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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Lv 25I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 25’ 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. 730.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonLausavísur

Enn lystir mik (austan
erut of spǫrð ór Gǫrðum)
frá ǫðlingi ungum
(opt byrjuð lof) spyrja.
Fréttik smás, þótt smæstir
smoglir ástar foglar
(þinig ljúgumk fǫr) fljúgi
(fylkis niðs) á miðli.

Enn lystir mik spyrja frá ungum ǫðlingi; lof opt byrjuð austan ór Gǫrðum erut of spǫrð. Fréttik smás, þótt smæstir, smoglir foglar ástar fljúgi á miðli; ljúgumk fǫr þinig {niðs fylkis}.

Still it pleases me to ask about the young prince; the praises often conveyed from the east out of Russia are not too sparing. I enquire about little, though the smallest, smuggling birds of affection fly between; I am cheated of the journey hither {of the leader’s offspring} [RULER = Magnús].

Mss: (500r), 39(13va), F(38ra), J2ˣ(242v), E(4v) (Hkr); 761bˣ(311r-v)

Readings: [1] Enn: ey J2ˣ, E, 761bˣ    [2] of (‘um’): af J2ˣ, E, 761bˣ;    spǫrð: svǫrð F    [5] smás: spans J2ˣ, 761bˣ;    smæstir: ‘smættir’ J2ˣ, 761bˣ    [6] smoglir: ‘smugul er’ Kˣ, F, ‘smogul er’ 39, ‘smagulir’ J2ˣ, ‘smabuler’ E, ‘sma gulir’ 761bˣ    [7] þinig: so J2ˣ, E, 761bˣ, þing Kˣ, 39, F;    ljúgumk: ‘hægiomz’ F;    fǫr: ‘for’ 39, F    [8] fylkis niðs: ‘fyl kisliðs’ 39, fylkis liðs F

Editions: Skj AI, 273, Skj BI, 252-3, Skald I, 130, NN §§1876, 2205D (cf. 2225); Hkr 1777-1826, III, 13, VI, 126, Hkr 1868, 522 (MGóð ch. 9), Hkr 1893-1901, III, 20, IV, 184-5, ÍF 28, 18, Hkr 1991, II, 567 (MGóð ch. 8), F 1871, 173, E 1916, 13; Konráð Gíslason 1892, 41, 191, 232, Jón Skaptason 1983, 209, 326-7.

Context: Sigvatr travels to Sweden and stays with Queen Ástríðr (who had gone there with King Óláfr when he first lost control of Norway, and had remained there after his return). Whenever he meets merchants coming from Hólmgarðr (Novgorod), he asks what they can tell him about Óláfr’s son Magnús. He says this.

Notes: [1-4]: There are alternative ways to analyse the syntax of this helmingr. (a) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; so Hkr 1991) would have frá ǫðlingi ungum ‘about the young prince’ in l. 3 modify lof ‘praises’ in l. 4 and austan … ór Gǫrðum ‘from the east out of Russia’ in ll. 1, 2 modify spyrja ‘to ask’ in l. 4. (b) Kock (NN §1876; so ÍF 28 and Jón Skaptason 1983, 209) would have both of these phrases modify spyrja ‘ask’ on the ground that lof frá einhverjum ‘praise about someone’ seems unidiomatic to him. — [4] opt ‘often’: All eds, including the present one, assume that this depends on byrjuð ‘conveyed’ (or ‘originating’), and this does give simpler word order, though opt could also modify spyrja. — [5] fréttik smás ‘I enquire about little’: It is debatable whether the import of this is ‘I ask for very little information’ (so Finnur Jónsson in Skj B) or ‘I enquire about small things’ (so Jón Skaptason 1983). (Note that the clause cannot mean ‘I hear very little’, as we should then expect smátt for smás.) Finnur Jónsson (LH II, 596) takes the sense to be ‘I am informed of the king’s movements, though only small birds of affection fly back and forth between us’. — [6] smoglir ‘smuggling’: The adj. is based on the verb smjúga ‘to creep through’ or ‘to penetrate’, and the sense seems to be that messages are furtively conveyed. (ÍF 28 suggests thoughts as an alternative to messages.) No ms. actually reads smoglir, but it is what a conflation of the ms. readings suggests. — [7, 8] ljúgumk fǫr þinig niðs fylkis ‘I am cheated of the journey hither of the leader’s offspring [RULER = Magnús]’: This is how the eds generally have understood the clause, the sense being, presumably, ‘I wish Magnús would come west’. It is particularly clever how this intercalary breaks up foglar … fljúgi … á miðli ‘birds fly between’ (in reference to exchanged messages).


  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. LH = Finnur Jónsson. 1920-4. Den oldnorske og oldislandske litteraturs historie. 3 vols. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Gad.
  6. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  7. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  9. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  10. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  11. Jón Skaptason. 1983. ‘Material for an Edition and Translation of the Poems of Sigvat Þórðarson, skáld’. Ph.D. thesis. State University of New York at Stony Brook. DAI 44: 3681A.
  12. Konráð Gíslason, ed. 1892. Udvalg af oldnordiske skjaldekvad, med anmærkninger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  13. Hkr 1777-1826 = Schöning, Gerhard et al., eds. 1777-1826. Heimskringla edr Noregs konunga-sögor. 6 vols. Copenhagen: Stein.
  14. Hkr 1868 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1868. Heimskringla eller Norges kongesagaer af Snorre Sturlassøn. Christiania (Oslo): Brøgger & Christie.
  15. Internal references
  16. Not published: do not cite (MGóðII)

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