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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Haustl 14III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Haustlǫng 14’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 453.

Þjóðólfr ór HviniHaustlǫng

Eðr of sér, es jǫtna
ótti lét of sóttan
hellis b*ǫr, á hyrjar,
haugs Grjótúna, baugi.
Ók at ísarnleiki
Jarðar sunr, en dunði
— móðr svall Meila blóða —
mána vegr und hônum.

Eðr of sér á baugi hyrjar, es {ótti jǫtna} lét of sóttan {b*ǫr hellis {haugs Grjótúna}}. {Sunr Jarðar} ók at {ísarnleiki}, en {vegr mána} dunði und hônum; móðr {blóða Meila} svall.

Furthermore one can see on the shield-ring of fire, where {the terror of giants} [= Þórr] made a visit to {the tree of the cave {of the mound of Grjótún}} [= Grjótúnagarðar > GIANT = Hrungnir]. {The son of Jǫrð <goddess>} [= Þórr] drove to {the iron-play} [BATTLE], and {the path of the moon} [SKY/HEAVEN] resounded beneath him; the anger {of the brother of Meili} [= Þórr] swelled.

Mss: R(23v), R(26r) (ll. 5-8), Tˣ(24v), Tˣ(26v) (ll. 5-8), W(51), W(56) (ll. 5-8), U(29r) (ll. 5-8), B(5r) (ll. 5-8) (SnE)

Readings: [1] es (‘er’): of W(51)    [2] sóttan: so Tˣ(24v), W(51), sóttum R(23v)    [3] b*ǫr: ‘biꜹr’ R(23v), ‘maur’ Tˣ(24v), ‘borv’ W(51);    á hyrjar: ‘[…]yriar’ W(51)    [4] haugs: so W(51), haug R(23v), Tˣ(24v)    [5] ísarn‑: ‘jsiarns’ B    [6] Jarðar: so R(26r), Tˣ(24v), W(51), W(56), U, B, ‘iarðr’ R(23v), ‘ardar’ Tˣ(26v);    sunr: son B;    en: ok R(26r), enn Tˣ(24v), Tˣ(26v), hinn B;    dunði: dulði U, djarfi B    [7] móðr: so Tˣ(26v), W(51), W(56), U, B, móður R(23v), R(26r), ‘miodr’ Tˣ(24v);    blóða: so R(26r), Tˣ(26v), W(56), bróður R(23v), Tˣ(24v), W(51), blóði U, B

Editions: Skj AI, 19, Skj BI, 17, Skald I, 11, NN §§139, 1018 Anm. 2, 1529 Anm., 2722, 2985D; SnE 1848-87, I, 278-9, 316-17, II, 314, 526, III, 21, SnE 1931, 104, 114, SnE 1998, I, 22-3, 34.

Context: Haustl sts 14-20 are cited as a sequence in Skm (in mss R, and W) after the prose narration of the myth of the giant Hrungnir, in which the giant first makes a nuisance of himself in Ásgarðr and then, after Þórr has challenged him to a duel, engages with the god in a single combat, where Þórr has Þjálfi as his second, and Hrungnir has a clay giant by the name of Mǫkkurkálfi (SnE 1998, I, 20-2). The sequence of stanzas is introduced with the statement: Eptir þessi sǫgu hefir ort Þjóðólfr hvinverski í Haustlǫng. Svá segir þar … ‘Þjóðólfr from Hvinir has composed [a poem] based on this story in Haustlǫng. It says there …’. Lines 5-8 of st. 14 are also cited again a little later in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 34) in mss R, , W, U and B to exemplify kennings for ‘sky’, in this case vegr mána ‘the path of the moon’ (l. 8).

Notes: [1, 3, 4] eðr of sér á baugi hyrjar ‘furthermore one can see on the shield-ring of fire’: An appropriate introduction to a new section of the drápa, announcing a fresh subject that can be seen on the shield Þjóðólfr has received from Þorleifr. There has been some debate among scholars about the syntactical positioning of hyrjar (l. 3). This edn follows Åkerblom (1899a, 270), Kock (NN §139) and Marold (1983, 169) in construing hyrjar, gen. sg. of hyrr ‘fire, burning’, with á baugi ‘on the shield-ring’, possibly a reference to the decorated shield’s bright, glowing colours, rather than interpreting it as part of the kenning for Hrungnir in ll. 3-4 (see Note below). — [3, 4] b*ǫr hellis haugs Grjótúna ‘the tree of the cave of the mound of Grjótún [Grjótúnagarðar > GIANT = Hrungir]’: This edn follows Wisén (1886-9, II, 116), Åkerblom (1899a, 269-71) and Marold (1983, 168-9) in adopting W’s haugs (l. 4) over R, ’s haug and tentatively accepting Kock’s emendation bǫr for the various ms. forms of the second word in l. 3. This gives a formally unusual kenning for Hrungnir, in which bǫr hellis ‘the tree of the cave’ refers to a ‘giant’ in general while haugs Grjótúna ‘of the mound of Grjótún’ identifies Hrungnir by referring to his dwelling at Grjótún ‘Stones’-dwellings’ courts’ in the prose of Skm and said there to be ‘in the border-land’ (at landamæri). Haugs ‘of the mound’ appears to be structurally redundant, but ON haugr often refers to a burial mound, and giants are conventionally supposed to sit or dwell on them; cf. Þry 6/1, Skí 11/2. The identity and sense of the base-word given here as bǫr ‘tree’ is uncertain, and the word is likely to be corrupt in all mss. None of the ms. readings make sense without emendation, and no fully acceptable emendation has yet been proposed. The base-word is likely to be a term for ‘animal’, ‘(demonic) dweller’ or ‘inhabitant’ [of a cave], to judge by skaldic kenning-types for giants; Kock (NN §139) proposed bǫr(r) ‘tree’, which certainly appears as a base-word in man-kennings (cf. LP: bǫrr), but is not found elsewhere as the base-word of a giant-kenning. This emendation is followed by Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 22, 170, II, 255), who, however, takes bǫrr as the base-word of a man-kenning, bǫrr hyrjar hellis ‘tree of the fire of the cave [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’, which he presumes to be a vocative address to the patron, Þorleifr. As he remarks (SnE 1998, I, 170), one of the problems with this proposed kenning is that there is no precedent for the gold-kenning type ‘fire of the cave’. Kock (NN §1018 Anm. 2) later proposed emending the base-word to bǫrg(r) ‘(castrated) boar’, but this is purely conjectural. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) does not attempt an interpretation of ‘hellis baur hyrjar’ (l. 3) and adopts R, ’s haug with Grjótúna to specify ‘the mound of Grjótún’ (l. 4) as the place Þórr visited. In this reading there is no kenning for Hrungnir in the stanza. — [5] at ísarnleiki ‘to the iron-play [BATTLE]’: A conventional battle-kenning, but perhaps used ironically here, as Hrungnir’s weapons were all made of stone. — [7] blóða Meila ‘the brother of Meili [= Þórr]’: Blóði is a poetical word for ‘brother’, meaning someone who is a blood-relative. It is to be preferred here over some mss’ bróður, as the lectio difficilior and as providing aðalhending with móðr, although in an odd, not an even line. Meili is the name of another son of Óðinn; see Note to st. 4/2 fet-Meila.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. 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.
  7. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1886-9. Carmina Norrœnæ: Ex reliquiis vetustioris norrœnæ poësis selecta, recognita, commentariis et glossario instructa. 2 vols. Lund: Ohlsson.
  8. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  9. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  10. Marold, Edith. 1983. Kenningkunst: Ein Beitrag zu einer Poetik der Skaldendichtung. Quellen und Forschungen zur Sprach- und Kulturgeschichte der germanischen Völker, new ser. 80. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  11. Åkerblom, Axel. 1899a. ‘Bidrag til tolkningen af skaldekvad’. ANF 15, 269-73.
  12. Internal references
  13. (forthcoming), ‘ Snorri Sturluson, Skáldskaparmál’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <> (accessed 27 September 2021)
  14. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘ Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Haustlǫng’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 431. <> (accessed 27 September 2021)
  15. Not published: do not cite ()
  16. Not published: do not cite ()

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