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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Liðs 3I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Liðsmannaflokkr 3’ 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. 1019.

Anonymous PoemsLiðsmannaflokkr

Þollr mun glaums of grímu
gjarn síðarla arna
randar skóð at rjóða
rœðinn, sás mey fœðir.
Berr eigi sá sveigir
sára lauks í ári
reiðr til Rínar glóða
rǫnd upp á Englandi.

{Rœðinn þollr glaums}, sás fœðir mey, mun gjarn síðarla arna at rjóða {skóð randar} of grímu. {Sá sveigir {lauks sára}} berr eigi rǫnd, reiðr, upp á Englandi í ári til {glóða Rínar}.

{The talkative pine-tree of revelry} [MAN] who brings up the maiden will gladly [lit. glad] rush tardily to redden {the harm of the shield} [SWORD] in darkness. {That brandisher {of the leek of wounds}} [SWORD > WARRIOR] does not carry the shield, enraged, up into England in a hurry, for {the embers of the Rhine} [GOLD].

Mss: Flat(186vb) (Flat); DG8(73r) (ÓHLeg)

Readings: [2] arna: ríða DG8    [4] rœðinn: roðinn DG8    [6] í: á Flat, DG8

Editions: Skj AI, 221, Skj BI, 211, Skald I, 110, NN §596; Flat 1860-8, III, 238, ÓH 1941, II, 684; ÓHLeg 1922, 11, ÓHLeg 1982, 48-9.

Context: As for st. 1.

Notes: [All]: The stanza appears to express contempt for the guardian of Steinvǫr (on whom, see Note to st. 9/7) as a heimdragi ‘stay-at-home’. It does so by ironic litotes: he is not only slow into battle, but is not present at all.  — [1] þollr glaums ‘the pine-tree of revelry [MAN]’: Several interpretations are possible, depending on how other nouns in the helmingr are construed. (a) This is tentatively taken as an irregular, derogatory kenning that evokes pleasures of the hall instead of military activities, characterising the stay-at-home who is the target of the stanza. The remaining analyses produce standard warrior-kennings. (b) Kock (Skald and NN §596) also construes these two words as a kenning, but takes glaumr ‘revelry’ to be a heiti for ‘battle’. (c) A more regular kenning is obtained if randar ‘of the shield’ (l. 3) is read as part of the determinant, hence þollr glaums randar ‘pine-tree of the revelry of the shield [BATTLE > WARRIOR]’ (so Skj B; ÓHLeg 1982). This leaves skóð ‘harm(s)’ (l. 3) as a heiti for a weapon, which is unproblematic in itself (LP: skóð) but entails a contorted word order (as pointed out in NN §596). (d) Another potential determinant is obtained if of grímu (l. 1) is read as the expletive particle of plus f. gen. sg. grímu in the sense ‘mask, helmet’; but in context a prepositional use of of seems more likely, hence of grímu ‘in darkness’. This is compatible with the surprise attack depicted in st. 1. — [2] gjarn : arna: The verb is normally árna (‘rush’) but for the variant with short vowel, see ANG §127.1. — [5-8]: The gallantry of the speaker and his comrades is contrasted with the inaction of the guardian. Such contrasts are characteristic of skaldic poetry (Perkins 1969, 96 n. 7). This helmingr is repeated in part in st. 9/5-8: rýðr eigi sá sveigir | sára lauk i ári ... gunnborðs ‘that brandisher of the battle-plank [SHIELD > WARRIOR] does not redden the leek of wounds [SWORD] in a hurry’. Finnur Jónsson in Skj regarded sts 3/5-8 and 9/5-8 as textual variants and considered st. 9/7-8 the more original version of the second couplet. But the partial repetition can better be explained as representing an informal refrain. The first occurrence stands near the opening of the flokkr and the other near its close, loosely corresponding to the placement of the first and last enunciations of the stef ‘refrain’ in the formal drápa. — [7] glóða Rínar ‘the embers of the Rhine [GOLD]’: The coward misses out on expeditionary plunder, here stereotypically represented as gold, though in fact the chief means of enrichment for Scandinavian warriors in the English campaigns took the form of the silver pennies paid as ‘Danegeld’.


  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. 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.
  6. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. ÓHLeg 1982 = Heinrichs, Anne et al., eds and trans. 1982. Olafs saga hins helga: Die ‘Legendarische Saga’ über Olaf den Heiligen (Hs. Delagard. saml. nr. 8II). Heidelberg: Winter.
  10. ÓHLeg 1922 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert, ed. 1922. Olafs saga hins helga efter pergamenthåndskrift i Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, Delagardieske samling nr. 8II. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 47. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  11. Perkins, Richard. 1969. ‘A Medieval Icelandic Rowing Chant’. MS 2, 92-101.

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