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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Krm 19VIII

Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Krákumál 19’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 755.

Anonymous PoemsKrákumál

Hjuggu vér með hjörvi.
Háðum sverðs at morni
leik fyr Lindiseyri
við lofðunga þrenna.
Fár átti því fagna
— fell margr í gin vargi —
— haukr sleit hold með úlfi —
at heill þaðan kæmi.
Íra blóð í ægi
ærit fell um skæru.

Hjuggu vér með hjörvi. Háðum {leik sverðs} at morni við þrenna lofðunga fyr Lindiseyri. Fár átti fagna því, at kæmi heill þaðan; margr fell í gin vargi; haukr sleit hold með úlfi. Ærit blóð Íra fell í ægi um skæru.

We hewed with the sword. We engaged in {the game of the sword} [BATTLE] in the morning with three chieftains off Lindiseyrr. Hardly anyone could rejoice that he came back from there unharmed; many a man fell into the wolf’s gaping mouth; the hawk, along with the wolf, tore flesh. Abundant blood of the Irish flowed into the sea during the battle.

Mss: 1824b(80v), 147(108v), 6ˣ(90r) (Ragn); R702ˣ(31r), LR(217-218), R693ˣ(14r)

Readings: [1] Hjuggu vér með hjörvi: abbrev. as ‘Hiug ver m h᷎.’ 1824b, abbrev. as ‘[…] v(’) m(’) h(’)’(?) 147, Hjuggum vér með hjörvi 6ˣ, LR, R693ˣ, abbrev. as ‘H v m h.’ R702ˣ    [2] sverðs: so R702ˣ, LR, R693ˣ, suðr 1824b, ‘sud(ur)’(?) 147, ‘sudur’ with ‘suerds’ in margin 6ˣ;    morni: ‘(morni)’(?) 147, ‘morni’ with ‘mordi W.’ in margin 6ˣ, ‘mordi’ R702ˣ, LR, R693ˣ    [3] leik: ‘l[…]ik’ 147;    fyr: ‘[…]’ 147, á R702ˣ, LR, R693ˣ;    Lindiseyri: ‘[…]di(s) eyri’(?) 147    [4] við: ‘[…]’ 147;    lofðunga: ‘[…]fd(unga) […]’(?) 147, ‘lofdinnga’ R693ˣ;    þrenna: so 6ˣ, R702ˣ, LR, R693ˣ, om. 1824b, 147    [5] Fár: ‘f(a)r’(?) 147;    átti: náði R702ˣ, LR, R693ˣ;    því fagna: ‘[…] fagna’ 147    [6] fell: ‘fi(é)ll’ with ‘fiell’ in margin R693ˣ;    margr: ‘(marg)[…]’(?) 147;    í gin vargi: so R702ˣ, LR, R693ˣ, í gin úlfi 1824b, ‘[…] gin […]’ 147, ‘i gin vlfe’ with ‘varge W’ in margin 6ˣ    [7] haukr: ‘h(a)ukr’(?) 147;    sleit: ‘(s)l(e)it’(?) 147;    hold: ‘[…]olld’ 147;    úlfi: so R702ˣ, LR, R693ˣ, vargi 1824b, ‘(vargi)’(?) 147, ‘varge’ with ‘vlfe W.’ in margin 6ˣ    [8] kæmi (‘kęmi’): ‘[…]æmi’ 147, kvæmist R702ˣ, LR, R693ˣ    [9] Íra blóð: ‘ira […]d’ 147;    í ægi: ‘[…]g[…]’ 147, ‘i ęgin’ 6ˣ    [10] ærit fell: ‘[…]’ 147;    um: of 6ˣ;    skæru: so 6ˣ, ‘[...]ke[...]v’ 1824b, ‘(sk)[...]’(?) 147, ‘skieru’ R702ˣ, ‘skiru’ LR, ‘Skiæru’ R693ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 646, Skj BI, 653, Skald I, 319; Rafn 1826, 16-17, 134-5, Pfeiffer 1860, 126, CPB II, 343, Wisén1886-9, I, 64-5, Krm 1891, 227, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 89, Finnur Jónsson 1905, 155; Ragn 1906-8, 188.

Notes: [All]: In 147, R702ˣ, LR, R693ˣ and the present stanza and st. 20 appear in reverse order. — [2] sverðs ‘of the sword’: The present ed. follows the example of Finnur Jónsson (1893b; 1905; Skj B) and Kock (Skald) in adopting this reading here in preference to the reading suðr ‘southwards, in the south’, adopted in all eds prior to Finnur (1893b). Sverðs provides the determinant required to form the battle-kenning leik sverðs ‘the game of the sword [BATTLE]’. — [3] fyr Lindiseyri ‘off Lindiseyrr’: Lindis- in this p. n. is reminiscent of two major English place-names, and the final element is dat. sg. of eyrr ‘a bank or spit of sand or gravel running into a river or sea’. The wording of the stanza makes it difficult to identify a specific location for Lindiseyrr, except that the spilling of Irish blood in l. 9 is presumably located there. (a) One possibility is Lindsey in North Lincolnshire, cf. Langenfelt (1920, 84 n. 1). The final element in the name Lindsey appears to derive from OE ēg (cf. ON ey) ‘island’, either directly or as a reformation (Watts 2004, 374; early spellings have variable endings but begin with Lindis-, Lindes-). This could have been replaced in a Norse form of the name by ‑eyrr. However, the reference to Irish blood in l. 9 of the present stanza makes an English location unlikely. (b) Rafn (1826, 135, following Johnstone 1782, 81) mentions Lindisfarne (now Holy Island), a tidal island off the coast of Northumberland, as a possible location. The name has traditionally been taken to mean ‘island of the travellers to and from Lindsey’, though other interpretations are possible (see Coates 2000; Watts 2004, 374; early spellings include Lindisfarnae 699-705, in a copy c. 900). The monastery was founded by Irish monks c. 635. (c) With the Irishmen of l. 9 in mind, Johnstone (1782, 81, 108) and Rafn (1826, 135) suggest the Irish province of Leinster as a possible location for Lindiseyrr, but the Irish name for it, the Old Irish ethnonym Laigin, ModIr. Laighin, seems too remote from Lindiseyrr in spelling and pronunciation to have formed the basis of the latter name. — [4] þrenna lofðunga ‘three chieftains’: These chieftains cannot be identified.  — [5] fár ‘hardly anyone’: Lit. ‘few’ (sg.). — [6]: This line shows some verbal similarities to ESk Geisl 29/7, 8VII, where the sentence vargar ginðu of hræ ‘wolves gaped over carrion’ occurs, cf. de Vries (1964-7, II, 40 n. 68). — [6, 7] vargi; úlfi ‘wolf; wolf’: The ms. readings seem to allow for these two words to be positioned either in the order given here or in reverse order; all previous eds up to and including Finnur Jónsson (1893b) have úlfi in l. 6 and vargi in l. 7. The ordering followed here and in subsequent previous eds is marginally preferable insofar as it imparts aðalhending to l. 6. — [8]: All mss have at hann heill þaðan kæmi, but the extrametrical hann has been deleted here, as in most eds (e.g. Skj B and Skald). — [9-10] ærit blóð ‘abundant blood’: So all eds. A conceivable alternative would be to take ærit as adverbial, modifying fell ‘fell’ in l. 10. — [10] um skæru ‘during the battle’: This is interpreted as um skæro (normalised um skæru) ‘at dawn’ (CPB). In poetry up to 1250, if not later, the rhyme skæru : ærit (earlier œrit) would have been half rhyme (skothending) rather than the full rhyme (aðalhending) that would be expected in an even-numbered line. Full rhyme is provided by skæru ‘battle’ (earlier skœru), though it may be noted that l. 9, where skothending might be expected, shows no example of either skothending or aðalhending. Cf. the remarks in the Introduction on the use of hendingar in Krm.


  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. 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.
  5. Vries, Jan de. 1964-7. Altnordische Literaturgeschichte. 2 vols. 2nd edn. Grundriss der germanischen Philologie 15-16. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  6. Finnur Jónsson. 1893b. Carmina Norrœna: Rettet Tekst. Copenhagen: Nielsen & Lydiche.
  7. Pfeiffer, Friedrich. 1860. Altnordisches Lesebuch. Leipzig: T. O. Weigel.
  8. Ragn 1906-8 = Olsen 1906-8, 111-222.
  9. Finnur Jónsson. 1905. ‘Krákumál’. Oversigt over det Kgl. Danske videnskabernes selskabs forhandlinger 1905, 151-83.
  10. Krm 1891 = 2nd edn (pp. 225-8) of Krm as ed. in Valdimar Ásmundarson 1885-9, I.
  11. Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. 1826. Krakas Maal eller Kvad om Kong Ragnar Lodbroks Krigsbedrifter og Heltedød efter en gammel Skindbog og flere hidtil ubenyttede Haandskrifter med dansk, latinsk og fransk oversættelse, forskjellige Læsemaader, samt kritiske og philologiske Anmærkninger. Copenhagen: Jens Hostrup Schultz; London: John and Arthur Arch.
  12. Langenfelt, Gösta. 1920. Toponymics or Derivations from Local Names in English: Studies in Word-formation and Contributions to English Lexicography. Inaugural Dissertation. Uppsala: Appleberg.
  13. Johnstone, James, ed. and trans. 1782. Lodbrokar-Quida; Or the death-song of Lodbroc; now first correctly printed from various manuscripts; with a free English translation. To which are added, the various readings; a literal Latin version; an Islando-Latino glossary; and explanatory notes. Copenhagen: [n. p.].
  14. Coates, Richard and Andrew Breeze, eds. 2000. Celtic Voices, English Places. Stamford: Tyas.
  15. Watts, Victor, ed. 2004. The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-names. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  16. LR = Worm 1936.
  17. Internal references
  18. Rory McTurk 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Krákumál’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 706.
  19. Martin Chase 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr Skúlason, Geisli’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 5-65.

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