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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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HSt Rst 25I

Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 25’ 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. 927.


Tvær senn — tiggja vinnur
telk þær —, es veitk færi
gnýlinns Gǫndlar runna,
gramr íþróttir framði.
Hyr-Baldr hvítra skjalda
handsǫxum lék vandla
fleinrjóðr flestra dáða
frár ok gekk at ôrum.

Gramr framði tvær íþróttir senn, es veitk {færi {{Gǫndlar gný}linns} runna}; telk þær vinnur tiggja. {{Hvítra skjalda hyr-}Baldr}, {fleinrjóðr}, frár flestra dáða, lék vandla handsǫxum ok gekk at ôrum.

The prince performed two feats at the same time, which I know {few trees {of the snake {of the din of Gǫndul <valkyrie>}}} [(lit. ‘trees of the din-snake of Gǫndul’) BATTLE > SWORD > WARRIORS] [have performed]; I tell of those achievements of the ruler. {The Baldr <god> {of the fire of white shields}} [(lit. ‘fire-Baldr of white shields’) SWORD > WARRIOR = Óláfr], {the spear-reddener} [WARRIOR], swift in most deeds, juggled skilfully with short-swords and walked across the oars.

Mss: Bb(112rb); 61(64ra), 53(61rb), 54(58va), Bb(94rb), Flat(62ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] es (‘er’): om. 61;    veitk (‘ek veit’): rétt 53, veit 54, Bb(94rb);    færi: so 61, 53, 54, Flat, smæri Bb(112rb), farri Bb(94rb)    [3] gnýlinns: gunnelds all others;    Gǫndlar: geymir 61, geymi 53, 54, Bb(94rb), Flat;    runna: unna 61, ‑runnar 53    [5] Hyr‑: hnig‑ all others;    hvítra: hvíta 54    [7] flestra dáða: so all others, flestar dáðir Bb(112rb)    [8] at: á all others

Editions: Skj AI, 549-50, Skj BI, 531, Skald I, 258, NN §§1182, 1853I, 2247B; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 228-9 (ch. 236), Flat 1860-8, I, 464; SHI 3, 260-1, CPB II, 299, Wisén 1886-9, I, 49, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 268-9.

Context: Óláfr, when his men were rowing along the coast, would sometimes walk on the oars overboard while juggling with short-swords.

Notes: [All]: Óláfr’s exceptional dexterity is also the subject of Anon Ól 1.  — [2] færi ‘few’: Lit. ‘fewer’. This, the ÓT reading, gives good sense, and qualifies the kenning for ‘warriors’ in l. 3. This kenning is the object of veit ‘know’, forming the part of an elliptical acc. with inf. construction which is completed by understanding inf. fremja ‘to perform’ or hafa framit ‘have performed’ from framði ‘performed’ in l. 4 (so also Skj B). The Bb reading smæri ‘smaller’ would qualify the warrior-kenning, referring to lesser men, but it is not normally used metaphorically and leaves the clause incomplete. — [3]: Line 3 in ÓT forms an alternative warrior-kenning which is also feasible: geymirunna gunnelds ‘guarding trees of the battle-fire [SWORD > WARRIORS]’. — [5] hyr-Baldr ‘the Baldr <god> of the fire (lit. ‘fire-Baldr’)’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) adopts the reading hyr from Bb(112rb), departing from the ÓT version normally preferred in his edn. The ÓT reading is hnig-Baldr ‘sinking Baldr of white shields [WARRIOR]’, where the prefixed hnig- is odd in juxtaposition with a conventional shield-kenning. It could perhaps mean that the warrior lowers his shield as a sign of courage, but it seems more likely that hnig- is an error encouraged by hnig- in st. 24/3. — [7] flestra dáða ‘in most deeds’: This, the ÓT reading, provides a gen. pl. governed by frár ‘swift (in)’; the Bb(112rb) reading, nom./acc. pl. flestar dáðir, does not fit the syntax. — [8] at ‘across’: The alternative á ‘on’ in ÓT has approximately the same meaning. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) again prefers the reading from Bb(112rb) here.


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  6. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1886-9. Carmina Norrœnæ: Ex reliquiis vetustioris norrœnæ poësis selecta, recognita, commentariis et glossario instructa. 2 vols. Lund: Ohlsson.
  7. Finnur Jónsson. 1893b. Carmina Norrœna: Rettet Tekst. Copenhagen: Nielsen & Lydiche.
  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. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  10. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  11. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  12. Internal references
  13. 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.
  14. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Poem about Óláfr Tryggvason 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. 1063.

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