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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (Ragn) 6VIII (Ragn 36)

Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 36 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar 6)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 695.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar

Samira okkr at öldrum
of öndvegi þræta,
hvar okkar hefir unnit
hváðarr framar öðrum.
Þú stótt, þar er bar bára
branda hjört at sundi,
en ek sat, þar er rá reiddi
rauðan stafn til hafnar.

Samira okkr þræta of öndvegi at öldrum, hvar hváðarr okkar hefir unnit framar öðrum. Þú stótt, þar er bára bar {hjört branda} at sundi, en ek sat, þar er rá reiddi rauðan stafn til hafnar.

It is not fitting for the two of us to wrangle, in our seats at a drinking session, over where each of us has achieved more than the other. You stood where a wave bore {the stag of prow-sides} [SHIP] to the sound, and I sat where the sail-yard brought the red prow into harbour.

Mss: 1824b(76v) (Ragn)

Readings: [6] at: ‘at at’ 1824b    [7] þar: þér 1824b;    reiddi: ‘rreiðe’ 1824b

Editions: Skj AII, 240-1, Skj BII, 260, Skald II, 135; FSN 1, 297-8 (Ragn ch. 20), Ragn 1891, 222 (ch. 20), Ragn 1906-8, 173, 219-20 (ch. 19), Ragn 1944, 128-9 (ch. 21), FSGJ 1, 283-4 (Ragn ch. 19), Ragn 1985, 151-2 (ch. 19), Ragn 2003, 67 (ch. 19), CPB II, 352.

Context: In a more conciliatory spirit, the first speaker tells the second that it ill befits the two of them to quarrel, since they both have experience of seafaring.

Notes: [2] of öndvegi ‘in our seats’: The reading of, retained by the eds of Skald, CPB, Ragn 1891 and Ragn 1985, read as af ‘from’ (?) by Rafn (FSN) and emended to í ‘in’ by all other eds, means strictly ‘over, above’ in a physical sense, with locational meaning if followed by the dat. (giving here the meaning ‘(each) on (his) seat’, ‘each in his place’, with öndvegi understood as dat. sg.) or directional if followed by the acc. (giving here the meaning ‘across the seat(s), from one seat to another’, with öndvegi understood as acc. sg. or pl.). The prose text indicates that both speakers are sitting on the same side of the table as their hosts: the first to arrive is directed to the higher or northern bench (á enn ędra bekk), where he takes up the space of two men, and the second is directed to sit further in (innar) on that same bench, where he evidently takes up the space of three men, since five men have to make way for the two of them together (cf. Ragn 1906-8, 170-1); and it is in the centre of the northern bench that the high seat, occupied by the host, was traditionally located (CVC: önd-vegi and önd-ugi). The prose is however inconsistent in its account of where on the bench the speakers are seated in relation to one another. The second speaker (of sts 33, 35, 37), is first said to have been placed innar ‘further in’, i.e. nearer the host than the first speaker (Ragn 1906-8, 171), but is described later as sitting útar ‘further out’ (Ragn 1906-8, 172). This inconsistency has implications for the translation of st. 37/8, below.  — [3] hvar ‘where’: This interpretation is the most straightforward, requiring no emendation. To read ms. ‘hvar’ as hvárr produces a natural phrase hvárr okkar ‘both of us, each of us two’, which is adopted (with spelling variants) by CPB, Rafn (FSN) and Örnólfur Thorsson (Ragn 1985). However, it involves virtual duplication of hváðarr ‘which of two’ in l. 4. Other eds emend here to hvat ‘what’, n. acc. sg. of the interrog. pron. hverr ‘who, which’, making it the object of hefir unnit ‘has achieved’ in l. 3. — [4] hváðarr okkar ‘each of us two’: Finnur Jónsson (1901, 82) notes, in addition to the present instance, two instances in skaldic poetry of hvaðarr, the original uncontracted form of hvárr ‘each of two’, from the C10th: Glúmr Gráf 12/8I and Korm 76/2V. He describes the present instance as a lærd efterligning ‘learned imitation’ of the earlier form (cf. Olsen, Ragn 1906-08, 220). In each of the two C10th instances the initial syllable of hvaðar(r) constitutes the second stressed element in the line and is thus not subject to resolution (see Poole 2005e, 271; Russom 2002, 314). In the present instance, as Finnur indicates in LP: hvaðarr, it is necessary to assume a long first syllable in order to ensure a metrical line of six syllables. — [6] hjört branda ‘the stag of prow-sides [SHIP]’: Brandar (nom. pl.) must refer to specific parts of a ship in this kenning, rather than standing pars pro toto for the whole ship, although Jesch (2001a, 147-8) finds no evidence of such specific usage in the earlier skaldic corpus (cf. Note to 35/5, above). Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 220) takes brandr here as synonymous with svíri (Fritzner: svíri 2), understanding it as referring to one of the two posts at a ship’s fore-stem that were used to fasten it either to the mooring rope or to the anchor cable and could be seen as resembling a stag’s antlers. Falk (1912, 43-5; cf. Jesch 2001a, 147-9), on the other hand, sees it as referring to a triangular piece of wood on each side of the ship’s stems (see also Shetelig and Falk 1937, 358-9). — [6] at sundi ‘to the sound’: Or perhaps simply ‘on the sea’. The prep. at can have directional as well as locational meaning (Barnes 2008, 186); the former seems marginally preferable here, given the more specifically directional sense of ll. 7-8. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) takes it however in the latter sense, no doubt seeing at sundi as equivalent to á sundi ‘on the water, afloat, at sea’ (LP: sund). Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 220) emends to at sandi ‘to shore’, lit. ‘to sand’, influenced by the strikingly similar HHund I 48/1-4, but although this provides aðalhending in l. 6, emendation is not necessary. — [7] þar er rá reiddi ‘where the sail-yard brought’: Alone among previous eds, Rafn (FSN), reads þer (sic) and reiði here. All subsequent eds adopt the emended readings þar and reiddi (3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of reiða ‘swing, carry’), suggesting the idea of the sail-yard, the spar slung from the mast and used for suspending the sail, bringing the (prow of a) ship from the open sea by way of a sound into harbour. — [8] rauðan stafn ‘the red prow’: See the Note to 35/8, above.


  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. 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.
  6. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  7. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  8. 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.
  9. Falk, Hjalmar. 1912. Altnordisches Seewesen. Wörter und Sachen 4. Heidelberg: Winter.
  10. Finnur Jónsson. 1901. Det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog omtr. 800-1300. SUGNL 28. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  12. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  13. Shetelig, Haakon and Hjalmar Falk. 1937. Scandinavian Archaeology. Trans. E. V. Gordon. Oxford: Clarendon.
  14. Ragn 1906-8 = Olsen 1906-8, 111-222.
  15. Barnes, Michael. 2008. A New Introduction to Old Norse. Part I: Grammar. 3rd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  16. Ragn 1944 = Eskeland, Severin, ed. and trans. 1944. Soga om Ragnar Lodbrok med Kråka-kvædet. Norrøne bokverk 16. 2nd ed. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget. [1st ed. 1914].
  17. Poole, Russell. 2005e. ‘Metre and Metrics’. In McTurk 2005, 265-84.
  18. Russom, Geoffrey. 2002. ‘A Bard’s Eye View of the Germanic Syllable’. JEGP 101, 305-28.
  19. Ragn 1985 = Örnólfur Thorsson 1985, 101-53.
  20. Ragn 1891 = 2nd edn (pp. 175-224) of Ragn as ed. in Valdimar Ásmundarson 1885-9, I.
  21. Ragn 2003 = Ebel, Uwe, ed. 2003. Ragnars saga loðbrókar. Texte des skandinavischen Mittelalters 4. Vol. II of Ebel 1997-2003.
  22. Internal references
  23. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Ragnars saga loðbrókar’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 616. <> (accessed 25 September 2021)
  24. Not published: do not cite ()
  25. Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Glúmr Geirason, Gráfeldardrápa 12’ 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. 262.
  26. Not published: do not cite (KormǪ Lv 55V (Korm 76))
  27. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 19 (Sigurðr ormr í auga, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 663.

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