzas is the generosity of Skúli jarl Bárðarson, which may be compared implicitly in Ht with that of Hrólfr kraki (see also SnSt Ht 94/2). — [3] forverki Fenju ‘with Fenja’s <giantess’s> toil [GOLD]’: Fenja was the name of a giantess who, with her partner Menja, was forced by their master Fróði, a legendary king of Denmark, to grind gold with the magic quern Grotti, according to the poem Grottasǫngr, recorded with a long explanatory prose narrative in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 52-7). Similar gold-kennings are meldr fáglýjaðra þýja Fróða ‘the flour of the little-satisfied bondwomen of Fróði’ (Eyv Lv 8/5, 6, 7I) and þann meldr Fenju ‘that flour of Fenja’ (ESk Øxfl 6/6, 7); see further Meissner 228. — [4] miðgarði Fáfnis ‘Fáfnir’s <dragon’s> land [GOLD]’: The reference is to Fáfnir, son of Hreiðmarr, who turned into a dragon and guarded a gold-hoard by lying upon it, hence gold can be called Fáfnir’s land (see Note to l. 6 below and cf. Meissner 239, SnE 1998, I, 45-7 and Þorm Lv 10/2I). In this kenning miðgarðr, normally the name for the world of humans in Old Norse myth, provides a base-word belonging to the semantic field ‘land’. — [5-6]: The lines are fornyrðislag (Type D) rather than málaháttr. — [5] glóbarri Glasis ‘Glasir’s <grove’s> glowing foliage [GOLD]’: This unique kenning (Meissner 227) depends upon knowledge that a grove of trees (or possibly a single tree) named Glasir ‘Shining One’ with red-gold leaves stood before the doors of Valhǫll. The only information about this comes from Skm (SnE 1998, I, 41), where Snorri quotes three lines of an otherwise unknown poem in ljóðaháttr as evidence. The common noun barr is strictly the needles of a conifer (or barley). — [6] fagrbyrði Grana ‘Grani’s <horse’s> fair burden [GOLD]’: Like the kennings of l. 4 and sts 5/5 and 6/5 and 6/6, this kenning alludes to the legend of the Niflungar. In l. 4, reference is made to Fáfnir, who killed his father and guarded the family’s fabulous gold-hoard, before he was killed in turn by the hero Sigurðr; here the allusion is to Sigurðr’s horse, Grani, who carried the gold back from Gnitaheiðr, where Fáfnir’s killing took place; cf. farmi Grana ‘Grani’s burden’ Þblǫnd Sigdr 2/4. SnSt Ht 41/4 (þungfarmr Grana ‘the heavy burden of Grani’) and 41/6 (reiðmálmr Gnitaheiðar ‘the riding-metal of Gnitaheiðr’) use kennings referring to both Grani and Gnitaheiðr in the same stanza; and cf. st. 5/5 and Note for another parallel. This kenning type is discussed in Meissner 228. — [7] dýrsveita Draupnis ‘Draupnir’s <mythical ring’s> precious sweat [GOLD]’: Draupnir ‘Dripper’ was the name of a gold ring owned by the god Óðinn, which had the property that every ninth night there dripped from it eight equally heavy gold rings (SnE 2005, 47); cf. drógar Draupnis ‘of the drawing of Draupnir’ OBarr Frag 1/1. — [8] dúni Grafvitnis ‘Grafvitnir’s <snake’s> feather-bed [GOLD]’: Grafvitnir ‘grave-wolf’ (AEW: grafa) is a snake-heiti; cf. SnE 1998, I, 90, Grí 34/5 and Þul Orma 2/1 (see Note there). A very similar kenning, beð Grafvitnis ‘Grafvitnir’s bed’, is in ESk Øxfl 6/4. According to a notion common in both Old English and Old Norse poetry, serpents and dragons were in the habit of lying on hoards of gold, often concealed in mounds (cf. Beowulf ll. 2231b-2310 and Beowulf 2008, 238-9), hence in a large group of gold-kennings gold could be termed the bed or lair of a snake; cf. Meissner 237-41. Fáfnir’s legendary gold (see l. 4 above) served as a paradigmatic example of this thought-pattern.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. 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.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. LaufE 1979 = Faulkes, Anthony, ed. 1979. Edda Magnúsar Ólafssonar (Laufás Edda). RSÁM 13. Vol. I of Two Versions of Snorra Edda from the 17th Century. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar, 1977-9.
  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. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  7. Guðrún Nordal. 2001. Tools of Literacy: The Role of Skaldic Verse in Icelandic Textual Culture of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press.
  8. Beowulf 2008 = Fulk, Robert D., Robert E. Bjork and John D. Niles, eds. 2008. Klaeber’s Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg. 4th rev. edn of Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg, ed. Fr. Klaeber. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press.
  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. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  12. Olrik, Axel. 1903-10. Danmarks heltedigtning: En oldtidsstudie. 2 vols. I: Rolf Krake og den ældre Skjoldungrække. II: Starkad den Gamle og den yngre Skjoldungrække. Copenhagen: Gad.
  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. Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Biography of) Einarr Skúlason’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 140.
  16. (forthcoming), ‘ Snorri Sturluson, Skáldskaparmál’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=112> (accessed 22 September 2021)
  17. (forthcoming), ‘ Unattributed, Háttatal’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=165> (accessed 22 September 2021)
  18. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Bjarkamál in fornu’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 495. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1006> (accessed 22 September 2021)
  19. Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Øxarflokkr’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 140. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1149> (accessed 22 September 2021)
  20. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Orma heiti 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 929.
  21. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Øxarflokkr 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. 146.
  22. Not published: do not cite ()
  23. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 8’ 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. 226.
  24. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ormr Barreyjarskáld, Fragments 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 320.
  25. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 39’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1148.
  26. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 41’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1150.
  27. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 94’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1203.
  28. Vivian Busch (ed.) 2017, ‘Þorvaldr blǫnduskáld, Sigurðardrápa 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 488.
  29. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 10’ 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. 823.
  30. Not published: do not cite ()
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