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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Óldr 21I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Óláfs drápa Tryggvasonar 21’ 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. 1052.

Anonymous PoemsÓláfs drápa Tryggvasonar

Gladdr sté jarl á eyddan
— él vigra þraut — sigri
grimmr með gengi framligt
Grábak móins *akri.
Lét ófôum ýtis
elds lauðar hal dauðum
vitr af Vánar otrum
verðung á k*af slungit.

Jarl, gladdr sigri, grimmr {*akri móins}, sté á eyddan Grábak með framligt gengi; {él vigra} þraut. Vitr verðung {ýtis {elds lauðar}} lét ófôum dauðum hal slungit af {otrum Vánar} á k*af.

The jarl [Eiríkr], gladdened by victory, cruel {to the field of the viper} [GOLD], stepped aboard the cleared Grábak (‘Grey-back’) with a fine company; {the blizzard of spears} [BATTLE] ceased. The wise troop {of the impeller {of the fire of the draw-plate}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] had not a few dead men slung off {the otters of Ván <river>} [SHIPS] into the deep.

Mss: Bb(113ra)

Readings: [3] grimmr: ‘grimr’ Bb    [4] *akri: ‘vakra’ Bb    [5] ófôum: ‘ofaín’ Bb;    ýtis: ýtir Bb    [8] k*af: ‘kviaf’ or ‘kriaf’ Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 577, Skj BI, 572, Skald I, 277; Munch and Unger 1847, 122-3, 141, Gullberg 1875, 17-18, 37-8.

Notes: [3] grimmr ‘cruel’: The ms. seems to have Grímr, an Óðinn-name, but this makes no sense in the context. Here the single m could be a scribal attempt to regularise the hending, though rhymes of unequal quantity (grimm- : fram-) are in fact quite common in the skaldic corpus (Gade 1995a, 6). See also Note to st. 5/3 ár on single/double consonant spellings in Bb. — [4] Grábak ‘(“Grey-back”)’: A serpent-name (see LP: Grábakr), used here as a synonym for Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’ (see Note to st. 19/6). Grábakr is one of the mythical serpents that gnaw at the roots of the ash Yggdrasill (Grí 34/6). — [4] *akri ‘to the field’: All previous eds emend ms. ‘vakra’, either to akri, dat. sg. of akr ‘(cultivated) field’, or akra gen. pl. (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1832, 15). Akra is a smaller emendation, but grimmr ‘cruel’ usually takes a dat. object. ‘Vakra’ could be an inflected form of the adj. vakr ‘nimble’, but no noun in the helmingr is in grammatical agreement with it; or of the horse-name Vakr, but it is difficult to see how this would work in the context. — [5] ófôum ‘not a few’: Gullberg (1875) takes ms. ófáin as an unattested adj. (f. nom. sg. or n. nom./acc.) ‘uncoloured, dull’ (following the gloss ‘pale, white’ in CVC: fáinn), cf. the p. p. fáinn ‘garish’ (Fritzner: fáinn). This is certainly a lectio difficilior in comparison to ófôum ‘not a few’, and it chimes with the colourful description of the corpses in the following stanza, but it cannot modify dauðum hal (dat. sg.) ‘dead man’ (translated as pl. above in accordance with English idiom) or anything else in the helmingr . — [5] ýtis ‘of the impeller’: A minor emendation, necessary since ms. ýtir (m. nom. sg.) would be a syntactically impossible additional subject for the helmingr’s single finite verb, lét ‘had’. — [6] lauðar ‘of the draw-plate’: Two etymologies have been proposed for lauð f., according to which it is either a hardened metal plate pierced with graduated holes for the drawing of wires, or a metallurgist’s melting-pot (see ÍO: lauð 1); lauð is given as a possible determinant of a gold-kenning in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 61, II, 342). — [8] k*af ‘the deep’: In the ms. a superscript abbreviation for <vi> or <ri> follows <k>, but ‘kviaf/kriaf’ is meaningless and unmetrical, and the emendation to kaf n. obvious and traditional.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. 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.
  4. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  5. Gade, Kari Ellen. 1995a. The Structure of Old Norse dróttkvætt Poetry. Islandica 49. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  6. 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.
  7. ÍO = Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon. 1989. Íslensk orðsifjabók. Reykjavík: Orðabók Háskólans.
  8. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  9. Munch, P. A. and C. R. Unger, eds. 1847. Oldnorsk læsebog med tilhörende glossarium. Christiania (Oslo): Dahl.
  10. Gullberg, H., ed. 1875. Óláfs drápa Tryggvasonar: fragment ur “Bergsboken”. Lund: Berling.
  11. Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1832. Skóla-hátíd í minníngu Fædíngar-dags vors allranádugasta Konúngs Fridriks Sjøtta: Ólafs drápa Tryggvasonar er Hallfredr orti Vandrædaskáld. Videyjarklaustri: Á kostnad Bessastada Skóla.
  12. Internal references
  13. Not published: do not cite (SkmIII)
  14. Not published: do not cite ()

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