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skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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SnH Lv 7II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sneglu-Halli, Lausavísur 7’ 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. 328-9.

Sneglu-HalliLausavísur
678

Ortak eina        of jarl þulu;
verðrat drápa        með Dǫnum verri;
fǫll eru fjórtán        ok fǫng tíu;
opits ok ǫndvert,        ǫfugt stígandi:
svá skal yrkja,        sás illa kann!

Ortak eina þulu of jarl; verðrat drápa verri með Dǫnum; eru fjórtán fǫll ok tíu fǫng; opits ok ǫndvert, ǫfugt stígandi: svá skal yrkja, sás kann illa!

I composed a þula about an earl; a drápa cannot be worse among the Danes; there are fourteen dips and ten lifts; it is open-ended and twisted, moving backwards: that’s how he shall compose who is poorly skilled!

Mss: Flat(208rb) (Flat)

Editions: Skj AI, 389-90, Skj BI, 359, Skald I, 180, NN §§1934, 2473, 3396M; ÍF 9, 292-3 (Snegl ch. 9), Flat 1860-8, III, 426 (Snegl).

Context: When Halli returns from England, King Haraldr asks him whether he has composed poetry about other kings while away. Halli replies with the following st.

Notes: [All]: The metre is fornyrðislag. For a discussion of the metrical terminology in this st., see Gade 1991. — [2] jarl ‘an earl’: The identity of the recipient of Halli’s poem is unclear, but it could have been Harold Godwineson, then earl of Wessex and later king of England. According to Snegl, Halli composed a poem in honour of the king of England (ÍF 9, 290-1). Flat (1860-8, III, 425) gives his name as Harold Godwineson (Haraldr Guðinason), and H supplies Edward (Játvarðr) (Fms 6, 375). Edward the Confessor (r. 1043-65) was king of England at the time when Halli visited England, but he seems an unlikely recipient for Halli’s praise. Edward had been raised in Normandy and would hardly have been able to understand an ON poem recited by an Icel. skald. Moreover, the poem explicitly states that Halli’s poem honoured an earl. For the ON language in Anglo-Saxon England, see Townend 2002. — [2] þulu: A list of poetic synonyms. Halli uses it to refer to a nonsensical poem, and it must have been considered an insult to compose a deficient poem in praise of a ruler. — [4] með Dǫnum ‘among the Danes’: This sheds an interesting light on Halli’s opinion of the poetic skills of the Danes in the C11th. The sense is that not even Dan. poets could compose a worse poem. We know little about poetic compositions by Danes in the C11th (all skalds who eulogised Dan. rulers and noblemen were Icelanders), and most of the earlier surviving poetry attributed to Danes is characterised by metrical irregularities (see Kuhn 1983, 268-9).

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. Gade, Kari Ellen. 1991. ‘Fang and Fall: Two Skaldic termini technici’. JEGP 90, 361-74.
  6. 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.
  7. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1983. Das Dróttkvætt. Heidelberg: Winter.
  8. ÍF 9 = Eyfirðinga sǫgur. Ed. Jónas Kristjánsson. 1956.
  9. Townend, Matthew. 2002. Language and History in Viking Age England: Linguistic Relations between Speakers of Old Norse and Old English. Studies in the Early Middle Ages 6. Turnhout: Brepols.
  10. Internal references
  11. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ 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. clxi-clxii.
  12. Not published: do not cite (SneglII)
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