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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ǪlvH Lv 1VIII (HjǪ 17)

Richard L. Harris (ed.) 2017, ‘Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis 17 (Ǫlvir Herrauðsson, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 509.

Ǫlvir HerrauðssonLausavísa1

Hvat skal ek kalla þetta,         hvar þarftu mér bregða,
konungr, um kvensemi,         kátr, um miðnætti?
En hverja hýsnoppu,         sem þú at heiðum finnr,
viltu, at þér í sinni         sé* allar ….

Hvat skal ek kalla þetta, hvar þarftu mér bregða, kátr konungr, um kvensemi um miðnætti? En hverja hýsnoppu, sem þú finnr at heiðum, viltu at allar … sé* þér í sinni?

What shall I say to this, why do you need to rouse me, merry king, about desire for women at midnight? And every downy-snouted [girl] that you find on the heaths, do you want all … to be in your company?

Mss: 109a IIIˣ(270v), papp6ˣ(51r), ÍBR5ˣ(91) (HjǪ)

Readings: [2] hvar: hvat papp6ˣ    [6] sem þú at heiðum finnr: sem á heiðum finnr papp6ˣ    [7] at: om. papp6ˣ    [8] sé*: ‘sæir’ 109a IIIˣ, ‘sien’ papp6ˣ, ‘sieu’ ÍBR5ˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 336, Skj BII, 357, Skald II, 193, NN §3296B; HjǪ 1720, 38, FSN 3, 483, FSGJ 4, 208, HjǪ 1970, 32, 89, 147-8.

Context: Ǫlvir responds to Hjálmþér’s jocular suggestion that he take an amorous interest in the sea-ogresses with this stanza. 

Notes: [All]: The mss show some uncertainty about where this stanza begins and ends. The scribe of ÍBR5ˣ, who usually boldens the stanzas to distinguish them from the prose text, has not written l. 1 in bold and inserts ok kvað vísu ‘and spoke a stanza’ between the end of l. 1 and the beginning of l. 2, indicating that he considered the stanza to begin with l. 2. Both 109a IIIˣ and ÍBR5ˣ have an additional line at the end of the stanza (see Note to l. 8 below), though this is lacking in papp6ˣ, which ends with the word allar. — [2] hvar ‘why’: Lit. ‘where’ in the sense of ‘in any case’ (cf. Fritzner: hvar 6). Both Skj B and Skald adopt papp6ˣ’s reading hvat in the sense ‘why’. — [3] kvensemi ‘desire for women’: Often used in a Christian homiletic context with some disapprobation. The only other poetic usage is in GunnL Merl I 76/5 (Bret 144).  — [5-8]: The syntax of the second helmingr is rather loose, and more than one interpretation is possible. Line 6 follows the readings of 109a IIIˣ and ÍBR5ˣ, but most eds have adopted papp6ˣ’s sem á heiðum finnr. Skj B understands ll. 7-8 as a statement de vil du alle skal følge dig ‘you want them all to follow you’ but Kock (NN §3296B) suggests that these lines are intended as a question, and this is the understanding presented here. — [5] hýsnoppu ‘downy-snouted [girl]’: This cpd noun, lit. ‘down-snout’ is a hap. leg., though its components are recorded elsewhere as simplices (cf. ONP: , snoppa). LP: hýsnoppa explains the cpd as referring to a woman with down on her lip, implying masculinisation, but the insult goes further, because snoppa ‘snout’ often refers to the snouts of animals. The cpd snoppulangr ‘long-snout’ occurs as a man’s nickname (cf. ONP: snoppulangr). — [8] sé* allar …: The line is defective and both Skj B and Skald add þær ‘they’ (f. nom. pl.) to complete it, though this does not appear in any ms. Papp ends with the word allar, but the other mss add some additional unmetrical text; 109a IIIˣ has munu mér nú of fáar þykkja ‘they will now seem to me too few (?)’, while ÍBR5ˣ has munu mér mjǫk fár þykkja ‘they will seem to me very few’.


  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. FSN = Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. 1829-30. Fornaldar sögur nordrlanda. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  8. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  9. HjǪ 1720 = Peringskiöld, Johann, ed. 1720. Hialmters och Olvers saga, Handlande om trenne Konungar i Manahem eller Sverige, Inge, Hialmter, och Inge, samt Olver Jarl och om theras uthresor til Grekeland och Arabien. Stockholm: Horn.
  10. HjǪ 1970 = Harris, Richard L., ed. 1970. ‘Hjálmþérs saga: A Scientific Edition’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Iowa.
  11. Internal references
  12. Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 144 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 76)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 112.

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