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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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SnH Lv 7II/2 — jarl ‘an earl’

Ortak eina        of jarl þulu;
verðrat drápa        með Dǫnum verri;
fǫll eru fjórtán        ok fǫng tíu;
opits ok ǫndvert,        ǫfugt stígandi:
svá skal yrkja,        sás illa kann!

Ortak eina þulu of jarl; verðrat drápa verri með Dǫnum; eru fjórtán fǫll ok tíu fǫng; opits ok ǫndvert, ǫfugt stígandi: svá skal yrkja, sás kann illa!

I composed a þula about an earl; a drápa cannot be worse among the Danes; there are fourteen dips and ten lifts; it is open-ended and twisted, moving backwards: that’s how he shall compose who is poorly skilled!

notes

[2] jarl ‘an earl’: The identity of the recipient of Halli’s poem is unclear, but it could have been Harold Godwineson, then earl of Wessex and later king of England. According to Snegl, Halli composed a poem in honour of the king of England (ÍF 9, 290-1). Flat (1860-8, III, 425) gives his name as Harold Godwineson (Haraldr Guðinason), and H supplies Edward (Játvarðr) (Fms 6, 375). Edward the Confessor (r. 1043-65) was king of England at the time when Halli visited England, but he seems an unlikely recipient for Halli’s praise. Edward had been raised in Normandy and would hardly have been able to understand an ON poem recited by an Icel. skald. Moreover, the poem explicitly states that Halli’s poem honoured an earl. For the ON language in Anglo-Saxon England, see Townend 2002.

grammar

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