Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Nesv 9I/7 — svǫrr ‘the bird’

Ǫld vann ossa skjǫldu
(auðsætt vas þat) rauða,
(hljóms) þás hvítir kómu
(hringmiðlǫndum) þingat.
Þar hykk ungan gram gǫngu
(gunnsylgs), en vér fylgðum,
(blóðs fekk svǫrr) þars slæðusk
sverð, upp í skip gerðu.

Ǫld vann skjǫldu ossa rauða, þás kómu þingat hvítir; þat vas auðsætt hljóms hringmiðlǫndum. Þar hykk ungan gram gerðu gǫngu upp í skip, þars sverð slæðusk, en vér fylgðum; svǫrr blóðs fekk gunnsylgs.

Men made our shields red, that came there white; that was obvious to the sharers of the sword-clamour [(lit. ‘sword-sharers of clamour’) BATTLE > WARRIORS]. There I think the young king made his advance up on to the ship, where swords were blunted, and we followed; the bird of blood [RAVEN/EAGLE] gained a battle-draught [BLOOD].


[7] svǫrr: ‘su ǫr’ papp18ˣ, svanr R686ˣ, 972ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 325V, Flat, saur J1ˣ, J2ˣ, ‘síǫr’ 68, sjór 61, tafn Holm4, ‘gannr’ 325VII, svart Tóm


[7] svǫrr blóðs ‘the bird of blood [RAVEN/EAGLE]’: The species of the svǫrr remains unidentified (cf. NN §451A), and the rarity of this base-word evidently caused confusion in transmission. The variant svanr ‘swan’, although well represented, is probably the result of scribal emendation. Also productive of confusion is Sigvatr’s contrived placement of the two gen.-case nouns gunnsylgs ‘of battle-draught’ and blóðs ‘of blood’ in advance of the base-word svǫrr ‘bird’, so that the listener must decide which connects to svǫrr and which to fekk ‘gained’ (which in this sense takes a gen. object). The solution adopted here follows Kock (NN §485); Finnur Jónsson’s gunnsvǫrr fekk blóðs sylg ‘the battle-bird [RAVEN] got blood to drink’ (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B) unnecessarily assumes tmesis of the cpd; Sigvatr is not otherwise known for his use of this device.



case: nom.


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