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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Knútdr 7I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Knútsdrápa 7’ 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. 658.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonKnútsdrápa

Knútr vas und himnum.
Hann austan frá,
fríðr fylkis niðr
fráneygr Dana.
Skreið vestan viðr
varrglæstr, sás bar
út andskota
Aðalráðs þaðan.

Knútr vas und himnum … Hann frá austan, {fríðr, fráneygr niðr {fylkis Dana}}. Varrglæstr viðr, sás bar {andskota Aðalráðs} út þaðan, skreið vestan.

Knútr was under the heavens … He learned [news] from the east, {the handsome, bright-eyed descendant {of the ruler of the Danes}} [= Sveinn > = Knútr]. The sea-splendid ship which carried {the enemy of Æthelred} [= Knútr] out from there glided from the west.

Mss: (407r), 325XI 1(3va) (Hkr); Holm2(51r), J2ˣ(195v), 321ˣ(181-182), 73aˣ(158r), 68(49r), Holm4(45va), 61(111va), 325V(57va), Bb(180vb), Flat(114vb), Tóm(137v) (ÓH); FskBˣ(46r) (Fsk); DG8(92r) (ÓHLeg)

Readings: [1] Knútr: Hnútr Bb;    vas (‘var’): er J2ˣ, 73aˣ, Bb;    und: unn Tóm;    himnum: ‘him[…]’ 325XI 1    [2] Hann: ‘[…]’ 325XI 1, herr J2ˣ, 61, 325V, Bb, Flat, hinns FskBˣ, her DG8;    austan: ‘[…]an’ 325XI 1;    frá: so FskBˣ, DG8, fram Kˣ, 325XI 1, Holm2, 68, Holm4, ferr J2ˣ, 61, 325V, Bb, Flat, ‘franin’ 321ˣ, fann 73aˣ, gram Tóm    [3] fríðr: frið 325XI 1, Holm2, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 68, Holm4, 61, 325V, Bb, Flat, FskBˣ, DG8, fram J2ˣ, ‘fidur’ Tóm;    niðr: nið 325XI 1, 61, 325V, Bb, lið 321ˣ, 73aˣ, Flat, FskBˣ, DG8    [4] ‑eygr: ‘æyct’ DG8    [5] Skreið: ‘[…]’ 325XI 1, skeið 61, Tóm, skriðu FskBˣ, DG8;    vestan: austan 68, vestar DG8;    viðr: veðr 61, ‘ver’ FskBˣ, DG8    [6] varr‑: var all;    ‑glæstr: glæst 61, 325V, hvert FskBˣ, hvert or hverr DG8;    sás (‘sa er’): er FskBˣ, DG8    [7] út: unz 61, útan Bb, Flat    [8] Aðal‑: ‘[…]’ 325XI 1

Editions: Skj AI, 250, Skj BI, 233, Skald I, 121, NN §§649, 2516A; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 353, IV, 144-5, ÍF 27, 274 (ÓHHkr ch. 147); ÓH 1941, I, 428 (ch. 137), Flat 1860-8, II, 277; Fsk 1902-3, 161 (ch. 27), ÍF 29, 183 (ch. 32); ÓHLeg 1922, 59, ÓHLeg 1982, 140-1.

Context: In ÓH-Hkr, sts 7-8 are quoted as a pair following an account of the splendour of Knútr’s fleet. In Fsk and ÓHLeg, they are also paired, and are the first stanzas of Sigvatr’s poem to be quoted; they are adduced in corroboration of a brief account of the allied attack on Denmark by Óláfr and Ǫnundr, and Knútr’s response by bringing a great fleet from England.

Notes: [All]: ÓH-Hkr identify sts 7-8 as from Sigvatr’s Knútsdrápa, and Fsk and ÓHLeg refer to the erfidrápa ‘memorial drápa’ that Sigvatr composed about Knútr. — [1]: The line opens the klofastef ‘split refrain’; see Note to st. 3/1 above.  — [2] frá ‘learned [news]’: There is a variety of ms. readings, and of interpretational possibilities, for the helmingr. Skj B, ÍF 27 and ÍF 29 all read frá for the last word in l. 2, but assume different objects (or none) for the verb: (a) ÍF 27, following in taking hann as the first word, assumes that frá is intransitive (see also ÓHLeg 1982); this interpretation is followed here. (b) Skj B prefers Her austan frá (‘He learned of an army from the east’). (c) ÍF 29 (following FskBˣ with reservations) gives Hinns austan frá | frið (‘the one who learned of peace from the east’). (d) Kock (Skald; NN §2516A) prefers a different interpretation for the line, and consequently for the helmingr as a whole, reading eygr as eykr, hence Herr austan ferr; | frið fylkis niðr | fránn eykr Dana ‘An army travels from the east; the valiant descendant of the ruler increases the peace of the Danes’. — [5] viðr ‘the ship’: Lit. ‘wood’, but the word can also stand alone as a term for ‘ship’ (LP: viðr 5; Jesch 2001a, 134). It is not necessary to combine it with varr ‘sea’ to form a kenning, as Skj B does (see Note to l. 6). — [6] varrglæstr ‘sea-splendid’: The mss clearly indicate ‘var’, often writing <v> plus superscript tittle. (a) The first element alliterates and carries strong stress, and is taken in this edn, as in most others, as varr ‘sea’, which combines with glæstr to form a cpd adj. ‘sea-splendid’ qualifying viðr ‘ship’ (so also NN §649, Skald and ÍF 29). In Skj B it is taken with viðr to form, through tmesis, a kenning for ‘ship’. (b) ‘Var’ in the mss is taken as the 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. ‘was’ in ÍF 27, with the normalised spelling var. This produces the short clause var glæstr ‘it [the ship] was spendid’. However, var ‘was’ is less likely to carry strong stress, and the appropriate form for Sigvatr’s time is vas, which would leave the line without aðalhending.


  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. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  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. 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. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  13. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  14. 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.
  15. Internal references
  16. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Legendary Saga of S. Óláfr / Helgisaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar (ÓHLeg)’ 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. clxxiii.
  17. 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.
  18. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)

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