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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ǫlvǫr Lv 1VIII (Ǫrv 4)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 4 (Ǫlvǫr, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 813.

ǪlvǫrLausavísa1

This stanza, in the háttlausa ‘formless’ variant of dróttkvætt, occurs in the mss of Ǫrv as the first of a pair, with the second stanza recorded both immediately after it and also as ǪrvOdd (Ævdr) 41 (Ǫrv 111) (q. v.). According to the saga Oddr and his companions are harrying in Ireland. During the course of these adventures, in which Oddr’s foster-brother Ásmundr is killed (cf. ǪrvOdd Ævdr 38 (Ǫrv 108)), Oddr meets a beautiful woman, Ǫlvǫr, who offers to make him a magic silken shirt with life-protecting properties, which would be ready for him a year after their first encounter. She offers this to stop him attacking members of her family, who have killed Ásmundr. Oddr returns to Ireland the following summer to receive the shirt and invites her to marry him as a reward.

Serk um frák ór silki
í sex stöðum görvan;
ermr á Íralandi
önnur norðr með Finnum.
Slógu Saxa meyjar,
en suðreyskar spunnu;
váfu valskar drósir;
varp Óþjóðans móðir.

Um frák serk ór silki görvan í sex stöðum; ermr á Íralandi, önnur norðr með Finnum. Saxa meyjar slógu, en suðreyskar spunnu; valskar drósir váfu; móðir Óþjóðans varp.

I have heard of a silken shirt made in six places; a sleeve in Ireland, another north among the Saami. Maidens of the Saxons struck [the weft], and Hebrideans spun; southern women wove; Óþjóðann’s mother cast [the warp].

Mss: 7(50v), 344a(14r), 567IV(2vb), 343a(66r), 471(71v), 173ˣ(31r) (Ǫrv)

Readings: [1] Serk: serkinn 343a, 471, 173ˣ;    um (‘of’): om. 344a, 567IV, 343a, 471, 173ˣ;    frák (‘frá ek’): hefi ek hér 344a;    ór: í 343a, 173ˣ;    silki: silki corrected from silfri 344a, silfri 567IV, 471, sogni 343a, 173ˣ    [2] í: ok í 344a, 343a, 471, ok 173ˣ;    sex: so 344a, vij 7, 567IV, 343a, 471, 173ˣ;    stöðum: lutum 173ˣ    [3] ermr: so 344a, 567IV, ermr var 7, 343a, 471, 173ˣ;    Íra‑: Ír‑ 471    [7] drósir: brúðir 343a, 471    [8] varp: en varp 173ˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 290, Skj BII, 311, Skald II, 165; Ǫrv 1888, 81, Ǫrv 1892, 42-3, FSGJ 2, 242-3.

Context: Oddr asks Ǫlvǫr whether she made the magic shirt all by herself, and this lausavísa is her response.

Notes: [All]: Uniquely in Ǫrv, this stanza is in the metre háttlausa ‘formless’ (cf. SnSt Ht 67III), a variant of dróttkvætt lacking internal rhyme. For this reason, some eds (Ǫrv 1892, 39 n. 15 and 42 n. 23) have doubted whether it originally belonged in Ǫrv. — [1] um frák ‘I have heard’: All mss have the verb frák, except for 344a, whose hefik hér is metrically less good and a lectio facilior. Ms. 7’s archaic pleonastic particle of has been normalised to the later um here in accordance with this volume’s policy of normalising to the period 1250-1300; see further Note to Ásm 1/3, 5. A similar normalisation from of to um occurs at Ǫrv 6/6 and 138/8. — [2] sex ‘six’: Although only one ms. (344a) has this reading, it is assured both by metre and by the subject-matter of the stanza, which names six, not seven, places where the magic shirt was made. — [3-4] ermr á Íralandi, önnur norðr með Finnum ‘a sleeve in Ireland, another north among the Saami’: Locations suggestive of magic, and in the former case, with the weaving of magical garments; cf. in particular Anon Darr 1-11V (Nj 53-63) and Orkn ch. 55 (ÍF 34, 117-19); see also Ǫrv 1892, 39 n. 15; Bek-Pedersen 2007). The reference to Hebridean women in l. 6 reinforces this theme. — [5] slógu ‘struck [the weft]’: Probably a reference to the act of beating the weft-threads of the warp-weighted loom with a weaving baton or skeið, shaped like a sword, in order to keep the weft straight. Cf. Hoffmann (1964) and Poole (1991, 116-56, especially 132-6). CPB II, 355 suggests the meaning is ‘they beat the flax’ (though the shirt is said to be made of silk). — [8] varp ‘cast [the warp]’: Lit. ‘threw’. Here the reference is probably to the action of casting the weft, the threads that cross from side to side of a web on the warp-weighted loom, at right angles to the warp threads with which they are interwoven. Cf. a similar use of the verb verpa in the context of weaving in Anon Darr 1/1, 2/1V(Nj 53, 54). — [8] móðir Óþjóðans ‘Óþjóðann’s mother’: The name Óþjóðann is unknown. The name would mean lit. ‘Un-king’.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  4. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  5. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  6. Poole, Russell. 1991. Viking Poems on War and Peace: A Study in Skaldic Narrative. Toronto Medieval Texts and Translations 8. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press.
  7. Ǫrv 1888 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1888. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Leiden: Brill.
  8. Bek-Pedersen, Karen. 2007. ‘Are the Spinning nornir Just a Yarn?’. Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 3, 1-10.
  9. Hoffmann, Marta. 1964. The Warp-weighted Loom. Studies in the History and Technology of an Ancient Implement. Studia norvegica 14. Oslo and Bergen: Universitets forlaget.
  10. Ǫrv 1892 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1892a. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Altnordische Saga-Bibliothek 2. Halle: Niemayer.
  11. Internal references
  12. Not published: do not cite (Anon Darr 1V (Nj 53))
  13. 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Ǫrvar-Odds saga’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 804.
  14. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Orkneyinga saga (Orkn)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  15. Not published: do not cite (Anon DarrV (Nj))
  16. Not published: do not cite (ǪrvOdd ÆvdrVIII (Ǫrv))
  17. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 67’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1179.
  18. Peter Jorgensen (ed.) 2017, ‘Ásmundar saga kappabana 1 (Hildibrandr, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 16.
  19. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 108 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 38)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 917.
  20. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 111 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 41)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 919.
  21. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 6 (Hjálmarr inn hugumstóri, Lausavísur 2)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 818.
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