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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Framarr Lv 1VIII (Ket 34)

Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 34 (Framarr víkingakonungr, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 587.

Framarr víkingakonungrLausavísur

Stanzas 34-41 (Framarr Lv 1-4, Keth Lv 20-3) are all spoken at the combat between Ketill and Framarr (Ket ch. 5, FSGJ 2, 177-81). The metre is fornyrðislag (or málaháttr) and the stanzas, especially Ket 34-5, are distinguished by a stark dramatic quality and by including several kennings.

On the first day of Yule Bǫðmóðr and his men accompany Ketill to the mound where Ketill is to engage in single combat with Framarr. Bǫðmóðr holds a shield to protect Ketill and tells his father Framarr that he no longer regards him as a relative, since Framarr practises magic. Immediately before the combat begins an eagle flies out of the forest and tears Framarr’s clothes off him.

Illr er örn í sinni;         emka sárr at kvíða;
færir hann sínar greipar         gular í blóðæðar mínar.
Hlakkar hreggskornir;         hvers er hann forkunnigr?
Opt hefi ek ara gladdan;         góðr em ek valgöglum.

Örn er illr í sinni; emka sárr at kvíða; hann færir gular greipar sínar í blóðæðar mínar. Hreggskornir hlakkar; hvers er hann forkunnigr? Ek hefi opt gladdan ara; ek em góðr {valgöglum}.

The eagle is evil in company; I am not wounded so that I am afraid; he thrusts his yellow claws into my blood vessels. The storm-cleaver <eagle> screams; about what is he prescient? I have often gladdened the eagle; I am good {to corpse-geese} [RAVENS/EAGLES].

Mss: 343a(57v), 471(56r) (Ket)

Readings: [1] sinni: ‘sinnu’ 343a, 471    [2] sárr: ‘so’ 471    [3] sínar: om. 471;    greipar: so 471, greipr 343a    [5] ‑skornir (‘skornner’): so 471, skorinn or skorir 343a    [6] forkunnigr (‘‑kvnnigur’): fjölkunniga 471    [8] góðr em ek valgöglum: áðr ek valgögl vann 471

Editions: Skj AII, 285-6, Skj BII, 307, Skald II, 162, NN §§1480, 2395, 3196FSN 2, 136, FSGJ 2, 178, Anderson 1990, 58, 106, 442; Edd. Min. 83.

Context: This stanza is introduced by the words: Þá kvað Framarr vísu ‘Then Framarr spoke a stanza’.

Notes: [All]: The stanza is dramatic and menacing. The drastic description of the eagle’s behaviour has parallels in skaldic poetry (see Jesch 2002b, 252, 254-5, 264-5). Lines 3-6 suggest that the eagle is tearing at Framarr as if he were already a corpse on the battlefield because he knows that Framarr will be killed by Ketill. — [1]: Mss 343a and 471 have the reading sinnu. Mss 1006ˣ, 173ˣ and 109a IIˣ all have the reading sinni; the phrase í sinni ‘on the way, in company’ is well-attested in poetry (LP: 3. sinni). The half-line evokes and contrasts with the statement in Reg 20/4-6 that the presence of a raven (another bird of prey associated with battle-fields) is a good omen for a warrior. — [3] færir ‘thrusts’: Because this verb (fœra ‘set in motion, bring, hit, ram’) does not bear alliteration on <g>, Skj B and Skald emend to grefr ‘digs, bores, sinks [his claws]’ (cf. LP: grafa 2). — [3] greipar ‘claws’: Here, as with Skj B and Skald, 471’s reading has been preferred to the alternative acc. pl. greipr (so 343a) of greip ‘hand, claw’. The disyllabic form produces a line in which there is an unstressed syllable between the two alliterating words (greipar, gular). — [4] í blóðæðar mínar ‘into my blood vessels’: Ms. 471 has the reading blóðæðar, i.e. the acc. pl. of the cpd blóðæðr, which is only attested here in Old Norse. In 343a the two words are written apart: blóð æðar. Compounds are often written this way in mss. However, it is also possible that the words æðar minar are regarded as a phrase in the f. gen. sg. in this ms; minar (with a short <i>) is attested as a form for the f. gen. sg. instead of minnar (cf. ANG §467 Anm. 2). Skj B and Skald delete the word blóð ‘blood’ in order to produce a regular metrical line: í æðar mínar ‘into my veins’. Edd. Min. deletes the pers. pron. mínar: í blóðæðar ‘into blood vessels’. Ms. 173ˣ and several other mss have the reading í sára flæði ‘into the flood of  wounds’; sára flæðr is a blood-kenning of a conventional type (Meissner 204-7). The long-line færir hann sínar greipar | gular í sára flæði could be regarded as having chiastic alliteration on <f> and <g>. — [5] hreggskornir ‘the storm-cleaver <eagle>’: With the exception of 471 the mss which include ll. 5-8 (343a, 340ˣ) have a reading that can be interpreted as hreggskorinn ‘cut by storms’ (skorinn = p. p. of the verb skera ‘cut’). Ms. 471 has hreggskornir, a cpd which appears twice in other texts (Anon (SnE) 11/1III and Þul Ara 1/4III) as an eagle-heiti (LP: hreggskornir) and which can be translated as ‘storm-cleaver’, i.e. ‘one who cuts through storms’ (cf. Meissner 123; Ebenbauer 1973, 207; Finnur Jónsson 1919, 304). Both designations probably refer to the mode of life of an eagle, who flies high in the sky and soars, taking advantage of the wind currents. The verb hlakka is used of the cry or scream of an eagle in Vsp 50/6 and of birds of prey in other texts (LP: hlakka). — [6] hvers er hann forkunnigr ‘about what is he prescient’: The variant reading of this line in 471 (fjölkunniga ‘skilled in magic’) expresses a similar thought (the form of the predicate adj. ‑kunniga is however not congruent to the pron. hann (m. sg. nom.). There has been some difference of opinion among previous eds as to 343a’s reading of the second element of the cpd -kunnigrEdd. Min. 83 n. has this reading (with which the present edn agrees), but Skj A reads the comp. adj. ‑kunnigra, which Skj B emends to ‑kunnigr. — [7-8]: These two lines are conventional circumlocutions for ‘I have done battle’ and refer to the corpses of warriors killed by the victor in battle and upon which birds of prey (eagles and ravens) feed (Jesch 2001a, 248; Jesch 2002b, 254-6). — [8] ek em góðr valgöglum ‘I am good to corpse-geese [RAVENS/EAGLES]’: In 471 l. 8 reads: áðr ek valgögl vann. Kock (Skald) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) combine this reading in differing ways with the line in 343a: áðr vark góðr valgöglum (‘earlier I was good to corpse-geese’ Skj B); áðr vann ek valgöglum (‘earlier I provided for corpse-geese ...’, Skald; NN §2395). Edd. Min. and FSGJ prefer the reading of 340ˣ: óðr em ek valgöglum ‘I am zealous for the corpse-geese’. In all cases the emendation is motivated by the desire to bring the alliteration more into line with the ‘rules’, i.e. ara should alliterate rather than gladda, since ara is a noun (cf. von See 1967, 20). However since the reading in 343a is satisfactory from the point of view of grammar and content there is no reason to emend it. The only other poetic example of the cpd valgagl ‘corpse-goose’ (Tindr Hákdr 3/4I) is an emendation.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. FSN = Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. 1829-30. Fornaldar sögur nordrlanda. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  8. 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.
  9. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  10. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  11. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  12. 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.
  13. See, Klaus von. 1967. Germanische Verskunst. Sammlung Metzler 67. Stuttgart: Metzler.
  14. Anderson, Sarah M. 1990. ‘The Textual Transmission of Two Fornaldarsögur: Ketils saga høings and Gríms saga loðinkinna’. Ph.D. thesis. Cornell University…
  15. Ebenbauer, Alfred. 1973. ‘Altisländisch -ir und -nir’. BGDSL(T) 95, 170-218.
  16. Finnur Jónsson. 1919. ‘Maskuline substantiver på -nir’. ANF 35, 302-8.
  17. Jesch, Judith. 2002b. ‘Eagles, Ravens and Wolves: Beasts of Battle, Symbols of Victory and Death’. In Jesch 2002a, 251-80.
  18. Internal references
  19. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Ketils saga hœngs’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 548. <> (accessed 16 September 2021)
  20. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Ara heiti 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 950.
  21. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from Snorra Edda 11’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 522.
  22. Not published: do not cite ()
  23. Not published: do not cite ()
  24. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Tindr Hallkelsson, Hákonardrápa 3’ 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. 343.
  25. Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 34 (Framarr víkingakonungr, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 587.
  26. Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 36 (Ketill hœngr, Lausavísur 20)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 590.

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