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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Jǫk Lv 1I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Jǫkull Bárðarson, Lausavísur 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. 813.

Jǫkull BárðarsonLausavísur

Hlautk frá Sult, en sæta
síð fregn, at ek kvíða,
— vôn erumk hreggs at hreini
hlýrvangs — skipi stýra,
þvís, ýstéttar, átti
Ôleifr, funa kleifar,
— gramr vas sjalfr á sumri
sigri ræntr — inn digri.

Hlautk stýra skipi frá Sult, en sæta fregn síð, at ek kvíða — erumk vôn hreggs at {hreini {hlýrvangs}} —, þvís Ôleifr inn digri átti, {kleifar {funa {ýstéttar}}}; gramr sjalfr vas ræntr sigri á sumri.

I drew the lot to steer the ship from Sylte, and the lady will hardly hear that I’m daunted — I have a prospect of a storm hitting {the reindeer {of the prow-plain}} [SEA > SHIP] —, the one [ship] that Óláfr inn digri (‘the Stout’) owned, {slopes {of the flame {of the yew-bow’s path}}} [ARM/HAND > GOLD > WOMEN]; the king himself was robbed of victory in summer.

Mss: (440r) (Hkr); Holm2(60r), 972ˣ(447va), J2ˣ(212r), 321ˣ(226), 73aˣ(183v-184r), 68(59r-v), 61(118rb), 325V(71vb), 325VII(33v), Bb(191rb), Flat(120ra), Tóm(148r) (ÓH); FskBˣ(50r), FskAˣ(186) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] Hlautk (‘Hlꜹt ec’): hlaut er FskBˣ;    frá: fyr 972ˣ, J2ˣ, Bb, ór 321ˣ, 73aˣ, FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    Sult: Slygs 321ˣ, FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    sæta: særa 321ˣ, sóta 61    [2] síð: ‘sidr’ 321ˣ;    fregn: spyrr J2ˣ;    ek kvíða: vér kvíðum 972ˣ, J2ˣ, vér kvíðim 73aˣ    [3] vôn: sár 325V;    erumk: ‘eraz’ 73aˣ, er um 61, FskAˣ, erum 325V, Bb, Tóm, FskBˣ, eru Flat;    hreggs: hress 321ˣ;    at: á 321ˣ, 73aˣ, FskBˣ;    hreini: hreinni Tóm, FskBˣ    [4] hlýr‑: hlýrs Holm2, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, hlý 325VII;    ‑vangs: því Holm2, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 321ˣ, visundi 73aˣ, ‑vágs 61, FskBˣ, ‑vægs FskAˣ;    skipi: at 73aˣ;    stýra: at stýra 325V    [5] þvís (‘þvi er’): er Holm2, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, því at Bb, FskAˣ;    ýstéttar: útstéttar 321ˣ, ‘ostrættis’ or ‘ostræitis’ 61, óstéttar 325V, FskAˣ, eystrætis 325VII, óstrætis Bb, Flat, Tóm    [6] Ôleifr: ‘aleift’ 321ˣ;    funa: vala 61, Haka 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm    [7] sjalfr: snjallr Holm2, 972ˣ, 321ˣ;    sumri: sunni 73aˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 314, Skj BI, 291, Skald I, 148, NN §§780, 1021, 1855; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 423, IV, 160, ÍF 27, 331, Hkr 1991, II, 494 (ÓHHkr ch. 182); Fms 5, 29, Fms 12, 97, ÓH 1941, I, 504 (ch. 178), Flat 1860-8, II, 317; Fsk 1902-3, 178 (ch. 28), ÍF 29, 197 (ch. 33).

Context: Hákon jarl Eiríksson brings a force to Valldalr (Valldal) and seizes ships belonging to Óláfr Haraldsson. His follower Jǫkull Bárðarson gets to command the king’s ship Skeggi ‘Man’ (?) (according to Fsk), or his flagship Visundr ‘Bison’ (according to ÓH-Hkr), and exults over this in his stanza.

Notes: [1] hlautk ‘I drew the lot’: The full sense of hljóta, ‘obtain by lot’ (hence ‘get, have to’), is emphasised by Fsk which depicts Hákon’s men literally casting lots. — [1] Sult ‘Sylte’: A river flowing into Tafjorden/Norddalsfjorden, Møre og Romsdal. The variant Slygs in Fsk and 321 denotes another river running into the same fjord (Finlay 2004, 157 n. 455). — [1] sæta ‘the lady’: An unidentified, and probably merely conventional, reference (cf. Frank 1990a).  — [2] síð ‘hardly’: Lit. ‘late’: It will be late, i.e. by litotes never, when the lady hears that the speaker is daunted. — [3] hreggs ‘of a storm’: The sense ‘conflict’ may be intended here (so Hkr 1991). Hregg is common as a base-word in battle-kennings (LP: hregg), and, perhaps in parallel with hríð ‘storm, phase in a battle, battle’, could have been understood metaphorically. If so, the stanza may anticipate the trouble that ensues in Lv 2 and its context. — [3] at ‘hitting’: At ‘towards, against’ refers to the threat of a storm hitting the ship. The variant á ‘on’ is also possible.  — [5, 6] kleifar funa ýstéttar ‘slopes of the flame of the yew-bow’s path [ARM/HAND > GOLD > WOMEN]’: (a) The kenning in itself makes good sense, ý- referring etymologically to a bow made of yew (ýr m.), whose path is the arm or hand on which it rests. Though unexplained in the prose sources, the apparent address to women is somewhat in harmony with l. 1’s reference to the speculation of a lady (sæta), and this reading is adopted also in ÍF 27, ÍF 29 and Hkr 1991. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) finds a woman-kenning here unlikely and, expecting a man-kenning for which either stéttar ‘path’ or kleifar ‘slopes’ would have to be the base-word, assumes corruption. He suggests (out of several possible emendations) reading eim(s)þreytir ‘fire-destroyer’ in place of ýstéttar ‘yew-path’. Eim- ‘fire’ (partially supported by ‘ey’ in 325VII) would form a gold-kenning with the variant kleifar Haka ‘the slope of Haki <sea-king> [SEA]’ in l. 6, on the well-known pattern ‘fire of the sea/water’ = ‘gold’. This is turn yields the kenning ‘destroyer of gold [GENEROUS MAN]’, which can then be taken in apposition to nom. sg. Ôleifr (Hkr 1893-1901, IV) or as a vocative (Skj B, seemingly). (c) Kock (NN §780) accepts the emendation to -þreytir, but retains ýs to give ‘bow’s destroyer [WARRIOR]’, specified as ‘sea-warrior’ by kleifar Haka. He claims seven examples of phrases meaning ‘sea-warrior’ including this one (NN §1021). — [6, 8] Ôleifr inn digri ‘Óláfr inn digri (“the Stout”)’: King Óláfr Haraldsson (r. c. 1015-30); see ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume.


  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. 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. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  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. 1990a. ‘Why Skalds Address Women’. In Pàroli 1990, 67-83.
  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. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  10. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  11. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  12. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  13. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  14. Finlay, Alison, trans. 2004. Fagrskinna: A Catalogue of the Kings of Norway. Leiden: Brill.
  15. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  16. Internal references
  17. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  18. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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. clxxvi-clxxix.
  19. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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. clix-clxi.
  20. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Jǫkull Bárðarson’ 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. 812.
  21. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)

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