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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Yt 8I/8 — Spǫrs ‘Spǫrr’

Frák at Dagr
dauða orði
frægðar fúss
of fara skyldi,
þás valteins
til Vǫrva kom
Spǫrs at hefna.
Ok þat orð
á austrvega
vísa ferð
frá vígi bar,
at þann gram
of geta skyldi
Sleipnis verðar.

Frák at Dagr, fúss frægðar, skyldi of fara orði dauða, þás spakfrǫmuðr valteins kom til Vǫrva at hefna Spǫrs. Ok ferð vísa bar þat orð frá vígi á austrvega, at slǫnguþref verðar Sleipnis skyldi of geta þann gram.

I learned that Dagr, eager for fame, had to depart by the word of death when the wise wielder of the twig of the slain [SWORD > WARRIOR] came to Vǫrvi to avenge Spǫrr. And the retinue of the leader bore the news from the fight to the east , that the flung grasper of the meal of Sleipnir <horse> [HAY > PITCHFORK] had to get that prince.


[8] Spǫrs: ‘spauts’ R685ˣ


[8] at hefna Spǫrs ‘to avenge Spǫrr’: (a) Spǫrr is tentatively taken in this edn as a pers. n., rather than the common noun spǫrr ‘sparrow’. A corresponding name, sbauṛ, is found on an C11th Danish rune stone (Randers 1, DR 115) and appears in Denmark later as Sporgh (Beckman 1960, 5; cf. also Peterson 2007, 203). Müller (1970, 88) also points to an OWN name Spǫrr (Lind 1905-15, 943), and to OE Sperflinc and Sperlinc, names of royal moneyers on C10th Anglo-Saxon coins. These names are thought to be based on Nordic models, as no corresponding names exist elsewhere in Gmc. (b) According to Snorri’s Yng (see Context), Dagr had a soothsaying sparrow which was killed in the east, and for this Dagr undertook a campaign of vengeance during which he too was killed. But although tales in which birds can prophesy do exist, e.g. the crows in Anon (Ólkyrr) 2II or the titmice in Fáfn 32-44, it is more likely that the story was modelled on Óðinn’s ravens Huginn and Muninn (cf. Schück 1904, II, 146-7). Even if the stanza tells of avenging a spǫrr ‘sparrow’, it gives no indication that this bird could tell the future, so the detail in Yng likely came from Snorri himself.



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