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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 32II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 32’ 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, pp. 608-9.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

Nú hafa gœðingar gengit
— goðfjón es þat ljóna —
— upp grafask ill rôð greppa —
œrit mǫrg á sœri.
Þat mun þeygi sjatna
þeim, es svik viðr heima;
stígum létt á lágan
legg, meðan upp held skeggi.

Gœðingar hafa nú gengit á œrit mǫrg sœri; þat es goðfjón ljóna; ill rôð greppa grafask upp. Þat mun þeygi sjatna þeim, es viðr svik heima; stígum létt á lágan legg meðan held upp skeggi.

The [Orcadian] lords have now gone back on sufficiently many promises; that shows men’s contempt for God; evil plans of men are dug up. Things will not subside for the one who brings about treachery at home; we [I] step lightly on a low leg while I hold up my beard.

Mss: 325I(13v), Flat(141ra), R702ˣ(51r) (Orkn)

Readings: [2] ljóna: ljónum R702ˣ    [7] létt: lítt Flat, R702ˣ    [8] held: heldr Flat, held ek R702ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 512, Skj BI, 486-7, Skald I, 238; Flat 1860-8, II, 489, Orkn 1887, 180, Orkn 1913-16, 261, ÍF 34, 238 (ch. 89), Bibire 1988, 238.

Context: In Norway, Rǫgnvaldr hears of great turbulence and political polarisation in Orkney.

Notes: [1] gœðingar ‘the [Orcadian] lords’: Although also used in other contexts, this term is particularly associated with the noblemen of Orkney and Shetland. — [2] þat es goðfjón ljóna ‘that shows men’s contempt for God’: Previous eds adopt the variant ljónum from R702ˣ, but the collocation fjón ... ljóna is also found in Þmáhl Máv 15/6V. The point is not that God shows antipathy to such actions (cf. Bibire 1988 ‘hateful to God is it for men’), but rather that such actions show contempt for God. LP: goðfjón gives two meanings, guders had (mod en) ‘the hatred of the gods (towards one)’ and had til gud, ringeagt for gud ‘hatred of God, contempt for God’. For the latter construction, compare Fritzner: guðhræzla ‘fear of God’. Admittedly, it is not clear, either in the st. or in the saga prose, why Rǫgnvaldr might think these actions show contempt for God, though Sigv Lv 13-14I envisage punishment in hell for treachery. See also Notes to Þflekk Lv l. 12 and ESk Eystdr 2/3. — [7-8] stígum létt á lágan legg ‘we [I] step lightly on a low leg’: Close parallels to this expression are hard to find, but it seems to mean ‘tread warily’. — [8] meðan held upp skeggi ‘while I hold up my beard’: Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34) suggests that this means ‘as long as my head is above ground’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  6. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  7. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Bibire, Paul. 1988. ‘The Poetry of Earl Rǫgnvaldr’s Court’. In Crawford 1988, 208-40.
  9. Orkn 1887 = Gudbrand Vigfusson 1887-94, I.
  10. Internal references
  11. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þorgeirr flekkr, Lausavísa’ 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, pp. 9-10.
  12. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Eysteinsdrápa 2’ 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, pp. 560-1.
  13. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 13’ 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. 715.
  14. Not published: do not cite (Þmáhl Máv 15V (Eb 17))

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