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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Marm Lv 3VIII (Hálf 8)

Hubert Seelow (ed.) 2017, ‘Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka 8 (Marmennill, Lausavísur 3)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 311.


Sögu kann ek segja         sonum Háleygja
vilgi góða,         ef þér vilið heyra.
Hér ferr sunnan         Svarðar dóttir,
um drifin dreyra,         frá Danmörku.

Ek kann segja sonum Háleygja vilgi góða sögu, ef þér vilið heyra. Hér ferr dóttir Svarðar, um drifin dreyra, sunnan frá Danmörku.

I can tell the sons of the Háleygir a story [which is] by no means good, if you want to hear it. Here Svǫrðr’s daughter, drenched with blood, moves from the south from Denmark.

Mss: 2845(34r) (Hálf)

Editions: Skj AII, 257, Skj BII, 277, Skald II, 145; Hálf 1864, 10, Hálf 1909, 84, FSGJ 2, 102, Hálf 1981, 113-14, 174; Edd. Min. 91.

Context: The merman now speaks four prophetic stanzas with no intervening prose warning that the Danish king Hreiðarr is preparing to take vengeance for the death of his daughter Hringja, and that he will mount an attack on Hjǫrleifr’s hall, from which Hjǫrleifr will escape and kill Hreiðarr’s son Heri with a spear. The stanza is preceded by the words: En er þeir reru þangat með hann, sem þeir höfðu hann upp dregit, þá kvað hann … ‘And as they rowed with him to the spot, where they had hauled him up, he said …’.

Notes: [2] sonum Háleygja ‘the sons of the Háleygir’: The pl. referent is used here, though the merman is in fact directing his remarks to Hjǫrleifr alone. Andrews (Hálf 1909, 84) comments on the fact that here Hjǫrleifr is linked with Háleygjaland (Hålogaland, a district in northern Norway), as is his son Hálfr in Hálf 56/6. — [6] dóttir Svarðar ‘Svǫrðr’s daughter’: The pers. n. Svǫrðr is otherwise unknown, but is likely to be the determinant of a kenning for a valkyrie or other female figure of war. Skj B substitutes Hǫgna ‘of Hǫgni’, thus producing a kenning for the valkyrie Hildr, whose name as a common noun also means ‘battle’. This emendation, though unjustified by the ms. and non-alliterating, fits with the merman’s apparent personification of Danish aggression moving from the south in the form of a warlike valkyrie or shield-maiden in Hálf 9/1-4 and again in Hálf 10/1-4. Andrews (Hálf 1909, 15-6, 84) attempts to show that an otherwise unknown pers. n. Svǫrðr might be a shortened, syncopated form of Sigvarðr/Sigurðr.


  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. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  5. Edd. Min. = Heusler, Andreas and Wilhelm Ranisch, eds. 1903. Eddica Minora: Dichtungen eddischer Art aus den Fornaldarsögur und anderen Prosawerken. Dortmund: Ruhfus. Rpt. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
  6. Hálf 1981 = Seelow, Hubert, ed. 1981. Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka. RSÁM 20. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar.
  7. Hálf 1864 = Bugge, Sophus, ed. 1864. Saga af Hálfi ok Hálfsrekkum. Norrøne Skrifter af sagnhistorisk Indhold 1. Christiania (Oslo): Det Nordiske Oldskriftselskab.
  8. Hálf 1909 = Andrews, A. Le Roy, ed. 1909. Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka. ASB 14. Halle: Niemeyer.
  9. Internal references
  10. Hubert Seelow (ed.) 2017, ‘Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka 56 (Hrókr inn svarti, Hrókskviða 6)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 349.
  11. Hubert Seelow (ed.) 2017, ‘Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka 9 (Marmennill, Lausavísur 4)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 312.
  12. Hubert Seelow (ed.) 2017, ‘Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka 10 (Marmennill, Lausavísur 5)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 313.

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