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C. F. CLAY, Manager 
















I ^ <A^ 




Professor of English in the University of St Andrews 


IT is generally agreed that the first six pieces included 
in this book are among the most interesting examples of 
Anglo-Saxon poetry which have come down to us; yet with 
one or two exceptions they have received comparatively little 
attention from English scholars. The Norse pieces which 
follow, are still less known in this country. They have all been 
translated into English before — one of them {the Darra^arlj 6^) 
as far back as 1768; but most of these translations are in verse. 
Prose translations and commentaries are few in number, and 
are now practically inaccessible to the majority of students. 

Almost all the poems, both English and Norse, may be, 
and frequently are, described as 'lyrics,' though this de- 
scription is not strictly appropriate to their metrical form, 
except perhaps in the case of parts of Nos. VII, IX, and X. 
The general resemblance between the poems on the battle of 
Brunanburh (No. VI) and the battle of Hafsfjord (No. VIII) 
is obvious. But on the whole the reader will probably be 
struck by the absence of resemblance between the two sets 
of poems. It is a singular fact that the first five pieces 
contain no proper names, whereas an Index Nominum for 
the Norse poems would make a considerable list. And this 
is not due to any arbitrary method of selection. Poems of 
the abstract character seen in Nos. I — V are not to be found 
in early Norse literature, while no true Anglo-Saxon parallels 
are to be found for Nos. IX — XII. This is due in part, no 
doubt, to the difference of faith, for most of the Norse poems 
date from heathen times. But another and perhaps more 
important reason lies in the fact that the Norse poems are 
concerned with specific events, whereas the subjects of the 
Anglo-Saxon poems are detached from any such associations. 

The last piece (No. XIII) is of a somewhat different cha- 
racter from the rest. It belongs to the same category as the 
heroic poems of the Edda, especially the Atlakvi(Sa, and is 


related more distantly to the Anglo-Saxon fragments which 
deal with the stories of Finn and Waldhere. My reason for 
including it in this collection is that it is not contained in 
any of the editions of the Edda. I think that it will appeal 
to students of heroic poetry. 

My thanks are due to the Rev, Canon McLaren, Librarian 
of the Cathedral Library at Exeter, for the trouble which he 
has taken on several occasions in allowing me to consult the 
MS. of the Exeter Book, and to both him and Mrs McLaren 
for much kindness which I have received from them while in 
Exeter ; to Sir Geoffrey Butler, Librarian of Corpus Christi 
College, Cambridge, for the facilities which he has afforded 
me for consulting the Parker MS. of the Saxon Chronicle and 
other Mss. ; to Mr E. J. Thomas of Emmanuel College and of 
the University Library, Cambridge, and to Miss C. H. Wedg- 
wood of Newnham College, Cambridge, who have kindly read 
the proofs for me and made many helpful suggestions. I wish 
further to thank the Syndics of the University Press for 
undertaking the publication of the book, and the staffs of 
the University Press and of the University Library for their 
unfailing courtesy while the work was in progress. Above all 
I have to thank Professor Chadwick who has unreservedly 
placed the results of his own labours at my disposal, both in 
the translation and in the commentary, and to whom I am 
heavily indebted for criticism and help throughout the work. 

N. K. 

February, 1922. 



Introduction: The Manuscript Sources 


of Early Norse and English Poetry 


I The Wanderer .... 


II The Seafarer .... 


Ill The Wife's Complaint . 


IV The Husband's Message 


V The Ruin 


YI The Battle of Brunanburh . 



Note on Norse Manuscripts . 


VII The Hrafnsmdl .... 


VIII The Battle of HafsQord 


IX TheEiriksmal .... 


X The Hakonarmal .... 


XI The Darra?5arlj6S .... 


XII The Sonatorrek .... 


XIII The Battle of the Goths and Huns 



Vigfusson, Diet. — An Icelandic-English Dictionary, by R. Cleasby 
and G. Vigfusson. Oxford, 1874. 

Fritzner, Diet. — Ordbog over det gamle norske Sprog. Christiania, 

F. Jonsson, Diet. — Revised edition of Sveinbjom Egilsson's Lexicon 
Poeticum Antiqiiae Linguae Septentrionalis. Copenhagen, 1916. 

B. and T., Diet. — Bosworth and Toller, Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. 
Oxford, 1882—1898. 

B. and T., Suppl.— Supplement to the above, by J. N. Toller, Parts 
I— III. Oxford, 1908—1921. 

Saxo, Dan. Hist. — Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum, ed. Holder, 
Strassburg, 1886. In Books I — IX the references are to the pages of 
O. Elton's translation. London, 1894. 



The history of the texts contained in this volume presents 
some curious contrasts. The Norse pieces were composed at 
various times between the ninth and eleventh centuries, but 
they were probably not committed to writing before the 
thirteenth century — or at earliest before the last decades 
of the twelfth — when they were incorporated in prose works. 
During the next two hundred years these works appear to 
have been frequently copied. Then came a period during 
which the early literature fell into neglect everywhere. The 
revival of interest began in Scandinavian lands about 1630, 
and the Mss. which survived — chiefly in Iceland — were eagerly 
sought and copied. Unfortunately the largest collection of 
MSS., belonging to the University Library at Copenhagen, 
was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1728. So many 
copies however had been made during the previous century 
that as a general rule there is little doubt as to the readings 
of the lost MSS. 

The history of the English texts contained in this volume 
presents a curious contrast to that of the Norse (cf. p. 72 ff. 
below). Anglo-Saxon literature was apparently forgotten 
almost everyAvhere by the middle of the twelfth century, 
a time when ^\Titten Norse literature was still in its infancy. 
Its rediscovery took place in the sixteenth century, about a 
hundred years earlier than the revival of Norse literature. 
But only a comparatively small amount of Anglo-Saxon poetry 
was preserved in prose works, and of the purely poetical texts 
few were copied or published before the beginning of the 
nineteenth century — the chief exception being Junius's Bib- 
lical poems in 1655. Four MS. volumes, one of which is in 
Italy, contain nearly all that is left of Anglo-Saxon poetry. 


The first five of the pieces given below are taken from 
the Codex Exoniensis, the fullest and most important of the 
surviving mss. This book was presented to the Library of 
Exeter Cathedral by Bishop Leofric, who held the see between 
the years 1050 and 1072, and it is still preserved there. A list 
of the bishop's donations to the Cathedral and the Library 
was drawn up about the same time, and a copy of this, in a 
hand almost contemporary with that of the Exeter Book, has 
been bound in the same volume, along with some late charters 
and documents referring to the Cathedral. This list is printed 
in an Appendix on p. 206 f. below, and in it will be found a 
notice of a mycel Englisc hoc which no doubt refers to our MS. 
The Codex ^ is a fine vellum, beautifully written in a clear 
large hand, though the little decoration which it contains is 
cruder It is generally believed to date from about three- 
quarters of a century before Leofric's time^ Much of the 
concluding part of the book has been rendered illegible by 
some object, possibly a piece of burning wood, having been 
dropped on the last leaves and allowed to smoulder there for 
some time. This accounts for the lacunae in the Husband's 
Message and the Ruin. 

The earliest known copy of the Exeter Pook is a facsimile 
which was made by one R. Chambers for the British Museum 
in 1831 (mss. Add. 9067). Apparently it was then possible 
to read rather more of the MS. than is now legible, and the 
copy has proved to be of some use — though rather as a check 
upon proposed restorations of mutilated passages than as a 
means of supplying lacunae \ 

Few close parallels to the five pieces from this Codex can 
be found in Anglo-Saxon literature. Analogies may be looked 
for in certain passages in Beowulf, and in the latter part of 
Hymn IV (Grein, Bihl. ii, p. 217). But most of the poetry 
which has come down to us is essentially religious in character. 

1 For details of the Exeter Book and its contents see Wiilcker, Grundriss 
zur Geschichte der angeUdchsischen Litteratur (Leipzig, 1885), p. 218 ff. 

- Cf. p. 37 below. 

3 Cf., however, A. S. Cook, The Christ of Cyneividf {Boston, 1909), p. xvi. 

•• For some account of Chambers's copy cf. Tupper, TIte Eiddles of the 
Exeter Book (Boston, etc., 1910), p. xcvii f. ; Anscombe, Aiujlia, xxxiv, p. 526 ; 
Chambers, Anglia, xxxv, p. 393 f. ; and Tupper, Anglia, sxxvi, p. 285 f. 


Yet it is difficult to see how such poems as these with which 
we are dealing could have come into existence unless there 
was a considerable body of secular poetry current at the time 
when they were composed. The explanation is doubtless to 
be found in the facts pointed out above. It is probable that 
no English libraries survived the period of the Norman 
Conquest, except those which belonged to religious houses ; 
and in these, naturally enough, secular poems would be far 
less popular than religious works. 

From what has been said it will be clear that the diffi- 
culties encountered in editing Norse and Anglo-Saxon poems 
are of a somewhat different character. In the latter case the 
editor has seldom to deal with more than one MS. When 
this has been damaged or erroneously copied his only re- 
sources are analogy or conjecture ; otherwise his problems 
will be merely those of interpretation. On the other hand 
the editor of a Norse poem, especially poems quoted in the 
early histories of Norway, will probably have to consider a 
number of MSS. which may present several different readings 
in the same passage, all giving at least an intelligible sensed 
Very often he will have to study somewhat complicated 
problems of literary history before he can judge Avith safety 
betweenVlbe claims of the various texts. 

The orthography of the Anglo-Saxon poems presents no 
difficulties. Apart from the expansion of a few contractions, 
and except in cases where emendation is required, it is 
customary to print the texts as contained in the MSS., and 
I have not departed from the usual practice. In the Battle 
of Brunanhurh I have followed the text of the earliest MS. 
except in a few cases where it is obviously wrong. 

1 This is doubtless the reason why editors of Norse texts are in general in 
the habit of treating their ms. authorities with far greater freedom than 
would be allowed in the case of Anglo-Saxon texts. The Honatorrek in 
jiarticular haR beoi emended in most editions to such an extent that it has 
almost become a new poem. It is especially to be regretted that the editors 
do not systematically record the readings of at least the more important mss. 
For the puiposes of a book like this, which is concerned rather with inter- 
pretation than with textual criticism, and which contains poems from many 
flifferent sagas, one is necessarily dependent on editions of the sagas and of 
individual mss.; and it is unfortunate tbat the actual readings of the iiss. 
are sometimes to be ascertained only with great difiieulty if at all. There 
appear to have been many errors of transcription also, even in recent 


With Norse poems on the other hand the editor's course 
is by no means so clear, owing to the large number of MSS. 
involved. There is a considerable amount of variation in the 
orthography^ — both between one MS. and another, and in the 
individual MSS. themselves — a variation which is due in part 
to the preservation here and there of archaic forms. Normal- 
isation in some form or other is almost universally adopted 
by editors, and the usual practice is to normalise in favour 
of the more archaic forms ^ This practice frequently has the 
advantage of preserving the metre, but at the same time it 
involves the editor in many difficulties^ No texts, except a 
few inscriptions, have come down to us from the times of 
Hornklofi or Egill, and the language of these poets is in 
reality irrecoverable. The result of the normalising process 
is too often, I fear, a cento of forms belonging to various 
periods. The Norse texts however have certain advantages 
over the Anglo-Saxon texts, owing to the fact that something 
is generally known, both of the poets themselves, and of 
the historical works in which the poems are incorporated* — 
sometimes indeed even of the scribes, in both the earlier and 
later periods. The chief advantage however is that the his- 
torians themselves often draw from the poems which they 
quote, and thus furnish a guide to the meaning of difficult 

1 E.g. in the represeutation of the sound arising from a by labialisation. 
In this book o is used in accordance with later Icelandic usage. German 
editions generally use q. 

^ E.g. in the use of es, 's for er— the relative particle, and 3 sing. pres. 
indie, oivera (vesa). 

^ In accordance with general custom I have printed sds where the mss. 
have .sjd er. But is this substitution really justifiable? 

^ This is of course true also in the case of No. VI below, though the 
author is unknown. 


This poem is preserved only in the Exeter Book (fol. 76 f.), 
where it is preceded by Juliana and followed by the Bi Manna 
Crseftum. Like most Anglo-Saxon poems it is anonymous, and, 
like the four following pieces, it is generally described either 
as lyric or as elegiac. The metre, however, is the ordinary 
quadruple-stressed alliterative verse, which probably had its 
origin in narrative poetry, but which has practically ousted 
all other forms of verse in Anglo-Saxon literature. There is 
no trace of any division into strophes or stanzas; the relation- 
ship of the verse to the sentence is, as usual, the same as in 
the epic. These remarks also apply to the pieces which follow. 

No title is assigned to the poem in the MS., but since the time 
of Thorpe it has been generally known as The Wanderer. This 
title is not a particularly happy one. It does not apply at all 
to the latter part of the poem, and even in the first part it 
would have been possible to choose a more appropriate term 
for the person whose position is described. 

The poem falls into two main sections, of which only the 
first deals with a 'wanderer ' — or rather a homeless man of the 
upper class who has lost his lord. The second main section 
consists of reflections upon a ruin. The connection between 
the two parts — and indeed the sequence of thought through- 
out the poem — is not very clear. The general theme however 
is the transitoriness of prosperity, tempered by the reflection, 
which is introduced both at the beginning and the end, that 
relief from misery may be expected from God's mercy. 

In the opening lines the poet reflects that those whose lot it 
is to traverse the wintry sea in solitude and sorrow look for the 
mercy of God, In 1. 6 we are introduced to a homeless man 
who has lost all his friends in war. In his speech (1. 8 ff.) he 
bewails the cruel fate which he has to bear in silence and 
solitude. Such has been his lot ever since, long ago, he lost 
the prince whom he had served, and set out over the sea in the 

K. 1 


hope of finding some lord who would befriend him. At 1. 29 
begins a series of reflections on the hardships and bitterness 
of his situation. A vivid picture is drawn of the memories and 
visions of past friends which haunt him in his dreams. From 
this the poet passes in 1. 58 to general considerations on the 
transitoriness and misery of human life, and so leads up to a 
series of maxims on conduct expressed in gnomic form. The 
last maxim consists of an injunction to the wise to remember 
that nothing is permanent, and this idea suggests to the 
poet's mind the picture (1. 75 f.) of a ruined castle, the owners 
of which have all perished. In 11, 92 — 110 we have the 
speech of an imaginary person surveying such a ruin — 
apparently a stone building of the Roman period. The second 
speech ends with further reflections on the transitoriness of 
earthly things (11. 106 — 110). Again the poet passes, though 
very briefl}^ (1. 112 ff.), to general maxims on the conduct of 
life, and concludes (11, 1 14, 115), as he began, with the observa- 
tion that relief from troubles is only to be obtained by God's 

It will be seen that two speeches are contained in the 
poem. The first begins at 1. 8 ; the second begins at 1. 92 and 
ends at 1, 110. The point at which the first speech ends is not 
clear, and it is a remarkable fact that no inverted commas 
have been ventured for the end of this speech in the editions 
of Grain, Wulcker, Sweet and Sieper, although they are used at 
11. 8, 92, 110. The choice seems to lie between 11. 29, 62, and 87. 

The vocabulary of the poem is somewhat unusual and presents 
a considerable number of aira^ Xeyofieva, e.g. modcearig, gliw- 
stasf, cwidegiedd, geondpencan, hrsedwyrde, feohgifre, hiwawne, 
hry&ge, dreorighleor, wealsteal, hri&, hssglfare, gesteal. On the 
other hand the poem contains many of the stock ideas of 
Anglo-Saxon poetry. The hour before dawn is conventionally 
chosen as the time when discomfort or grief is most acutely 
felt (cf. th-e Wife's Complaint, 1. 35); the hospitable and 
generous goldwine, the wintry sea, the crumbling ruin, the 
transitoriness of earth and all that it holds — all these things 
are to be found mentioned or described in precisely similar 
phrases elsewhere in Anglo-Saxon poetry, while the diction 


and phrasing find many echoes^ in the Blickling Homilies and 
WuHstan's sermons. 

Christian ideas are not very prominent on the whole, 
though they are obvious in 11. 1 f., 85, 114 f. The use of 'this' 
in connection with words denoting 'world' (e.g. 11. 58, 62, 75) 
points in the same direction, and so too, probably, do the 
expressions woruldnce and eorpan rice (11. 65, 106). Many 
scholars also believe that the list in 1. 80 fi'. and the rhetorical 
questions in 1. 92 IF. are derived from Latin works of a religious 
character-. It is in the last ten lines (106 — 115), however, that 
Christian influence is most prominent. Yet even here 1. 108 
presents an interesting parallel to the heathen Hdvamdl, and 

I. 107 contains a reference to the Fates — an idea clearly 
derived from heathen mythology. Other references to Fate 
(in the singular), more or less personified, occur in 11. 5, 15, 
100. The poem therefore shows a curious confusion of Christian 
and heathen ideas, somewhat similar to what is found in 

The same confusion may be traced in the references to 
ethical principles. The conclusion of the poem is definitely 
Christian, but elsewhere the virtues inculcated are rather 
those which appear to have been specially emphasised by 
the public opinion of the Teutonic aristocracy in heathen 
times, such as fortitude under hardships, generosity, bravery, 
prudence. Here again the outlook is similar to that oi' Beotuulf. 

Gnomic utterances are much in evidence — especially in 

II. 11—18, 62—72, 106 tf.— another feature which this poem 
has in common with Beowulf, as well as with pieces in which 
such utterances form the main theme. In this category 
we may perhaps include the Bi Manna Wyrdum, which 
resembles the latter part of the Wanderer in several features, 
partly owing to the similarity of the theme. The most striking 
parallel occurs in 1. 80 ff. of the Wanderer where, in addition to 
resemblance in subject-matter, the same formula is employed 
as in the former poem. 

Parallels may also be traced between the Wanderer and the 

1 Instances are cited in the notes below. 
^ See the notes to these passages. 



Seafarer : (1) in the description of the winter storm, S. 1. 31 f. ; 
W. 1. 102 f. (2) in references to the past splendour of the 
world, S. 1. 86 f . ; W. 1. 79 f. (3) in the poetical device of 
emphasising the misery of a seafaring life by contrasting it 
with a life of luxury on land, 8. 11. 20 f , 44 f ; W. 1. 32 f (4) in 
the curiously recurring lines S. 12, 55 (cf. 27); W. 11. 29, 87. 
All these features may however be accounted for by similarity 
■)f subject and a common poetic convention. A closer and 
deeper analogy to the first scene in the Wanderer is to be 

^ found in Beowulf (11. 2233—2270), in the episode of the last 
survivor of a generation and a chivalry that has passed away. 
Another parallel in the latter poem is presented by the scene 

"^ of the bereaved father (11. 2444 — 2459), which also bears 
a resemblance to a passage in the Bi Manna Wyrdum 
(11. 33—42). 

The second scene in the Wanderer has much in common 
with the Ruin, though this again is due largely to the nature 
of the subject. As instances we may cite^ W. 1. 87 eald 
enta geweoix ; R.l. 2 enta geweorc. W. 1. 88 J^isne wealsteal ; 
R. 1. 1 Jj^es wealstan, 1. 21 hurgsteall. W. 1. 98 weal. . .wyrmlicum 
fall] R. 1. 9f. wag . . .readfah — and the following passages : 

W. 1. 77 f. R. 1. 20 f. 

hry^ge )ja ederas, woriaS jja wurdon hyra wigsteal westen- 

winsalo ; sta))olas, brosnade burgsteall. 

W. 1. 78 f. R. 1. 6 f. 
waldend licga'S dreame bidro- eortgrap hafa'S waldend wyrhtan 

rene ; forweorone geleorone. 

TT. 1.79f. i?. 1. 21f. 

duguiJ eal gecrong wlonc bi betend crungon, hergas to hru- 

wealle ; san. 

W. 1. 100 ' R. 1. 17 

Wyrd seo msere ; Wyrd seo swijie. 

The resemblances pointed out above between the Wandei^er 
and Beowidf favour the view that the former was composed 
during the earlier part of the Saxon period. Indeed this is 
commonly held to be the case with all the poems which we 
have been discussing-. We have no reason to suppose that 

1 Cf. Sieper, Die altenglische Elegie (Strassburg, 1915), p. 198. 

^ Schiicking however refers {Kleines angelsachsisches Dicliterhuch, Cothen, 
1919) nearly all these poems to the tenth century ; but he holds that even 
Beowulf is not earlier than the close of the ninth. 


the Wimderer is one of the eai'liest of these poems. The 
evidence as to date is indeed hirgely inferential, and not very 
satisfactory. Like the rest of the poems in the Exeter Book it 
has conie down to us in the form of hxnguage generally used in 
poetical MSS. dating from the end of the tenth century, i.e. 
what is known as Late West Saxon, with a certain number of 
forms which belong to an earlier period and a different part 
of the country. The most trustworthy linguistic criterion 
which has yet been found for determining the date of Anglo- 
Saxon poems is the use of the article — especially its presence 
or absence before a 'weak' adj. in combination with the noun. 
In the Wanderer the article (or demonstrative pronoun) is 
always found in this position — which is against the usage of 
the earliest poems'. But the number of cases (four in all) is so 
small that this criterion can hardly be said to afford any very 
decisive indication as to date I 

It has been frequently suggested that the poem as we 
have it is of composite origin. Some scholars believe that the 
Christian passages at the beginning and the end are later 
additions, others that the original poem ended at I. 62. Into 
such questions I cannot enter here ; it is obvious, however, 
that anonymous poems of this character would admit of such 
extension as is suggested, and the apparent want of coherence 
in the poem lends some colour to the idea. Again the incon- 
sistencies pointed out above in regard to religious conceptions 
and ethical standards bear witness no doubt to a change of 
faith. But it does not necessarily follow that the poem was 
originally composed before the conversion of the English. The 
fact that the Christian ideas are more prominent towards the 
end of the poem may indeed point to a change of environment, 
but this might just as well be local as chronological. From 
the seventh century onwards the popularity of references to 

1 In Cynewulf's poems, which are generally assigned to the ninth century, 
and perhaps to the earlier half of it, the article occurs in this construction 
in about eight out of nine cases. 

'^ Kichter (Chronohxji-'fche Studien znr angelsachsischen Literatur, Halle, 
1910, p. !)f;) dates it at c. 750-800. Brandl {Geschichte der altenglisclwn 
Literatur, Strassburg, 1908, p. 878) on the other hand brings it down to 
about the time of Alfred, and suggests that the disasters of 8(J7-870 may be 
reflected in 1. 75 S. But this explauation will hardly suit the required con- 
ditions in either the first or the second part of the poem. 


God or Fate, to Christian principles or the old military and 
aristocratic ideals, would doubtless vary in different courts and 
households, to say nothing of the religious houses. Indeed in 
some respects the old ideals maintained their strength nearly 
to the end of the Saxon period. 

But after all it is a question of minor importance whether 
the poem originated in the seventh, eighth, or ninth century. 
The really interesting question is how such a peculiar type of 
composition came into existence ; and this question affects not 
only the Waiiderer but also the four following pieces (pp. 16 
— 57). If we seek for a common definition applicable to these 
five poems, we may perhaps describe them as (somewhat 
elaborate) studies of situation or emotion applied to imaginary 
and nameless persons who are detached from any definite 
associations of time or place. The same description holds 
good for the two passages in Beowulf cited above — those 
relating to the ' last survivor ' and the ' bereaved father ' 
respectively — as well as for other passages in the same poem, 
e.g. the account of the 'arrogant man' in 11. 1728 — 1757. 
Similar studies are not uncommon in modern literature, but 
the characters, though imaginary, are not as a rule nameless. 
On the other hand in early Norse poetry, as in Greek tragedy ^ 
the usual practice was to choose for such studies scenes frotn 
heroic stories^ — i.e. the subjects are characters of the past, 
not fictions of the poet's imagination. Instances may be 
found among the poems of the Edda, e.g. the ' Lamentation 
of Guthriin ' (Gud'rilnarkvid'a I) or 'Brynhildr's Ride to Hell 
(Helreid' Brynhildar). The relationship of such studies to 
the Anglo-Saxon type may be appreciated by comparing the 
first of these poems with Tennyson's poem on the same 
theme. The simplification shown by the latter is probably 
required by this type, and would doubtless have appeared in 
an Anglo-Saxon poem on the subject — which however would 

1 Instances are not uncommon in the Old Testament also, e.g. the elegy 
of David over Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam. i. 19 ff.), unless this is really a 
contemporary poem. 

' It was apparently not until the twelfth century that stories other than 
heroic were used for this purpose (e.g. Hjdlmarr's Death Song in Orvar- 
Odds Saga). 


have opened with some such conventional ])hrase as e.g. 
'Sorrowful is the heart of a wife when her warrior is brought 
home dead,' or ' I can tell how my warrior was brought 
home dead.' 

The fondness for this nameless, timeless type of poetry is 
probably to be connected with the popularity of riddle poetry, 
and with the absence of any poetry which can properly be 
regarded as historical. Anglo-Saxon poetry contains hardly 
any reference to historical persons and events between the 
end of the Heroic Age and the time of Aethelstan — a period 
of over three centuries and a half. Stories of saints, such as 
St Guthlac, are almost the only exceptions, and in these the 
historical element is reduced to a minimum. 

It would seem that what appealed most to the poets of that 
period was a description of situations or emotions which were 
free from personal associations. And the majority of readers 
will probably agree that it is in such descriptions — both in 
our poems and in the passages from Beowulf cited above — 
that Anglo-Saxon poetry appears at its best, whereas the 
weak point lies in construction — in want of coherence 
between the different parts of the poem. It strikes us as 
rather strange that so abstract a type of poetry should have 
prevailed in an age which we are accustomed to regard 
as barbarous. But the fact must be borne in mind that 
we have evidence, e.g. in the stories of Caedmon^ and 
St Aldhelm-, for an unusually wide cultivation of poetry, at 
least in the earlier part of this period' — apparently among all 
classes ; and it may be that the intellectual standard of the 
age was higher than is generally recognised. 

1 Cf. Bede, Hist. Eccl. iv, 24. 

2 Cf. William of Malmesbury, Ge,s«a Pontif. (Rolls Series) v, § 190. 

3 In later times we may refer e.g. to the songs sung at funerals which 
Aelfric condemned. Cf. Canons of yElfric, cap. 35 (ed. Thorpe, Ancient Laws 
and Institutes of England, 1840, Vol. i, p. 356 f.). 


Oft him anhaga are gebideS, 

metudes miltse, peah pe he modcearig 

geond lagulade longe sceolde 

hreran mid hondum hrimcealde see, V*v--fc&^./ 
5 wadan wrseclastas. Wyrd biS ful araed ! 

Swa cwaeS eardstapa earfej^a gemyndig, 

wraj^ra wselsleahta, winemsega hryre : i 

' Oft ic sceolde ana iihtna gehwylce 

mine ceare cwij)an. Nis nu cwicra nan 
lo J7e ic him modsefan minne durre 

sweotule asecgan. Ic toso]?e wat 

pset bi]? in eorle indryhten )jeaw , 

J?8et he his ferSlocan fseste binde, 
V I healde^ his hordcofan, hycge swa he wille. 

1 5 Ne mseg werigmod Wyrde wiSstondan, 

ne se hreo hyge . helpe gefremman. 

For Son domgeorne " "dreorigne oft 

in hyra breostcofan bindaS fseste. 

Swa ic modsefan minne sceolde 
20 oft earmcearig, eSle bidaeled, 

freomsegum feor feterum sselan, 

si]?|?an geara iu gold wine minne - 

hrusan heolster'' biwrah, and ic hean j^onan 

wod wintercearig ofer wsepema'^-gehmd, 
25 sohte sele dreorig sinces bryttan, \-.. 

hwEer ic feor oppe neah findan meahte 

J?one pe in meoduhealle mm^ mine wisse, 

o)>|>e mec freondleaswe" frefran wolde, 
^^cj^^. wenian mid wynnum.' Wat se pe cunnaS 
3ohu sli|?en bis sorg to geferan 

J7am pe him lyt hafaS leofra geholena. 

^ em. Thorpe {? healde), healdne ms. - em. Thorpe (mine), mine ms. 

3 em. Ettmuller, heolstre ms. * em. Thorpe (cf. 1. 57), wapena ms. 

^^ em. Klaeber, om. ms. « em. Thor^Q, freondlease ms. 


The solitar}^ man is constantly looking for mercy and God's 
compassion, though over the watery ways with gloomy heart 
he has long had to stir with his arms the icy sea, treading 
the paths of exile. Fate is absolutely fixed ! 

These are the words of a wanderer whose memory was full 
of troubles and cruel carnage, wherein his dear kinsmen 
had fallen : 

' Ever it has been my lot to bewail my sorrows in 
solitude in the twilight of each morning. There is now no- 
one left alive to whom I dare tell frankly the feelings of 
my heart. I know truly that it is a mark of nobility in 
a knight that he should fasten securely and keep to himself 
the treasur}^ in which his thoughts are stored — think what 
he will ! For all his grief of heart a man cannot resist Fate, 
nor can his troubled spirit give him any help. And so those 
who are eager to be of good report generally keep their 
sorrow imprisoned in the secret chamber of the heart. 

' I myself too, in my misery and distress, have constantly 
had to bind my feelings in fetters — exiled ft'om home and far 
from my kinsmen — ever since the day when the dark earth 
closed over my generous lord, and I wandered away over the 
expanse of waters, destitute and distraught with the dangers 
of winter, looking in sorrow for the abode of a generous 
prince — if far or near I could find one who would feel regard for 
me in his banqueting hall, or comfort me in my fri endlessness 
and entertain me with good cheer.' 

It will be realised by him who experiences it what a cruel 
companion anxiety is to one who has no kind protector. His 


WaraS hine wrseclast, nales wunden gold, 

ferfJloca freorig, nalaes foldan blaed. 

Gemon he selesecgas and sinc|?ege, 
35I1U hine on geoguSe his gold wine 

wenede to wiste. Wyn eal gedreas ! 

For J?on wat se J?e sceal his winedryhtnes 

leofes larcwidum longe forJ?olian ; 

Sonne sorg and slsep somod setga^dre 
40 earmne anhogan oft gebindaS, 

J^inced"^ him on mode )?8et he his mondryhten 

clyppe and cysse, and on cneo lecge^ 

honda and heafod, swa he hwilum ser 

in geardagum giefstolas breac. 
45 Donne onw^ecneS eft wineleas guma, 

gesihS him biforan fealwe wegas, 

ba]7ian brimfuglas, braedan fej>ra, 

hreosan hrim and snaw hagle gemepged. 

Donne beot5 J?y hefigran heortan benne 
50 sare sefter swsesne; sorg biS geniwad, 

]>onne maga gemynd mod geondhweorfeS. 

GreteS gliwstafum, georne geondsceaweS. 

Secga geseldan swimmaS eft^ onweg ; 

fleotendra ferS no )>8er fela bringeS 
55 cuSra cwidegiedda ; cearo biS geniwad 

)?am pe sendan sceal swij^e geneahhe 

ofer waj?ema gebind werigne sefan. 

For ]>on ic ge]?encan ne mseg geond pas woruld 

for hwan modsefa min ne^ gesweorce, 
60 J;onne ic eorla lif eal geond]?ence — 

hu hi farlice flet ofgeafon, 

modge magu)?egnas — swa pes middangeard 

ealra dogra gehwam dreoseS and fealle]?. 

For )>on ne maeg wear]7an wis wer ser he age 
65 wintra dsel in woruldrice. Wita sceal gej?yldig, 

ne sceal no to hatheort, ne to hrsedwyrde, 

ne to wac wiga, ne to wanhydig, 

1 em. Thorpe, pinced ms. ^ go Thorpe, etc., ls^ge MS. 

3 em. Thorpe C? eft), oft ms. * em. Grain, modsefan minne 


thoughts are full of homeless wanderings — not of gold rings ; 
of his shivering breast — not of the good things of the earth. 
He calls to mind the men of the hall and the giving of 
treasure, and how when he was young he was entertained 
to his heart's content by his generous lord. But now all his 
happiness has passed away ! 

It will be realised, assuredly, by him who will have to forego 
for all time the instructions of his dear lord and friend. Ever 
when distress and sleep together lay hold on the poor solitary, 
he dreams that he is greeting and kissing his liege-lord, and 
laying his hands and head on his knee — just as he used to 
do when he enjoyed the bounty of the throne in days of old. 
Then the friendless man awakes again and sees before him 
the grey waves — sees the sea-birds bathing and spreading 
their wings, and rime falling, and snow mingled with hail. 
The grievous wounds, which the loss of his lord has made in 
his heart, are all the harder to bear, and his sorrow comes 
back to him when the memory of his kinsmen passes through 
his mind. He greets them in glad strains and scans them all 
eagerly. His warrior comrades again melt away, and as they 
vanish their spirits bring no familiar greetings to his ear. 
His sorrow comes back to him as on and on he must urge 
his aching heart over the expanse of waters. 

Assuredly I cannot think of any reason in the world why 
my spirit should not be clouded, when I reflect upon the whole 
life of noblemen — how halls have suddenly been left destitute 
of proud warrior squires — ^just as mankind here droops and 
perishes day by day. 

Assuredly no man can acquire wisdom until he has spent 
many years in the world. A man of authority must be 
patient, — not too impetuous, or too hasty of speech, or too 
slack or reckless in combat, or too timid, or jubilant, or 


ne to forht, ne to fsegen, ne to feohgifre. 

ne nsefre gielpes to geom aer he geare cunne. 
70 Beorn sceal gebidan, ]7onne he beot spriceS, 

op jfset collenferS cunne gearwe 

hwider hrejra gehygd hvveorfan wille. 

Ongietan sceal gleaw hsele hu gsestlic biS 

]>onne eab-e^ j^isse worulde wela weste stondeS, 
75 swa nu raissenlice geond ]?isne middangeard 

winde biwawne- weallas stonda]?, 

hrime bihrorene. HrySge pa, ederas, 

woriaS pa, winsalo, waldend licgat5 

dreame bidrorene, duguS eal gecrong 

80 wlonc bi wealle. Sume wig fornom, 

ferede on forSwege ; sumne fugel o)>b3er 

ofer heanne hohii ; sumne se hara wulf 

deaSe gedselde ; sumne dreorighleor 

in eorSscrsefe eorl gehydde. 
85 Ypde^ swa |>isne eardgeard selda scyppend, 

0]? J?8et burgwara breahtma lease 

eald enta geweorc idlu stodon. 

Se ponne ]?isne Avealsteal wise ge|?ohte, 

and ]7is deorce^ lif deope geond)>enceS, 
90 frod in ferSe, feor oft gemon 

wselsleahta worn, and ]?as word acwiS : 

' Hwaer cwom mearg ? hwger cwom mago ? hwoer cwom 
ma}7|?umgyfa ? 

hwaer cwom symbla gesetu ? hwaer sindon seledreamas? 

Eala beorht bune ! eala byrnwiga ! 
95 eala ]?eodnes |?rym ! Hu seo prag gewat, 

genap under nihthelm, swa heo no waere ! 

StondeS nu on laste leofre duguj'e 

weal wundrum heah, wyrmlicum fah. 

Eorlas fornomon asca |>ry]?e, 
100 wsepen waelgifru, Wyrd seo maere ; 

and pa,s stanhleoJ>u stormas cnyssaS. 

HriS hreosende hrusar?^ bindeS, 

1 em. Wiilcker, ealle ms. " em. Ettmiiller, biwaune ms. 

^ em, Thorpe, yfiife ms. ■* em. Thorpe, deornce ms. 

'* em. Thorpe (^ hrusan), hruse ms. 


covetous, or too ready to boast ere he knows full well the 
issue. When an impetuous warrior is making a vow, he 
ought to pause until he knows full well the issue — whither the 
impulse of his heart will lead. A wise man must perceive 
how mysterious will be the time when the wealth of all this 
age will lie waste — ;just as now in diverse places through- 
out this earth walls are standing beaten by the wind and 
covered with rime. The bulwarks are dismantled, the ban- 
queting halls are ruinous ; their rulers lie bereft of joy and 
all their proud chivalry has fallen by the wall. Some have 
been cut off by battle, borne on their last journey. One was 
carried by birds over the deep sea; one was given over to 
death by the grey wolf; one was buried in a hole in the 
earth by a knight of sad countenance. Thus did the Creator 
of men lay waste this place of habitation until the clamour 
of its occupants all ceased, and the buildings raised of old 
by giants stood empty. He then who in a spirit of medita- 
tion has pondered over this ruin, and who with an under- 
standing heart probes the mystery of our life down to its 
depths, will call to mind many slaughters of long ago and 
give voice to such words as these : 

' What h^ become of the steed ? What has become 
of the squire ? What has become of the giver of treasure ? 
What has become of the banqueting houses ? Where 
are the joys of the hall ? O shining goblet ! O mailed 
warrior ! O glory of the prince ! How has that time passed 
away, grown shadowy under the canopy of night as though 
it had never been ! There remains now of the beloved knights 
no trace save the wall wondrously high, decorated with serpent 
forms. The nobles have been carried off by the violence of 
spears, by weapons greedy for slaughter and by mighty 
Fate, and these ramparts of stone are battered by tempests. 
Winter's blast, the driving snow-storm enwraps the earth 


wintres woma, J>onne won cymeS, 

nipeS nihtscua, nor]7an onsendeS 
105 hreo hseglfare h8ele))um on andan. 

Eall is earfotJlic eor]7an rice, 

onwendetJ Wyrda gesceaft weoruld under heofonum. 

Her bis feoh laene, her biS freond Isene, 

her bis mon laene, her biS mseg Isene : 
1 10 eal J?is eor]?an gesteal idel weorj^eS ! ' 

Swa cvvgeS snottor on mode, gesset him sundor set rune. 

Til bi]? se j^e his treowe gehealdeS : ne sceal nsefre his 
torn to rycene 

beorn of his breostum acyj^an, nemj^e he ser j^a bote cunne 

eorl mid elne gefremman ! Wei biS }?am pe him are seceS, 
115 frofre to fseder on heofonum, J^aer us eal seo fsestnung 
stondet5 ! 


when the shades of night eoino darkly lowering, and sends 
from the North a cruel hail-storm in wrath against mankind. 

' All the realm of earth is full of tribulation. The life of 
mankind in the world is shattered by the handiwork of the 
Fates. Here wealth and friends, liegemen and kinsfolk pass 
away. Desolation will hold sway throughout the wide world.' 

Thus spake the man wise of understanding as he sat 
communing with himself in solitude. Good is he who keeps 
his faith. A warrior must never be too precipitate in giving 
vent to the grief in his heart, unless he has learnt zealously 
to apply the remedy. Well will it be for him who seeks 
mercy and comfort from the Father in Heaven, upon whom 
all our security rests. 



The Seafarer is preserved on fol. 81 f. of the Exeter Book. 
Its origin, date, and authorship are unknown. So diverse, 
both in subject and tone, are the different parts of the poem 
that the majority of scholars have come to the conclusion 
that it cannot have been the work of one author^ In its 
original form it is generally believed to have ended at 1. 64. 
What follows (from 1. 64 to the end) is thought to have been 
added at a considerably later time by someone whose religious 
zeal was greater than his poetic inspiration. 

In the part of the poem which is by general consent 
ascribed to the original author a different kind of problem is 
presented. There appear at first sight to be inconsistencies 
between one passage and another, e.g. between 1. 33 ff. and 
the preceding narrative. On this ground it has been held by 
many that the first part of the Seafarer was composed as a 
dialogue. This theory was first suggested in 1869 by Rieger- 
who assigned the speeches to an old mariner whose mind is 
full of the hardships of a seafaring life and a young man 
anxious to go to sea. To the old man he assigned 11. 1 — 33 ; 
11. 39—47 ; 11. 53 — 57 ; 11. 72— end. The intervening speeches 
he assigned to the young man. Kluge, Wtilcker, Brandl, 
Sieper, etc. have accepted Rieger's suggestion that the poem 
contains a dialogue, but hold that the dialogue ceases at 
1. 64^ and comprises two speeches only, 11. 1 — 33 that of an 
old mariner, 11. 33 — 64 that of a youth. 

1 Cf. Kluge, Englische Studien, 1883, p. 322 ff.; ib., 1885, p. 472 £f. ; 
Wiilcker, Grund. z. Gesch. der angelscichs. Litt. (Leipzig, 1885), p. 206 ff.; 
Brandl, Altenglische Literatur, Part i (Strassburg, 1908), p. 979 f. ; Lawrence^ 
Journal of Germanic Philology, Vol. iv, 1902, p. 46011'.; Sieper, Die alten- 
glische Elegie (Strassburg, 1915), p. 183 ff. Exceptions are Rieger, Zeitschrift 
fur deutsche Philologie, Vol. i, p. 330 ff. ; Ten Brink, Geschichte der engli- 
schen Literatur, Vol. i (Strassburg, 1899), p. 80 ; Ehrismann, ' Eeligionsge- 
schichtliche beitrage zum germanischen friibchristentum,' Beitrdge zur Gesch.. 
der detit. Sprache und Lit. Vol. 35, 1909, p. 213 ; Scbiicking, Kleines angel- 
sdchsisches Dichterhuch (Cotbeu, 1919), p. 6f. 

2 Zeitschr. /. d. Philol. Vol. i, p. 330. Cf. Honncber, Anglia, Vol. ix, 
p. 435 ff. 

3 So most scholars. It is not quite clear to me whether Kluge understand& 
the second speech to end at 1. 64 or 1. 66. 


A yet more complicated analysis, which affects the 
Wande7'er also, has been attempted by Boer^ According to 
his view the Wanderer and the Seafarer together contain 
the remains of three old poems which have been disintegrated 
and brought together in a new form. This theory has been 
criticised at length by W. W. Lawrence'^ who thinks that 
there is 'no reason to assume that the Wandei-er and the 
Seafarer are not preserved in essentially their original form 
with the exception of a homiletic addition to the latter 
poem' (i.e. 11. 103 — 124). He rejects the dialogue theory 
entirely, but admits with some doubt that the Christian 
elements in the body of the poem may be later additions^. 

I think that Lawrence's conclusions are the most reason- 
able that have yet been put forward on this subject. The 
infrequency of the dialogue form as a poetical device in 
Anglo-Saxon poetry should make us hesitate before adopting 
this hypothesis, unless it is supported by strong evidence. 
There is no indication whatever in the text of any change of 
speaker such as we find so clearly indicated in Salomon and 
Saturn and in the Norse dialogue poems* ; and it is surely 
significant that the scholars who hold the dialogue theory 
vary greatly in their views as to the distribution and division 
of the speeches^. The change of view indicated in 1. 33 may 
be merely rhetorical, and its effect on the modern reader is 
exaggerated by the absence of such adversative particles as 
serve in modern languages, as in ancient Greek, to knit con- 
flicting ideas in a logical sequence. 

Attempts have been made® indeed to prove the adversative 
use of for pon which is one of the chief difficulties of the 
poem ; but the only explanation, I think, which covers 

^ Zeitschr. f. deut. Philol. Vol. xxxv, p. 1 ff. 
« Journ. of Germ. Philol. Vol. iv, 1902, p. 460 ff. 

' The dialogue theory is also rejected by Kock in Lunds Universitets Ars- 
tkrift, 1918 ('Jubilee Jaunts and Jottings,' p. 75). 

* Lawrence (op. cit., p. 468) points out that a change of speaker is clearly 
indicated in the Wanderer, 1. 88 f. 

* Cf. Rieger, Zeitschr. /. d. Philol. Vol. i, p. 330 ff. ; Honncher, Anglia, 
Vol. IX, p. 435 ff.; Kluge, Engl. Stud. Vol. vi (1883), p. 322 ff.; Boer, Zeitschr. 
f. d. Philol. Vol. xxxv, p. l-i ff., etc. 

« Cf. Kieger, op. cit., p. 335, note to 1. 27 ; M. Daunt, Modern Language 
Review, Vol. xiii (1918), p. 474 f.; Kock, loc. cit. 

K. 2 


satisfactorily its use in all cases is to take it as a colourless 
adverbial phrase, connecting loosely what goes before with 
what follows, and to translate it by some such expression as 
'I assure thee' or 'assuredly '^ Lawrence takes a similar 
view, though he translates 'in this respect,' which is not very 
suitable for 1. 33. 

It is not however very difficult to trace the sequence of 
thought in the poem in its present form as far as 1. 102. In 
11, 1 — 33 a seafarer describes the hardships which he has 
endured at sea, yet (11. 33 — 64) declares that in spite of such 
hardships he is always longing to set forth again on his 
voyages. At 1. 64 there is certainly a rather awkward transi- 
tion. He appears to argue that in view of the transitoriness 
of human life the best thing that a man can do is to win the 
good opinion of posterity and the joy of Heaven. He con- 
cludes by deploring the departure of the glory of the past 
and the inevitableness of death. 

At 1. 102 there is a marked change in the character of the 
poem. Thorpe suggested ^ that what follows is the work of a 
different author — a view which has been adopted by several 
recent writers. The passage is verbose and lacking in 
coherence, and the sentiments expressed have no obvious con- 
nection with the rest of the poem^ LI. 106 — 10.9 contain 
gnomic utterances which are identical with certain passages 

1 W. W. Lawrence has pointed out (Journ. of Germ. Philol. Vol. iv, 1902, 
p. 463 f.) that in the Lindisfarne and Rushworth glosses on the Gospels 
for f)on is not infrequently used where the corresponding ms. passage has 
soplice or a like word. The earlier meaning of the phrase was probably 
' so far as this is concerned,' which may from the context acquire the mean- 
ing 'in spite of that.' Kock, Lunds TJniversitets Arstskrift, 1918 ('Jubilee 
Jaunts and Jottings,' p. 75), points out that the Norse fyrir pvl sometimes 
has this latter force. See Fritzner, Ordbog over det gamle norske Sprog, Vol. i, 
s.v. fyrir § 22 (e.g. Flateyjarbdk, Vol. ii, p. 187, ' Sofa munu ver fullan 
svefn fyrir J'vi'); hut adversative ideas maybe introduced in Anglo-Saxon 
poetry without any adversative phrases. We may refer e.g. to Beowulf, 1. 478. 

'^ Codex Exoniensis (London, 1842), p. 312, note 1. On the question as to 
the authorship of this latter part, cf. Wiilcker, Grundriss, etc. p. 210 f.; 
Brandl, Gesch. d. altengl. Lit. p. 979 f.; Sieper, Die altengl. Elegie, p. 191. 

3 This last remark may be held also to apply to the concluding lines of the 
Wanderer. In view of the fact that 1. 102 of the Seafarer begins a new folio 
it has been suggested that part of a set of gnomic verses has been attached 
to the poem by a binder's error. Cf. Thorpe, loc. cit.; Lawrence, op. cit. 
p. 471 ; B. C. Williams, Gnomic Poetry in Anglo-Saxon (New York, 1914), 
p. 47 ff. 


in the Exeter Gnomes, and many analogies to the phraseology 
of the entire passage are to be found in religious poems and 
sermons. It is not unlikely that 11. 64 — 102 may have been 
recast at some time, perhaps when the end of the poem 
(from 1. 103) was added. This hypothesis will at all events 
help to account for certain awkward constructions, especially 
in 1. 74 ff., as well as for the rather unnatural transitions of 
thought which occur both here and in 1. 64 ff. Such recasting 
may have been not unusual when secular poems made their 
way into religious houses. It would be possible to trace a 
similar process, though on a smaller scale, in the Wanderer 
and elsewhere. But I doubt if it is possible now to separate 
the later elements or to reconstruct the body of the original 
poem K 

* For the most recent analysis and discussion of the structure of the 
Seafarer, see R. Imelmann, Forschungen zur altenglischen Poesie (Berlin, 
1920), pp. 42 ff., 141 f. 




Maeg ic be me sylfum soSgied wrecan, 

sipSLS secgan, hu ic geswincdagura 

earfoShwile oft )?rowade, 

bitre breostceare gebiden hsebbe, 
5 gecunnad in ceole cearselda fela, 

atol y)?a gewealc, ]>ser mec oft bigeat 

nearo nihtwaco set nacan stefnan, 

]?onne he be clifum cnossaS. Calde geprungen 

wseron mine fet, forste gebunden 
lo caldum clommum, J^ser j^a ceare seofedun 

hat ymb heortan, hungor innan slat 

merewerges mod. pset se mon ne wat, 

pe him on foldan faegrost limpeS, 
" hu ic earmcearig iscealdne sse 
15 winter wunade wrseccan lastum, 

winemsegum bidroren, 

bihongen hrimgicelum : hsegl scurum fleag. 

paer ic ne gehyrde butan hlimman sae, 

iscaldne wseg. Hwilum ylfete song 
20 dyde ic me to gomene, ganetes hleo]?or 

and huilpan sweg fore hleahtor wera, 

msew singende fore medodrince. 

Stormas J?ser stanclifu beotan, J^ser him stearn oncwseS 

isigfe]7era : ful oft pddt earn bigeal 
25 urigfe]7ra. Ngenig hleomaega 

feasceaftig ferS fre/ran^ meahte. 

For J;on him gelyfeS lyt, se pe ati lifes wyn 

gebiden in burgum, bealosij^a hwon, 

wlonc and wingal, hu ic werig oft 
30 in brimlade bidan sceolde ! 

Nap nihtscua, nor);an sniwde, 

hrim hrusan band, hsegl feol on eor]?an, 

1 em. Grein", feran ms. 



I will recite a lay about my own history and recount my 
adventures — how in days of stress I have constantly suffered 
times of hardship. I have endured bitter anguish of heart 
and experienced many anxious moments in my bark through 
the terrible rolling of the waves. A distressing vigil has 
often been my lot at the stern of the ship, when it was dashing 
against the rocks. My feet have been numbed with cold, 
bound with chill fetters of frost, while my heart was beset 
with passionate sighs of distress and my spirit within me was 
torn by hunger — exhausted as I was by my struggle with 
the waves. A man whose blissful lot is cast on land cannot 
realise how I have passed the winter in paths of exile on the 
icy sea, miserable and distraught, deprived of my dear kins- 
men and hung about with icicles, while the hail flew in 
showers. There I heard nothing but the roaring of the sea, 
the icy waves. Sometimes I had the song of the swan for my 
entertainment, the cry of the gannet and the shriek of 
the godwit for the laughter of men, the calling of the mew 
instead of mead-drinking. Storms buffeted the rocky cliffs, 
and the tern with icy plumage gave them answer, and again 
and again the eagle with dripping feathers took up the cry. 
I had no protecting kinsman who could comfort my desolate 
soul. Assuredly one who has spent a happy life in luxury and 
feasting in a great house, free from perilous adventures, can 
hardly believe what exhaustion I have repeatedly suffered on 
my sea-voyages. The shades of night came lowering, snow 
fell from the North, frost bound the land, and hail, coldest of 
grains, fell on the earth. 


coma caldast. For J>oii cnyssat5 nu 

heortan ge)?ohtas ]>set ic hean streamas, 
35 sealtyj?a gelac sylf cunnige. 

MonaS modes lust masla gehwylce 

ferS to feran, pset ic feor heonan 

elj^eodigra eard gesece. 

For ]7on nis ]>aes modwlonc mon ofer eor]?an, 
40 ne his gifena )?ses god, ne in geoguj^e to pses hwset, 

ne in his dsedum to J^ses deor, ne him his dryhten to 

]>SBS hold, 

Jjset he a his ssefore sorge nsebbe, 
- to hwon hine dryhten gedon wille. 

Ne bi)? him to hearpan hyge, ne to hring]>ege, 
45 ne to wife wyn, ne to worulde hyht, 

ne ymbe owiht elles nefne yrab ySa gewealc, 

ac a hafaS longunge se pe on lagu fundaS. 

Bearwas blostmum nimat5, byrig fsegriaS, 

wongas wlitigaS, woruld onetteS : 
50 ealle ]?a gemoniatS modes fusne, 

sefan to siSe J?am ]>e swa ]>ence5. 

On flodwegas feor gewitaj?. 

Swylce geac monaS geomran reorde, 

singes sumeres weard, sorge beodeS 
55 bitter in breosthord. pset se beom ne wat, 

esteadig secg, hwset J>a sume dreogaS, 

]>e J?a wraeclastas widost lecgaS. 

For J?on nu min hyge hweorfeS ofer hre)7erlocan, 

min modsefa mid mereflode 
60 ofer hwgeles e]?el, hweorfeS wide 

eorJ?an sceatas, cyme5 eft to me 

gifre and graedig, gielleS anfloga, 

hweteS on Awselweg^ hre)7er unwearnum 

ofer holma gelagu. For |>on me hatran sind 
65 dryhtnes drearaas J?onne ]?is deade lif, 

laene on londe ; ic gelyfe no 

J>8et him eorSwelan ece stondaS^ 

Simle J^reora sum )?inga gehwylce 
1 em. Thorpe (?hwael-), wmhoeg ms. ^ em. Ettmiiller, stondeff ms. 


But assuredly even now my thoughts are making my 
heart to throb, until of my own accord I shall venture on the 
deep waters, the tossing of the salt waves. At every oppor- 
tunity a yearning impulse incites my heart to set forth and 
seek the land of strangers far away. Assuredly there is no 
man on earth so high-hearted, or so generous, or so full of 
youthful vigour, or so bold in his deeds, or so high in his 
lord's favour, that he can ever be free from anxiety as to what 
is the Lord's purpose with regard to him, when he has to 
travel across the sea. 

His thoughts are not on the harp or the giving of rings, 
he has no pleasure in womankind, nor joy in life, nor 
thought of anything whatever save the tossing waves : for 
there is never any peace of mind for him who goes to sea. 
The houses of the great are beautified by blossoming groves, 
the fields begin to look bright, mankind begins to stir itself; 
all these things urge the heart of a high-spirited man towards 
travel, if he has any inclination thereto. — They set out on 
long journeys over the paths of the sea. — The cuckoo too, 
summer's herald, incites him, calling with plaintive note, and 
cruelly fortells troubles to his heart. A nobleman who lives 
in luxury cannot realise what is endured by many of those 
who travel for and wide on paths of exile. 

Assuredly my thoughts are now soaring beyond my breast; 
along the course of the sea my spirit soars, over the home of 
the whale and throughout the great expanse of earth. Again 
it comes back to me, eager and hungry, screaming on its 
solitary flight. Resistlessly it impels my heart to the road 
of the whale, over the expanse of waters. Assuredly I feel 
more passion for the joys of the Lord than for this lifeless 
and transient existence on land. I do not believe that earth's 
blessings will endure for everTI Always and under all cir- 


ser his tiddege^ to tweon weorj^eS — 
70 adl opj>e yldo oppe ecghete 

fsegum fromwearduna feorh o3)jringeS. 

For )?on ]?ifit eorla gehwam 8eftercwe]?endra, 

lof lifgendra, lastworda betst — 

J?8et he gewyrce, aer he on weg scyle, 
75 fremman on foldan wi5 feonda ni]? 

deorum da^dum deofle togeanes, 

p3et hine aelda beam sefter hergen, 

and his lof si|>]7an lifge mid englum 

awa to ealdre, ecan lifes hlsed^, 
80 dream mid dugej^um ! Dagas sind gewitene, 

ealle onmedlan eorjjan rices ; 

ne aron^ nu cyningas ne caseras 

ne goldgiefan swylce iu waeron, 

]7onne hi msest mid him maerj^a gefremedon 
85 and on dryhtlicestum dome lifdon. 

Gedroren is J?eos duguS eal, dreamas sind gewitene ; 

wuniatJ pa, wacran and )?as Avoruld healda)>, 

brucatS |?urh bisgo. Blaed is gehnseged, 

eorj^an indryhto ealdaS and searatS, 
90 swa nu monna gehwylc geond raiddangeard. 

Yldo him on fareS, onsyn blacaS, 

gomelfeax gnornaS, wat his iuwine, 

sej^elinga beam, eorj^an forgiefene. 

Ne mseg him J?onne se flffischoma, ponne him pset feorg 
95 ne swete forswelgan, ne sar gefelan, 

ne bond onhreran, ne mid hyge |>encan. 

peah he grsef wille golde stregan 

broJ>or his geborenum, byrgan be deadum 

maj?mum mislicum Jjset hine mid wille, 
100 ne mgeg J?a3re sawle, pe bij? synna ful, 

gold to geoce for godes egsan, 

J?onne he hit ser hydeS J^enden he her leofaS. 

Micel hip se meotudes egsa, for J?on hi seo molde on- 

cyrreS ; 
^ em. Grein, tidege ms. - em. Thorpe, blsed ms. '■^ em. Grein, nmron ais. 


cumstances it is matter for uncertainty until the time of its 
occurrence which of these three — sickness or old age or 
violence — will cut off the life of a man when the fated hour 
of his departure comes upon him. 

Assuredly the best of records for every man is the praise 
of those who will live on and speak of him in after days — 
that before he has to depart he should succeed in prevailing 
on earth against the hostility of fiends, encountering the devil 
with daring deeds, so that the children of men may praise him 
in after days, and his fame may endure henceforth with the 
angels for ever and ever — the glory of eternal life, bliss among 
the righteous. 

All the days of splendour of earth's realm are departed. 
There are now no kings or emperors or generous princes such 
as once there were, when they surpassed all their peers in 
glory, and lived in the most lordly splendour. All this chivalry 
has perished. Its joys are departed. A weaker race lingers 
on and possesses this world, living by toil. Glory lies in the 
dust. All that is noble on earth grows aged and fades away 
— just as every man now does throughout the world. Old 
age comes upon him, his face grows pallid ; grey-haired he 
grieves in the knowledge that his friends of old days, the 
scions of princes, have been committed to the earth. While 
his spirit is ebbing his bodily frame cannot relish delicacies, 
nor suffer pain, nor raise the hand, nor think with the brain. 
Though he will spread with gold the grave of his own brother, 
and bury with the dead in treasures of various kinds what he 
wishes to have with him, yet gold, which he has hidden while 
he is still alive here, will not be able to help a soul which is 
sinful, in place of the fear of God. 

Great is the terror of God, for the earth will be transformed. 


se gestaj?elade sti]7e grundas, 
105 eor]7an sceatas and uprodor. 

Dol bij? se ]?e him his dryhten ne ondrasdej?: cymeS him 
se deaS unj^inged. 

Eadig bis se pe eaJ?mod leofaS : cymeS him seo ar of 


Meotod him past mod gestaJ^elaS, for Jjon he in his 
meahte gelyfeS. 

Stieran mon^ sceal strongum mode, and ]?set on sta)7e- 
him healdan — 
1 10 and gewis werum, wisura clsene. 

Scyle monna gehwylc mid gemete healdan 

wi]? leofne lufan^ and wiS \apne bealo, 

J?eah J>e he hine wille fyres fulne, 

oppe on baele forbasrnedne 
lis his geworhtne wine. Wyrd bi]? swid're^ 

meotud meahtigra, J^onne senges monnes gehygd. 

Uton we hycgan hwser we* ham agen, 

and )?onne gepencsm hu we J^ider cumen ; 

and we ]7onne eac tilien J^aet we to moten 
120 in pa ecan eadignesse, 

Jjser is lif gelong in lufan dryhtnes, 

hyht in heofonum ! paes sy J^am halgan J?onc, 

pset he usic geweorj^ade, wuldres ealdor, 

ece dryhten, in ealle tid ! Amen. 

^ em. Thorpe, mod ms. 2 em. Klaeber, om. ms. 

3 em. Grein, sivire ms. •» em. Thorpe, se ms. 


He fixed the immovable depths, the surface of the earth and 
the Heavens above. 

Foolish is he who fears not his Lord : death will come to 
him when he is unprepared. Blessed is he who lives in 
humility: mercy will come to him from Heaven. God will 
stablisli his heart for him, because he has faith in his might. 
A man must control a fierce temper and keep it within bounds. 
He must be true to his pledges, unblemished in his life. 
Every man should use moderation in cherishing love towards 

his friend and hatred towards his foe 

Fate is stronger, 

and God mightier than any man can imagine. Let us consider 
where our home lies and meditate further as to how we may 
reach it ; and let us also further strive that we may attain 
to eternal bliss, where life is to be found in the love of the 
Lord, and joy in Heaven. Thanks be to the holy Prince of 
glory, the everlasting Lord, that he has shown us favour for 
all time ! Amen. 



This poem also is preserved only in the Exeter Book 
(fol. 115 a, 6). It is in the form of a dramatic monologue. 
The speaker has been separated jfrom a dear lord and ordered 
to live in a cavern or grotto under an oak tree, and is con- 
sequently in great distress. The misery of this solitary abode, 
together with uncertainty as to what has become of the lord, 
combine to produce a mood alternating between passionate 
longing and despair. 

Early editors^ assumed that the monologue was that of 
a man. Ettmliller^ was the first to realise the significance of 
the feminine forms in the first two lines. He saw that the 
speaker must be a woman and therefore entitled the poem 
Wreccan Wifes Ged (' The Lay of a Banished Wife '). His 
view has since met with general acceptance^ and the poem 
has become known as ' The Wife's Complaint.' 

There has been much controversy as to whether the 
poem is complete in itself or whether it forms part of a 
longer story. Ten Brink ^ Wtilcker^ Boeder^ and Sieper' 
hold the former view and see no reason to connect it with 
any other poem or story. On the other hand Grein», 

1 Cf. Conybeare, Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry (London, 1826), 
p. 245 ff. ; Thorpe, Codex Exoniemis (London, 1842), p. 441 ff. Thorpe sug- 
gested that minre sylfre siff (L 2) should be emended to minne sylfes sid". 

2 Englu and Seaxna Scopas and Boceras (Quedlinburg, 1850), p. 214 ff. 

3 The only noteworthy exceptions are S. Turner, History of the Anglo- 
Saxons (London, 1852), Vol. iii, p. 290; Taine, Histoire de la Litterature 
anglaise (Paris, 1892), Vol. i, p. 30 f.; and Schiicking (Zeitschrift fiir 
deutsches Alterthum, Vol. xlviii, 1906, p. 446 ff.). The latter, however, appears 
to have recently changed his view; cf. Kleines angelsdchs. Dichterbuch 
(Cothen, 1919), p. 18 f. 

^ Gesch. der engl. Litt.^ Vol. i (Strassburg, 1899), p. 74 (transl. H. M, 
Kennedy, 1883). 

^ Grundriss zur Geschichte der angelsachsischen Litteratur (Leipzig, 1885), 
p. 226. 

« Die Familie bei den Angelsachsen (Halle, 1899), p. 125, note 1. 

7 Die altenglische Elegie (Strassburg, 1915), p. 224. 

8 Grein's first opinion (cf. Bibliothek der angelsachsischen Possie, Gottin- 
gen, 1857, Vol. i, p. 363) was that the Wife's Complaint was connected with 
the Genovefa story ; but he appears to have abandoned this view later (cf. 
Kurzgefasste angelsachsische Grammatik, Kassel, 1880, p. 10) in favour of 
that of a connection between this poem and the Husband's Message, both of 


Hicketier', Traiitmann*, Iniclraann' and Brandl* believe that 
there is a connection between the Wifes Complaint and the 
Husband's Message, though they are not in entire agreement 
as to the details, A third group arc of the opinion that the 
subject of the Wife's Complaint is an incident of some cycle 
of legend such as the Hildebrand story^ the Genovefa cycle", 
the Constantia-Otta cycled or the Crescentia story*. 

It may be observed here that this third view is open to 
some rather serious objections. It is not clear that any of the 
cycles of legend mentioned above were known in England 
during the Saxon period^ except perhaps in the form of folk- 
tales. Again, the absence of proper names causes a difficulty; 
for they are very freely used in the heroic poems which have 
come down to as'". In the whole of Beoiuulf there is only one 
passage' as long as this poem which is without any proper 
name. This pjxssage (1. 2208 ff.) is indeed much longer ; but 

which he regards as having formed part of a larger poem, belonging to the 
eighth century. 

1 Anglia, Vol. xi (1889), pp. 363—368. Hicketier suggests that both the 
Wife's Complaint and the Husband's Message may be Biddies, not, however, 
independent of one another. 

- Anglia, Vol. xvi (1894), p. 222 S. Trautmann believes that the Wife's 
Coviplaint and the Hiisband's Message are works of the same author, and 
indeed that originally they formed parts of the same poem. 

^ Die altenglische Odoaker-Dichtung (Berlin, 1907). Imelmann regards 
the first Riddle of the Exeter Book, the Wife's Complaint and the Husband's 
Message as a trilogy, and attempts to connect them with the Odoacer story. 
He reads the Kuuic letters in the Husband's Message, 11. 35, 36, as forming 
the name Eadwaccr, which is found in the Riddle. Of. also Forschungen zur 
altenglischen Poesie (Berhn, 1920), p. 174. 

•* Geschichte der altenglischen Ltf<;ra«ur;(Strassburg, 1908), p. 977. 

^ Conybeare, Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry (London, 1826), p. 245, 
n. 1. 

* Grein, Bibl. d. angelsachs. Foes. Vol. i, p. 363. 

7 Cf. Wiilcker, Grundr. zur Gesch. der angelsachs. Litt. p. 226 ; this is 
however merely a counter-suggestion to the Genovefa cycle, and does not 
represent Wiilcker's opinion. It is offered as a serious solution to the pro- 
blem however by Edith Kickert {Modern Philoloqy, Vol. ii, 1905, p. 365 ff.) 
and by W. W. Lawrence (ib. Vol. v, 1908, p. 387 ff.). 

>* StefanoviS, Anglia, Vol. xxxii, 1909, p. 399 ff. StefanoviC's suggestion has 
been adopted by Schiicking; cf. Kleines angelsdchsisches Dichterbuch (Cothen, 
1919), p. ISf. 

'' The story of Off a was of course well known, but it would seem from 
Beowulf that the original story of Offa's marriage was that which was 
attached to Offa II in the ' Lives,' and not the (Coustantia) story which was 
associated with Offa I. 

'° Cf. also the so-called ' First Riddle' which is a shorter poem, and which, 
except for the occurrence of the proper names, is in many respects com- 
parable to the Wife's Complaint. 


it must be regarded as altogether exceptional. On the other 
hand it is clear from the other poems contained in this book 
that the nameless, timeless type of poetry was popular. No 
one will suggest that the Wanderer or the Seafarer is to be 
connected with any cycles of legend. 

In the poem itself there are several points which are 
not quite clear. Why has the speaker been ordered to live 
under an oak, and what is the nature of her abode there ? 
According to Wtilcker^ she has been sent there as a punish- 
ment ; but Trautmann^ and others hold that it is a place of 
sanctuary. The situation would no doubt be clear enough to 
an audience familiar with the traditions of early — pre- 
sumably heathen — times ; and in the notes some evidence 
which tends to support the latter view is quoted from certain 
passages in early Norse literature. 

Again, there is a curious difference of opinion as to the 
number of principal characters in the story. Several scholars 
hold that the man Avhose character is sketched in 1. 18 ff. is 
a different person from the speaker's ' lord ' or husband, and 
that it is through the former — perhaps one of the magas^ 
mentioned in 1. 11 and the villain of the piece — that her 
distressing situation has been brought about. It is chiefly 
through this hypothesis that attempts have been made to 
bring the poem into connection with various cycles of story. 

The hypothesis however involves some serious difficulties. 
In 1. 42 ff. there is clearly a reference to the same man who 
is mentioned in 1. 18 ff. If this is not the speaker's ' lord ' we 
must postulate in both cases an abrupt and unnatural transition ; 
for there can be no doubt that the lord is the person indicated 
in both of the passages immediately following these (11. 47 ff. 
and 21 ff.). Again, according to this hypothesis, the commands 
mentioned in 11. 15 and 27 must be different and due to 
different persons ; while 11. 24 ff. lose the antithetical force 
which seems to be implied both by the individual words 

^ Grundr. zur Gesch. der aiigclsiichs. Litt. p. 226. 

2 Anglia, Vol. xvi (1894), p. 223. 

^ Cf. Grein, Dichtungen der Amjelsachsen (Cassel, 1863), Vol. ii, p. 256, 
footnote; Boeder, Die Familie bei den Angelsachsen, p. 114; Brandl, Gesch. 
d. altengl. Lit. (Strassburg, 1908), p. 977. 


{/reondscipe, fela leaf an, fii'h&u) and by the passage as 
a whole. 

On the other hand all these passages may be taken as 
referring to the * lord ' ; and this explanation is favoured by 
the fact that an estrangement on his part is clearly indicated 
in 1. 23 ff. In this case there will be no need to assume the 
existence of a third character. 

It is perhaps an ambitious attempt to portray excited 
feelings which causes the difficulty of the poem. The asyndetic 
and not altogether logical sequence of thought, the absence 
of metrical form in 1. 24, and the involved construction in 
1. 42 ff. may possibly all be ascribed to this cause. There is 
no need, I think, to assume any serious corruption of the text. 



Ic ]?is giedd wrece bi me ful geomorre, 
minre sylfre siS ; ic J?set secgan maeg 
hwset ic yrm)>a gebad siJ^J^an ic up weox 
niwes o]>]fe ealdes, no ma j^onne nu : 
5 a ic wite wonn minra wrsecsi)?a ! 
yErest min hlaford gewat heonan of leodum 
ofer yj7a gelac. Heefde ic uhtceare 
hwser min leodfruma londes wj3ere. 
Da ic me feran gewat folgaS secan, 

lo wineleas wraecca, for minre weaj^earfe. 
Ongunnon )?aet ]7ses monnes magas hycgan 
)?urh dyrne ge]?oht past hy tod^lden unc, 
]7set wit gewidost in woruldrice 
lifdon la?5licost, and mec longade. 

1 5 Het mec hlaford min her heard niman. 
Ahte ic leofra lyt on |?issum londstede, 
holdra freonda ; for )?on is min hyge geomor, 
Sa ic me ful gemsecne monnan funde, 
heardsseligne, hygegeomorne, 

2o mod mij?endne, morj^or hycgende 
bliJ7e gebsero. Ful oft wit beotedan 
]>set unc ne gedselde nemne deat5 ana 
owiht elles. Eft is J^set onhworfen ; 
is nu ' • • swa hit no wgere 

25 freondscipe uncer ! SceaP ic feor ge neah 
mines fela leofan fsehtSu dreogan. 
Heht mec mon wunian on wuda bearwe, 
under actreo in J>am eorSscrsefe. 
Eald is J^es eorSsele, eal ic eom oflongad ; 

30 sindon dena dimme, duna uphea, 
bitre burgtunas, brerum beweaxne, 
wic wynna leas. Ful oft mec her wraj?e begeat 
1 em. Thorpe, Seal ms. 



In this poem I will give an account of my overwhelming 
Troubles and describe the plight in which I find myself. I 
will tell what hardships I have endured since I grew up, 
both recently and long ago, but never more than now. I have 
suffered ceaseless torment from my misfortunes. 

To begin with, my lord went away from his people here 
over the restless waves. In the morning twilight I have 
wondered anxiously in what part of the world my lord could 
be. Then I set out on my way, friendless and homeless, to 
seek for support in my sore need. 

The man's relatives had secretly cast about as to how they 
might separate us, so that we might live as far apart in the 
world as possible and on the worst of terms ; and I was sick 
at heart. * My lord in his cruelty ordered me to be brought 
here. In this place I had no dear or loyal friends. Truly my 
heart is troubled since I have found a man fully suited to me, 
oppressed by ill fortune and troubled in heart — disguising his 
feelings under an unruffled demeanour while intending a deed 
of cruelty. Again and again we had vowed that nothing but 
death alone should part us. Now all that is passed away, and 
our love is as though it had never been. Everywhere I shall 
have to suffer the hostility of him who is very dear to me. 

I have been ordered to make my dwelling in a forest grove 
in this cavern beneath an oak-tree. \This is an underground 
dwelling made long ago, and I am altogether heart-broken. 
Gloomy are its depths, and the heights tower up above. 
Cruel are the barriers of my citadel, overgrown with thorns. 
It is a joyless dwelling. Many are the times that the thought 

K. 3 


fromsij? frean. Frynd sind on eorj^an 

leofe lifgende, leger weardiaS, 
35 ]Jonne ic on uhtan ana gonge 

under actreo geond ]?as eorSscrafu ! 

paer ic sitta^i^ mot sumorlangne dseg, 

)?8er ic wepan mseg mine wrsecsij^as, 

earfoJ>a fela. For |7on ic aefre ne mseg 
40 J?8ere modceare minre gerestan, 

ne ealles jfass longa|?es pe mec on ]?issum life begeat. 
^ A scyle geong mon wesan geomormod, 

heard heortan gej^oht, swylce habban sceal 

bli)je gebsero, eac |?on breostceare, 
45 sinsorgna gedreag — s}' cet him sylfum gelong 

eal his worulde wyn, sy ful wide fah 

feorres folclondes past min freond siteS 

under stanhli)?e, storme behrimed, 

wine werigmod, wsetre beflowen 
50 on dreorsele. DreogetS se min wine 

micle modceare ; he gemon to oft 

wynlicran wic. Wa biS |?am ]>e sceal 

of langope leofes abidan ! 

1 em. Conybeare, sittam ms. 


of my lord's departure has taken cruel hold of me while I have 
been here. Lovers there are on earth living in affection and 
resting in their beds, while all alone before the dawn I pace 
the round of these caverns beneath the oak-tree. Here I 
shall have to sit through the long summer day ; here I shall 
have to weep over my misfortunes and my many hardships. 
Assuredly I shall never be able to get any rest from my 
distress nor from all the heart-ache which has come upon 
me in my life here. 

The young man can never cease to be troubled in spirit. 
Bitter must be the reflections of his heart; but he must also 
have an unruffled demeanour, though along with it grief of 
soul and a host of constant anxieties — whether all the joy 
that the world can give him be to his hand, or whether it be 
that, hunted by hostility throughout the length and breadth 
of a far country, my lover is sitting beneath some rampart 
of rock exposed to tempest and frost — my dear one broken- 
hearted, in a gloomy dwelling with water flowing round him. 
Great misery of heart is that dear one of mine suffering ; 
very often he remembers a happier abode. Sad is the lot of 
those who have to wait with an aching heart for them whom 
they love. 




The Husband's Message is preserved on fol. 123 a-6 of the 
Exeter Book. It is preceded by one or more riddles, and 
the opinions of scholars have varied greatly as to the exact 
point at which The Husband's Message actually begins. 
It would seem at first sight that the scribe of the Exeter Book 
himself recognised four distinct pieces between the end of 
the piece which Thorpe called Maxims (fol. 122 6) and the 
beginning of the Ruin (fol. 123 6). Each of these pieces 
begins with a large initial letter^ and ends with the mark 
indicating the conclusion. These four pieces will be referred 
to in the following passages as units A, B, C, and D respec- 
tively, for the sake of convenience. 

Thorpe-, in his edition of the Exeter Book, followed the 
MS. and printed each piece as a separate unit. He regarded 
the first three as Riddles, the fourth (beginning with the 
words Hwset pec ponne, etc.) he called A Fragment. 

That the first piece (A) is a riddle there has never been 
any serious doubt. It occurs also on fol. 108 of the Exeter 
Book among a collection of Riddles, and is generally printed 
by editors as * Riddle 31.' 

Grein' was the first to suggest that the third and fourth 
pieces (C, D) really formed one unit (CD) which he called 
Botschaft des Gemahls an seine Frau ('The Husband's 
Message to his Wife ') — a suggestion which has since met 
with general approval. 

In 1887 Strobl put forward the view* that the second 

1 Larfie initials seldom occur elsewhere in the ms. except at the beginning 
of a poem. It is to be observed, however, that another instance occurs in D 
1. 14 {Oiigin) — here also preceded by the 'conclusion' mark — where the 
scribe can hardly have thought of the beginning of a new piece. 

- Codex Exonieiisis (London, 1842), p. 470 ff. Cf. also Klipstein, Analecta 
Anglo-Saxonica (New York, 1849), Vol. ii, p. 322 f.; Ettmiiller, Eiif/la and 
Seaxna Scopas and Boceras (Quedlinburg, etc. 1850), p. 202 f. 

3 Bibliothek der angelsachsischen Poesie (Gottingen, 1857), Vol. i, pp. 246 f., 
363 f. 

* Zeitschr.f. deut. Altcrthum, Vol. xxxi, p. 55. 


piece (B), though evidently of the nature of a riddle, was 
not unconnected with the following piece (i.e. CD, now 
recognised as one) — which indeed seemed to him to contain 
the answer to it. This view was opposed in 1889 by 
Hicketier^ who held that Strobl had misinterpreted B, and 
suggested on the contrary that the unit CD might itself be a 

In 1900 the question of the relationship of B to the 
unit CD was reopened by Blackburn'-, who argued that B 
(now generally known as 'Riddle 61') was not a riddle at all, 
but a part of the unit CD which had been detached from 
the rest of the poem by the scribe. Blackburn bases his 
theory mainly on four points, viz. : (1) B does not present a 
distinct riddle form. The descriptive element is present, but 
we do not find the contradictory statements so essential to 
this type of riddle ; (2) the solutions to this ' riddle ' hitherto 
suggested^ are unsatisfactory. The object speaking is plainly 
a letter; (3) what follows in the MS. is also the utterance 
of a letter ; (4) if the three poems (i.e. B, C, D) are read 
consecutively the result is clearly a unity. 

Blackburn's theory has not been allowed to pass un- 
challenged. Tupper admits that his suggestion is ' pretty 
and ingenious,' but holds that it ignores a very real relation 
between Riddle 61 {Exeter Book) and Riddle 2 (the 'Reed') 
of Symphosius^ He makes no comment on Blackburn's 

^ Anglia, Vol. xi (1889), p. 363 f. 

- Journal of Germanic Philology, Vol. iii (1900), p. 1 ff. 
3 Dietrich {Zeitschr. f. dent. Alterthum, Vol. xi, p. 4.52 f.) suggested 'A 
reed'; Trautmann {Anglia, Vol. xvi, p. 219) 'A Eune-staff.' Trautmann 
urged that the fact that the solution to Riddle 61 was a 'rune-staff' was 
sufficient reason for a scribe placing immediately after it a poem in which 
the speaker is also a rune-staff. 

* Cf. Mod. Lang. Notes, Vol. xviii (1903), pp. 98, 99 ; The Riddles of the 
Exeter Book (Boston, 1910), pp. 198, 199. The close correspondence between 
these two ' Riddles ' had been previously indicated in parallel columns by 
Dietrich (loc. cit.). He gives the text of Riddle no. 2 of Symphosius as 
follows : 

Dulcis amica dei, 
semper* vicina profundist, 
suave canens musis, 
nigro perfusa colore ; 
nuntia sum linguae, 
digitis signataj magistri. 
* ripae, Tupper. f profundae, id. X stipata, id. 


fii-st argument, but states that Symphosius' ' Reed ' problem 
is a popular one in the folk-literature of several languages. 

Sieper is also of the opinion' that Blackburn's arguments 
will not admit of a critical examination. He points out 
that the contradictory or antithetical form is not essential 
to the riddle, and that Blackburn's second argument has no 
bearing on the point at issue. He adheres to the old view 
that B is a riddle, and on grounds of technique etc. regards 
the unit CD as a Klage, complete in itself In his opinion, 
moreover, the speaker is a messenger, only the runes being 
graven on the heaTn ; and it is to be noted that in regard to 
the last point his view is shared also by Imelmann'* and 

The position appears to me to be this. The evidence 
which Tupper adduces for the popularity of the Arundo 
Riddle is for the most part late, and therefore has little 
bearing on our problem ; but it is not to be denied that the 
phrasing of the riddle shows a curious resemblance to the 
A.S. unit B. Again, the description at the beginning of the 
latter seems more appropriate to a reed than to any kind of 
tree which could serve for a message stick ; and the same 
may perhaps be said of 1. 9, though this point can hardly be 
pressed, as the verse is metrically defective. Even if Black- 
bum's view is correct, is it really quite impossible that the 
poet should have been influenced by the riddle of Sym- 
phosius or an A.S. riddle based upon it ? The closing lines 
of B certainly connect very well with the beginning of 
C, and moreover it has been pointed out* that the per- 
sonal address in 1. 14 of B is contrary to the usage of A.S. 
riddles. But if we regard B as a unit, does it therefore 
follow that it is a riddle ? Inanimate objects are represented 
not infrequently in Anglo-Saxon as speaking in their own 
person (e.g. the cross in the Dream of the Rood, the Alfred 
Jewel, and the sundial at Kirkdale Church), a convention 
which may have some connection with riddle literature. 

' Die altenglische Elegie (Strassbur^, 1915), p. 211. 
' Forschungen zur altengluchcn Poesie (Berlin, 1920), p. 152. 
' Kleines angehriduisches Dichterbuch (Cotben, 1919), p. 23. 
* Cf. Wyatt, Old English Biddies (London, 1912), p. 109. 


Several scholars^ have called attention to the similarity of 
unit D to a riddle, and if we assume that the slip of wood 
is the speaker-, the analogy is undeniable; but the whole 
poem reads quite naturally as the speech of a messenger 
who is delivering to his lady his credentials or some other 
token, graven in runes on a slip of wood. 

On the whole the evidence does not seem to me to be 
sufficiently decisive to admit of a positive answer to the 
questions that have been raised. The view put forward 
by Blackburn is not in itself improbable. On the other 
hand it appears to me at least equally probable that the 
compiler of the Exeter Book, or the collector whose text 
he was copying, may have been prompted to group these 
poems together by the similarity of their theme ; and 
this suggestion is somewhat favoured by the fact of the 
reintroduction at this point of unit A*, which has been 
interpreted by Blackburn and others as a beam (' tree,' 
'cross,' etc.). 

The question as to whether this poem is connected with 
the Wife's Complaint has been much debated. There is no 
indication that the scribe of the Exeter Book recognised any 
connection between the two poems. They are separated by 
seven folios. But it has been urged by many scholars that 
the two poems seem to point to very similar situations*. 
In both cases the man has left his wife or sweetheart 
suddenly and fled across the sea. In both cases there is a 
reference to some trouble which has caused his precipitate 
flight. In the Wife's Complaint this cause is not made clear. 
In the Husband's Message, however, it is explained as a 
vendetta. In both cases again we have references to vows 
of loyalty exchanged between the man and woman and to 
the longing which the speaker in each poem confesses. 

1 E.g. Brandl, Geschichte der altenglischen Literatur (Strassburg, 1908), 
p. 977. 

^ Cf . the poem (printed as prose) contained in King Alfred's translation of 
Gregory's Cura PaHtoralis (ed. Sweet, E.E.T.S., p. 8). 

3 Blackburn, in order to explain the fact that unit A occurs twice in the 
Exeter Book, suggests that the scribe may have had two ms. collections of 
poems before him, each of which contained the riddle. There are con- 
siderable variations in the texts of the two versions. 

•* Cf. Introduction to the Wife's Complaint, p. 28 f., above. 


Posisibly also tlio WiXxU'd hillside of the Message may be a 
reminiscence of the irrove and hills of the Complaint. 

On the other hand an equally strong body of opinion 
•contends that these similarities are inconclusive, and that 
the situation depicted in the Wifes Complaint may have 
been a not infrequent one in disturbed times. Schiicking* 
thinks it probable that the Husband's Message, like the 
Complaint, may have been taken from some longer story as 
yet unidentified, while Schofield^ connects it with the lay 
of Gotelef. Wiilcker^ and others* hold the view that the 
situation depicted in the two poems is not the same — that 
in the Wifes Complaint there has been a quarrel between 
wife and husband. This interpretation is based on the 
iissumption that 11. 42 ff. of the latter poem refer not to the 
husband but to a third person — an assumption which seems 
to me unnecessary and probably erroneous (cf. the Intro- 
duction to the Wife's Complaint, p. 30 f. above). Even this 
interpretation, however, does not necessarily preclude the 
possibility of a connection between the two poems ; for the 
passage in question, like the suggestion in 1. 11 ff. of trouble 
made by the relatives, may mean no more than a supposition 
on the part of the deserted wife as to the reason for her 
husband's behaviour. 

It has been pointed out above'' that the style and tone of 
the two poems are wholly different, in spite of certain 
similarities of diction", the one being involved, excited and 
desperate, while the other is simple in style and serene in 

J Kleines anrjehnchsisches Dichterhuch (Cothen, 1919), p. 2.3 f. 

- English Literature from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer (London, 1906), 
p. 201 f. 

- (Irundr. zitr Gesch. tier angelsaclis. Litt. (Leipzig, 1885), p. 227. 
« Cf. Introduction to the Wife's Complaint, p. 28, above. 

•'' Cf. Introduction to the Wife's Complaint, p. 31. 

6 Trautmann points out [Anglia, Vol. xvi, 1894, p. 224 f.) the similarity 
between tlie following passages : 

Wife's Complaint, 1. 21 ful oft wit beotedan ; Husband's Message, D, 1. 3 
tcordbeotung(a), 1. 2ij eald gebeot. 

Wife's Complaint, 1. 34 leger weardia'S ; Husband's Message, D, 1. eard 

Wife's Complaint, 1. 18 monnan funde; Husband's Message, D, 1. 10 monnan 
find est. 

The correspondence however may very well be due to the conventional 
nature of Anglo-Saxon poetic diction. Cf. Introduction to the Wanderer, 
p. 2ff., above. 


tone. This argument, however, would only indicate a differ- 
ence in origin for the poems if we assume that at that time 
no poet existed capable of adapting his style to the moods 
of his characters. This, after all, is an assumption which 
cannot be proved. It has been pointed out^ that there is 
a suggestion of incompleteness about the Wife's Complaint, 
and the proposal that the Husband's Message contains the 
sequel to it certainly tends to produce a richer and more 
dramatic situation. It is, however, of the nature of con- 
jecture, even though, like the suggestions of Grein and 
Blackburn, containing nothing inherently improbable; and 
in my opinion it is wisest to suspend judgment on this 
question also, so long as the origin and history of both poems 
remain wholly obscure. 

Many attempts have been made to interpret the runic 
passage at the close of the poem. One line of enquiry has 
led to the suggestion that the runes make up a name, or 
the names of the characters referred to in the story. In 
this case the runes might stand for the letters Avhich go to 
form such a name, or they might each stand for the initial 
letter of five different names'^; or again the name of each 
rune might form a constituent syllable of two or more 

A second suggestion is that the runes denote not a person 
or persons, but the objects symbolised by the letters. In 
this case it would seem that the letters do not all possess 
here the value given to them in the runic alphabet. It is 
not easy to see how EA, which seems to mean ' earth,' or 
' grave,' would be appropriate in this connection. 

None of the suggested interpretations are satisfactory. 

1 Cf. p. 28f., above. 

"^ One might be tempted to suggest that they may possibly stand for the 
initial letters of the names of five separate oath- helpers who took part in the 
cyre-aS, especially as five are stated to have been the number nominated for 
the plaintiff in the Laws of jEthelstan, ii, 9. But the cyre-aS is again a 
mere suggestion, involving us in a distorted syntax which casts grave doubts 
on its value. 

^ For suggested interpretations, cf. Hicketier, Anglia, Vol. xr (1889), 
p. 363 ff.; Trautmann, ib. Vol. xvi (1894), p. 219 ff. ; Blackburn, Jourii. of 
Germ. Philol. Vol. iii (1900), p. 11, note on this passage; Imelmann, 
Die altenglische Odoaker-Dichtung, p. 40 ; Forsch. z. altengl. Poesie, p. 163 ff.; 
Sieper, Die altenglische Elegie (Strassburg, 1915), p. 213 f., etc. 


Sieper's suggestion that the runes possess magical signi- 
ficance is unsupported by any analogy in Anglo-Saxon, and 
even the example cited from Norse (Bosa Saga ok HerrauiSs, 
eh. 5) is hardly a parallel. On the other hand five runes are 
hardly enough in themselves to spell an Anglo-Saxon proper 

It has been mentioned above ^ that the texts of the 
Husband's Message and the Ruin have been badly damaged 
by an accident to the MS. Attempts have been made to 
supply the lacunae in the text of the former'^; but my 
examination and measurements of the MS. and the British 
Museum transcript^ have led me to the conclusion that 
these attempts are in many cases impossible — a view which 
is, I see, corroborated by the measurements of Sieper^ I 
have printed only what I have been able to read in the MS. 
or in the British Museum transcript. Letters supplied from 
the latter, and incomplete portions of letters big enough to 
be identified in either MS. or transcript, have been printed in 
italics. In the damaged portions of the text the lines (printed 
in small type) correspond to the lines of the MS. For the 
greater part of these passages I have not attempted a 

' Cf. p. xii. 

- Cf. Klase, An(jelsnchsische$ Lesebuch (Halle, 1902), p. 147 f. ; Blackburn, 
Journ. of Genu. Philol. Vol. in (1900), p. 8f. 

3 On the latter see Tupper, The Eiddles of the Exeter Book (Boston, etc., 
1910), p. xcvii ; Anglia, Vol. xxxvi, p. 286 f.; Chambers, ib. Vol. xxxv, p. 398 f. 
The value of the transcript seems to me to lie less in any positive additions 
to the text than in the provision of a check upon proposed restorations. 

■• Die altenglische Elegie, p. 134 ff. (footnotes). 




Ic wses be sonde, ssewealle neah, 
set merefaro]>e, minum gewunade 
frumsta]>ole faest ; fea senig wees 
monna cynnes ]>set minne ]7aer 
5 on anaede eard beheolde, 
ac mec uhtna gehwam yS sio brune 
lagufaeSme beleolc. Lyt ic wende 
]?8et ic ser o\>]>e siS sefre sceolde 
ofer meodu muSleas sprecan, 

lo worduni wrixlan. pset is wundres dsel 
on sefan searolic ])am pe swylc ne conn, 
hu mec seaxes^ ord ond seo swi]?re bond, 
eorles inge]?onc ond ord somod, 
)>ingum ge)?ydan, pset ic wip pe sceolde 

15 for unc anum twam- terendspraece 
abeodan bealdlice, swa hit beorna ma, 
uncre wordcwidas widdor ne msenden. 


I Nu ic onsundran l)e seegan 
II ic tudre aweox in mec aeld 

III londes settaw 

IV sa 


treo cyn 
. . . sceal ellor 
. e sealte streamas^ 
(S)-* ful oft ic on bates 

V gesohte \)seY mec mon dryhten min 

VI . . . ofer^ heali hofu'^. 

Eom nu her cumen 
on ceolpele, and nu cunnan scealt 
hu ]7u ymb modlufan mines frean 
(10) on hyge hycge, Ic gehatan dear 
5 J>£et pxi J?ser tirfseste treowe findest. 

1 So edd., seaxeff ms. - So edd., ticaji ms. 

3 Complete in B.M. 

■* The bracketed numbers are those which appear in most other editions 
and in references to the Husband's Message in the dictionaries. 

^ From this point to 1. 20 below my lines do not correspond to the lines of 
the MS. In the ms. 1. vi ends with ')>ele' and 1. 7 with 'on.' 



Once I was on the sea-shore, by the sands, near the clififs, 
and dwelt firmly rooted in ray original home. Very few human 
beings were there who looked upon my dwelling-place in that 
solitary waste, but each dawn the dark wave of the sea em- 
braced and played around me. Little did I think that I should 
ever at any time in my life speak and hold discourse over the 
mead, mouthless as I am. It is a great marvel, wonderful to 
the minds of those who are ignorant of such things — how the 
point of a knife and the right hand of a knight — his ingenuity 
and the point together — laid violent hands upon me... so that 
it has fallen to my lot to announce to thee boldly a message 
in thy presence and mine alone, in such a way that no other 
men may publish abroad our conversation. 


...Now I have come here on shipboard, and now thou shalt 
learn what to think in thy mind of the heart's love of my lord. 
I dare promise that thou wilt find noble loyalty in him. 



Hwset ! pec J)onne biddan het se ]?isne beam agi'of 
)?9Bt )?u sinchroden sylf gemunde 
on gewitlocan wordbeotunga 
(15) J^e git on serdagum oft gespraBCon 
5 J^enden git moston on meoduburgum 
eard weardigan, an lond bugan, 
freondscype fremman. Hine fsehj^o adraf 
of sige]?eode. Heht nu sylfa pe 
(2o)lustum Iseran^ j^set ]?u lagu drefde, 
10 si)?J?an J^u gehyrde on hli]?es oran 
galan geomorne geac on bearvve. 
Ne Iset pn pec si]7|?an sipes getwsefan, 
lade gelettan lifgendne monn. 
(25) Ongin mere secan, meewes epe\. 
15 Onsite ssenacan, pgst ]7U suS heonan 
ofer merelade monnan findest, 
pser se J?eoden is ]?in on wenuni. 
Ne maeg him . . n- worulde willa... 
(30) mara on gemyndum, ]?a?s pe he me ssegde, 
2oJ?onne inc geunne al-* 

XIII waldend god . . set somne si|)J)an motan secgum 7 

XIV gesi])um s . . . «tlede 6eagas he genoh ha 

XV fa« (35) ffdan go^ ed el })eode e 

XVI >el healde faegre folda 

XVII ra hseletia t)eah ]>e her min wine 

XVIII nyde gebaeded nacan ut a})rong (40) 7 on y])a geong . . 
XIX sceolde faran on flot weg fort5 sij^es georn* 

mengan merestreamas. Nu se mon hafaS 
wean oferwunnen ; nis him wilna gad 
ne meara ne maSma ne meododreama, 
(45) senges ofer eorpan eorlgestreona 

1 em. Thorpe, Imram ms. 

- The MS. has a space of 2-7 cm. between him and woruJde. The outline 
of n is traceable on the vellum. 

3 From this point my Unes correspond to those of the ms. 

* From this point again my lines do not correspond to those of the ms. 
1. XIX ends in the ms. with mengan me. 



Hearken nioroovor ' He who inscribed this rod has bidden 
me ask thee, lady, to remember in thy own heart the vows 
to which thou and he often pledged yourselves in former 
days when ye were still able to live at home in the ban- 
queting halls, dwelling in the same land and indulging your 
affection. He was driven by vendetta from his glorious land. 
Now the same man has joyfully commanded me to exhort 
thee to betake thyself to the sea, as soon as thou hearest the 
plaintive cuckoo calling in the wood on the hillside. There- 
after let no living man deter thee from thy journey, nor hinder 
thy voyage. Make thy way to the deep, the seamew's home. 
Seat thyself in a bark and then southward from here over the 
ocean-path thou wilt find where thy princely lover is awaiting 
thee. No greater joy in the world can he conceive of — so he 
told me — than that God Almighty should grant that hence- 
forth ye shall be able [to dwell] together.... 

(xvii)... though here my dear lord, forced by necessity, 
launched his vessel and had to... over the course of the waves, 
setting forth upon the highroad of the deep, stirring the 
waters of the sea in his eagerness to escape. Now the man 
has overcome his troubles. He has no lack of luxuries — of 
steeds, or jewels, or of the joys of good living, or any 
possessions on earth such as nobles have. 



25 peodnes dohtor! 
ofer eald gebeot 
gecyre ic setsorane 
EA. W. and D, 
(50) ]?get he pa, waere 
30 be him lifgendum 
pe git on ferdagum 

gif he J>in beneah, 
incer twega, 

S. R. geador, 
ape benemnan 
and |?a winetreowe 

Isestan wolde 
oft gespraecon^ 

em. Thorpe, gespraeconn ms. 


O Princess ! If he shall gain thee, in addition to the vows 
made by you both in the past I would nominate S, R, EA, 
W, and D all together to declare or^ oath that as long as he 
lives he will observe the covenant and bond of affection to 
which ye frequently pledged yourselves in the past. 



The Ruin is found on fol. 123 6-124 6 of the Exeter Book, 
where it follows immediately upon the Husband's Message. 
The burn which destroyed much of the text of the latter has 
done even greater damage to the Ruin, so that many lines are 
lost, A word or a letter can be restored here and there from 
(? Robert) Chambers's transcript', but not enough to add 
materially to our knowledge of the poem. 

The subject is a ruin or group of ruins — evidently stone 
buildings of the Roman period, though the life depicted is 
that of a Saxon prince's residence, such as would be familiar 
to the author. In the opening lines he dwells on the scene 
of desolation before him. Then (1. ix) comes the first place 
where the MS. is damaged. When it again becomes legible the 
poet is calling up a picture of the splendours of a wealthy 
court and all the riches which it had contained — a description 
which is interrupted in 11. 17 to 24 by a brief account of how 
the place came into its present ruinous condition. After 1. 33 
the MS. again becomes illegible. The result of the whole is to 
leave on the mind of the reader a contrast between the present 
condition of the place and its former splendour as seen through 
Saxon eyes. 

In many respects the Ruin recalls the latter half of the 
Wanderer^ — a resemblance which is partly due to the simi- 
larity of the subject ; but it differs from the Wanderer in that 
the reflections are not represented here as being spoken. In- 
deed the impersonal character of the poem, and especially the 
opening lines, have led at least one writer^ to regard it as a 
riddle. It also resembles the same part of the Wanderer in 
being highly rhetorical and studied in style. On the other 
hand it has certain features which dififerentiate it from all the 

* Cf. F. Tupper, in Anglia, Vol. xxxvi, p. 287 f. ; cf . also pp. xi and 43 above. 

* Cf. Introduction to the Wmiderer, p. 4, above. 

' E.g. Hicketier, Anf/lia, Vol. xi, p. 3(36 f. Cf. also Introduction to the 
Husband' .1 Messa<ie, p. .38, above. 



other poems in this book, e.g. the rhymes combined with 
[parallelism of ideas in 11. 5 scorene, gedrorene ; 7 forweorone, 
geleorone; 32 tveal,eall; 24 wow^r ^ecro/i^r and perhaps 11 steap, 
geap ; and in the individual character of its vocabulary. There 
are a considerable number of air. \ey. and unusual compounds 
such as 7 waldend-wyrhtan ; 23 teaforgeapa ; 24 hrostheag ; 
and probably 8 heardgripe. 

The majority of early scholars, e.g. Conybeare\ Leo-, Earle^ 
and Wulcker^ regarded the Ruin as referring to a town, 
whereas Ettmiiller', Grein'', Sweef^ and others were of opinion 
that the description was more appropriate to a fortress. The 
references to stone walls, together with other details (burg- 
stede, torras, luig steal, etc.), seem to point to fortifications. On 
the other hand it is not without significance that Earle and 
Leo came independently to the conclusion that the scene of 
the ruin must be Bath, — an identification which has been 
accepted by Wiilcker and most subsequent writers, including 
Sieper^ and Schlicking^ The reference to haj)u...hat in 
1. XXX f. can hardly refer to any artificial system of heating 
like the hypocausts used by the Romans, for these would have 
been unrecognisable. On the other hand, so far as I am aware, 
there is no evidence of extensive Roman buildings at any of 
the hot springs in this country except at Bath. 

It is true that Bath does not appear to have been strongly 
fortified in Roman times, though like most Romano-British 
cities of the period it was surrounded by walls. But the 
Saxons^", whose social organisation was essentially military, 

1 Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry (London, 1826), p. 249 f. Conybeare 
compares the poem with Llywarch Hen's Elegy on Urien Reged. 

2 Carmen Anglosaxonicum in Cudice Exonieiwi servatum quod vulgo inscribi- 
tur Ruinae, Hallesehe Universitatsschrift, 1865, p. 5, etc. 

3 Proceedings of the Bath Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, 
March 1871, Vol. ii, No. 3, p. 259 fi. 

* Anglia, Vol. ii, p. 379: Grund. z. Gesch. der angelsachs. Litt. (Leipzig, 
1885), p. 211 f. 

5 Engla and Seaxna Scopas and Boceras (QuedUnburg, etc. 1850), p. 213 f. 
® Kurzgefasste anqelsdchsische Grammatik (Kassel, 1880), pp. 10, 15. 

7 ' Sketch of the History of Anglo Saxon Poetry' in W. C. Hazlitt's edition 
of Th. Warton's History of English Poetry (London, 1871), Vol. ii, p. 18. 

8 Die altenglische Elegie (Strassburg, 1915), p. 227. 

9 Kleines angelsachsisches Dichterbuch (Cothen, 1919), p. 32. 

10 The capture of Bath by the West Saxons is recorded in the Saxon 
Chronicle sub ann. 577, and it is likely enough that the place was destroyed 


could haicUy have conceived of any place with buildings of 
importance except as a fortress, and it would be natural to 
tiiein to think of the place as one which, in the time of its 
g\ory, was full of the military retinues of princes, like the 
D;uiish king's residence in Beoioulf. 

The damaged portions of the text are printed below in 
the same way as in the Httshand's Message (cf. p. 43 above). 
I have not ventured to attempt a translation of these 

about thi8 period, though the entry itself can hardly be regarded a8 historical. 
In later times there was a flourishing religious house there, which is generally 
believed to have been founded towards the end of the seventh century. The 
foundation charter (Birch, Cart. Sax. No. 43), issued by Osric, king of the 
Hwicce, is dated 67G, but its genuineness has been doubted. The absence of 
any reference to the &hhey — the present structure stands almost on the 
top of the springs — would seem rather to suggest that the poem was composed 
before its foundation; but it would be hazardous to lay much weight on this 
inference. For references to Roman Bath, see H. M. Scarth, Aquae Solis or 
Notices of Roman Bath (London, 1864) ; A. J. Taylor, "The Roman Baths of 
Bath, etc. (Bath, 1913) ; L. H. Wilson, Bath (1909) ; F. J. Haverfield, in the 
Victoria County History of Somerset (London, 1906), Vol. i, p. 219 fE. 



1 Wraetlic is pees wealstan. Wyrde gebraecon ; 
burgstede burston, brosnaS enta geweorc. 
Hrofas sind gehrorene, hreorge torras, 
*hrim geat torras *berofen, hrim on lime, 

5 scearde scurbeorge, scorene gedrorene, 

seldo undereotone. EorSgrap hafaS 

waldend wyrhtan forweorone, geleorone, 

heardgripe hrusan, o]> hund cnea 

werj^eoda gewitan. Oft ]>?es wag gebad 
lo rseghar and readfah rice sefter o]?rum, 
ofstonden under stormum ; steap^ 

IX geap gedreas wonaS giet se . . . . nura ge 
X heapen felon grimme 

XI gegi'unde?i (15)^ a scan heo 

XII g or>onc aer sceaft 

XIII g lam rindum beag mod mo 

XIV. . . . ry ne swiftne gebreegd (20) hweet red in hringas^ 

Aygerof gebond 

weallwalan wirum wundrum togsedrag. 

Beorht waeron burgrseced, burnsele monige, 
15 heah horngestreon, heresweg micel, 

meodoheall monig mandreama full, 

(25) o]? ]7set ]>?et onwende Wyrd seo swij^e. 

Crungon walo wide, cwoman woldagas, 

swylt eall fornom secgrof wera. 
20 Wurdon hyra wigsteal westensta]?olas, 

brosnade burgsteall. Betend crungon, 
(30) hergas to hrusan. For)?on J?as hofu dreorgiaS, 

and ]7ses teaforgeapa tigelum sceadeS 

hrostbeages hrof Hrjn-e wong gecrong 
25 gebrocen to beorgum, J^ser iu beorn monig 

glsedmod and goldbeorht, gleoma gefrsetwec?^ 

^ From this point to 1. xiv my lines correspond to those of the ms. 

2 The bracketed numbers are those which appear in most other editions 
and in references to the Ruin in the dictionaries. 

3 From this point to 1. 33 below my lines do not correspond to the lines 
of the MS. 

* em. Conybeare ; gefrxtwecf ms. 



Wondrous is this masonry, shattered by the Fates. 
The fortifications have given way, the buildings raised by 
giants are crumbling. The roofs have collapsed ; the 

towers are in ruins There is rime on the mortar. The 

walls are rent and broken away, and have fallen, under- 
mined by age. The owners and builders are perished and 
gone, and have been held fast in the earth's embrace, the 
ruthless clutch of the grave, while a hundred generations 
of mankind have passed away. Ked of hue and hoary with 
lichen this wall has outlasted kingdom after kingdom, 
standing unmoved by storms. The lofty arch has fallen... 

Resolute in spirit he marvellously clamped the foundations 
of the walls with ties. There were splendid palaces, and 
many halls with water flowing through them ; a wealth of 
gables towered aloft. Loud was the clamour of the troops ; 
many were the banqueting halls, full of the joys of life — 
until all was shattered by mighty Fate. The dead lay on 
all sides. Days of pestilence had come, and all the warriors 
were carried off by death. 

Their defences became waste places, their fortifications 
crumbled ; the troops who should have repaired them lay 
dead on the earth. And so these courts lie desolate, and 
the framework of the dome with its red arches sheds its 

tiles where of old many a warrior, joyous hearted and 

radiant with gold, shone resplendent in the harness of 


(35) wlonc and wingal wighyrstum scan : 

seah on sine, on sylfor, on searogimmas, 

on ead, on seht, on eorcanstan, 
30 on J?as beorhtan burg bradan rices. 

Stanhofu stodan ; stream hate wearp 
(40) widan wylme. Weal eall befeng 

beorhtan bosme^. 

XXX {>0er \>a, baj)u wseron ^ hat on hrejjre |)8et waes hy^elic leton })o5fi 

XXXI geotan ofer harne stau hate strea 

XXXII mas un oj)^ (45) ],aet bring 

XXXIII mere hate |)8er J>a ba 

XXXIV Jju wseron )?onne is 

XXXV re -p is cynelic jjing huse 

XXXVI burg 

1 From this point my lines correspond to those of the ms. 

2 B.M. ivsenon. Only the upper half of seron in wseron is legible in E. B. 

3 B.M. So also Schipper in E. B. where the o is no longer visible. 


battle, proud and Hushed with wine. He gazed upon the 
treasure, the silver, the precious stones, upon wealth, riches 
and pearls, upon this splendid citadel of a broad domain. 
There stood courts of stone, and a stream gushed forth in 
rippling Hoods of hot water. The wall enfolded within its 
bright bosom the whole place which contained the hot 
flood of the baths 



This poem is preserved in the Saxon Chronicle sub ann. 
937, where it is given by five of the seven extant texts. Of 
these the oldest is the Parker MS. (173) in the Library of 
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (A). This portion of the 
MS. is attributed by Warner to c. 960 ^ Of the remaining 
MSS., all contained in the Cottonian Collection, Tib. A. vi 
(B) is said* to date from c. 1000 (or possibly later) ; Tib. B. 
I (C) from about the middle of the eleventh contury' ; and 
Tib. B. IV (D) from c. 1050-1100*. W is Wheloc's edition 
of a MS. now almost wholly destroyed (Otho B. xi). This MS. 
is believed by Plummer to have been based solely on A and 
to date from some time before c. 1067^, As the basis for the 
following text, MS. A has been chosen, with the necessary 
corrections from the other MSS. 

The battle celebrated in this poem was one of a series of 
attempts on the part of the princes of Dublin and their 
allies to regain the kingdom of Northumbria, which they had 
held for a few years previous to 927 «. The immediate cause 
of the battle appears to have been the invasion of Scotland 
by Aethelstan in 934^ when his army is believed to have 
penetrated to Forfarshire and his fleet to have reached 
Caithness^ In 937 the Scots under Constantine II, in 
alliance with Anlaf, King of Dublin, and Owen (Eugenius*), 
King of the Britons of Strathclyde, retaliated by invading 
England. The expedition was met by an English army under 

1 Cf. Earle and Plummer, Two Saxon Chronicles (Oxford, 1899), Vol. ii, 
p. xxvii. Plummer himself would apparently date this (the eighth) hand 
somewhat earlier. 

* lb. p. xxix. 3 11 p, XXX f . ^ lb. p. XXX IT. » lb. p. xcviii f. 
« It was in this year that Aethelstan expelled Guthfrith (Sax. Chron 

E, F). 

' 16. E, etc. 

^ Symeon of Durham, Historia Regum (Rolls Series), § 107. Cf. id. Historia 
Dunelmemis Eccleiiue (Rolls Series), cap. xviii. Cf. also Skene, Celtic Scotland 
(Edinburgh, 1876), Vol. i, p. 3.52. 

* William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum (Rolls Series), § 134. 


Aethelstan and his brother Edmund, and defeated at a place 
called Brunanburh^ Unfortunately none of the authorities 
give any clear indication as to the position of this place. 
Many identifications have been proposed, of which perhaps 
the one most commonly accepted is Burnswark (or Birrens- 
wark) Hill, near Dumfries-. 

The Annals of the Saxon Chronicle for this period are very 
meagre except where, as here (cf. 942, 973, etc.), metrical 
pieces are introduced. The most interesting accounts of the 
expedition which have come down to us are those in the 
Irish Chronicles. In the Annals of Ulster^ (sub ami. 936) 
we are told : 

'A great, lamentable and horrible battle was stubbornly 
fought between the Saxons and Norsemen, in which many 
thousands of Norsemen, beyond counting, were slain. But 
the King, i.e. Amlaibh [Anlaf] escaped with a few. On the 
other side, however, a great multitude of Saxons fell. But 
Aethelstan, King of the Saxons, was enriched with a great 

Tavo years later the annalist refers respectfully to Aethel- 
stan as ' the pillar of dignity of the Western World.' Further 
details of the battle are given in the Annals of Clonmac- 
noise* {suh ann. 931) : 

' The Danes of Logh Rie (Lough Ree) arrived at Dublin. 
Awley [Anlaf] with all the Danes of Dublin and north 

1 Brunandun{e) (Aethelweard); i?r««a7i6w?7i (Florence of Worcester); Weon- 
dun(e), Jitbrunnanwerc or Brunnanbyrig (Symeou of Durham) ; Bruneswerce 
or Burneweste (Gaimar), Duinbrunde (Pict. Chron.). 

2 Cf. T. Hodgkin, Political History of England, Vol. i (London, 1906), 
p. 335 f. For some accovint of various suggested identifications see Earle and 
Plummer, Two Saxon Chronicles, Vol. ii, p. 140 f. Ambitious attempts are 
also to be found in the transactions of various societies, e.g. Lancashire and 
Cheshire Antiquarian Society, Vol. xxvi, p. 35 if. ; Associated Architectural 
Societies^ Reports (Lincoln Architectural Society), Vol. xxviii, Part i, p. 28 ff. 
etc. In view of the name \Veondun(e) given by Symeon it has been suggested 
that this battle was identical with the one at Vinheiffr, described in Egils Saga, 
oh. 52 f.; but a serious difficulty is presented by the fact that the latter is 
said to have taken place before the expulsion of Eric Bloodaxe from Norway 
in 935. Egill's dealings with that king, as described in ch. 56 f., were 
a direct consequence of the death of his brother Th6r61fr, who fell at 

3 Ed. W. M. Hennessy (Dublin, 1887). 

* Quoted by O'Donovan in the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the 
'Four Masters, Vol. ii, p. 633, footnote. 


part of Irt'land, departed and went over seas. The Danes 
that departed from Dublin arrived in England, and, by the 
help of the Danes of that kingdom, they gave battle to the 
Saxons on the plains of Othlyn, where there was a great 
slaughter of Normans and Danes, among which these 
ensueing captains were slain, — viz. Sithfrey and Oisle, the 
two sones of Sittrick Galey, Awley Fivit [i.e. Olafr Hviti, 
Anlaf the White] and Moylemorrey, the son of Cossewarra, 
Moyle-Isa, Geleachan, King of the Islands; Ceallach, prince 
of Scotland, with 30,000, together with 800 captains about 
Awley Mac Godfrey (Norse GuSroSr), and about Arick Mac 
Brith, Hoa, Deck\ Imar, the King of Denmark's own son, 
with 4,000 soldiers in his guard were all slain.' 

The Constantine who left a young son slain on the battle- 
field was Constantine II, son of Aedh and grandson of 
Kenneth I (Mac Alpin). He was king of Alba (i.e. Scotland 
north of the Clyde and Forth) from c. 900-942. Since the 
days of his grandfather the dynasty had been trying to 
extend their power into the south of Scotland. He was 
called in by Aldred and Uhtred, the rulers of Bamborough, 
to assist them against Ra?gnald in 918, but was defeated by 
the latter at Corbridge-. He is said^ to have submitted to 
Aethelstan in 926 ; but hostilities broke out later, and 
Aethelstan invaded his territories in 934 (cf. p. 59). In 942 
he retired and became abbot of the monastery of St Andrews^ 
His successor, Malcolm I, son of Donald, was in alliance with 
Edmund'. According to the Pictish Chronicle^ it was said 
that Constantine had come out of his monastery for a time to 
fight against Eadred, though others assigned the expedition 
to his successor Malcolm. This discrepancy will no doubt 
account for the varying length of reigns assigned to Con- 

' This sentence would seem to be a mistranslation. The original is lost. 

- Symeon of Durham, Historia de Sancto Cuthberto (Rolls Series), x, §22 ; 
but cf. the Pictish Chronicle, ed. Skene in Chronicler of the Picts and 
Scots (Edinburgh, 1867), p. 9, where Constantine is said to have been 

'•' Sax. Chron. D. 

■■ Cf. Skene, op. cit., p. 1.51. 

» Cf. Sax. Chron. A, sub ami. 9i5. 

* Skene, op. cit., p. 10. 


stantine and Malcolm in the Scottish records ^ Constantine 
is said to have died in 952-. 

The identity of the Anlaf mentioned in the poem has 
given rise to a good deal of discussion. The poem itself does 
not mention his father's name, while the following entries in 
the Saxon Chronicle (our earliest authority) clearly recog- 
nise two kings of this name belonging to the same family. 
Among the Latin historians of the twelfth century we find 
a curious discrepancy. Symeon of Durham'' describes the 
leader of the Norse forces in the battle at Brunanburh as 
the son of Guthlrith, while on the other hand William of 
Malmesbury* refers to him as the son of Sihtric\ Sihtric 
(Sigtryggr I) became king of Dublin c. 916 and died in 926®. 
He had succeeded Rsegnald (Rognvaldr) — his brother or 
cousin — in York c. 921-5 ^ and entered into an agreement with 
Aethelstan, whose sister he married, in 925®. On his death' 
he was succeeded, at least in the north of England, by Guth- 
frith^" (GuSroSr), who was probably his brother ^\ but the 
latter was expelled by Aethelstan in 927^-. Later we find two 
kings called Anlaf reigning (in succession ?) in the north of 
England. One Anlaf was the son of Guthfrith, the other of 
Sihtric. The former died c. 942 ^^ This is clearly the Anlaf 

1 Cf. Skene, op. cit., p. cxli f. ^ Annals of Ulster, sub ann. 951 (952). 

* Hist. Dun. Eecles., Book ii, cap. xvni, sub ann. 934. 

■* Gest. Reg. Angl. § 131. 

s According to Florence of Worcester (Ghronicon ex Chronicis, ed. Thorpe, 
Vol. I, p. 132) the Anlaf who fought at Brunanburh was the son-in-law of 
the Scottish king Constantine ; but he does not identify him with Anlaf 
Sihtricsson, whom he mentions on p. 134. 

6 There appears to be some doubt as to whether he remained king of 
Dublin till his death. According to the Annals of Ulster, 919 (920) he 'left 
Dublin through Divine Power.' On this question see Steenstrup, Norman- 
nerne (Copenhagen, 1882), Vol. iii, p. 17 ; Vogt, Dublin som Norsk By 
(Christiania, 1896), p. 123. 

7 Cf. Sax. Chron. D, sub ann. 923, 925 ; Annals of Ulster, sub ann. 920 (921). 

8 Sax. Chron. D. 

9 lb. sub ami. 926; Annals of Ulster, sub ann. 926 (927); Ghronicon Scoto- 
rum (KoUs Series), sub ann. 926. 

M Sax. Chron. E, F, sub ann. 927. Fl. of Worces., Mon. Ghron. ex Ghron. 
Vol. I, p. 130 f. 

" W. of Malmesbury, Gest. Reg. Angl. § 734. Florence of Worcester says 
{loc. cit.) that he was a son of Sihtric; this statement is more difficult to 
reconcile with the chronology of the two Anlafs, of whom the son of Guthfrith 
would seem to have been the older man. 

12 Sax. Chron. E, sub ann. 

1* Sax. Chron. E, snb ann. ; cf. Ghron. Scot., sub ann. 940. 


who according to the Saxon Chronicle (D) was accepted as 
king by the Northumbrians in 941, and subsequently cap- 
tured Tarn worths He was then besieged in Leicester by 
Edmund, but came to terms with him. He was succeeded 
in the North of England by his brother Raegnald and by his 
namesake Anlaf the son of Sihtric, both of whom were 
shortly afterwards expelled by Edmund''. Anlaf the son of 
Sihtric, who is also called Cwiran (Cuaran), made another 
attempt to establish himself in Northumbria a few years 
later, but after two or three years he was again expelled'. 
In Dublin however his reign was long and prosperous, 
though he was eventually defeated in 980 by Maelsechlainn 
(Malachy) II, and died the same year as a pilgrim in lona^ 

From the Saxon Chronicle one would certainly infer that 
the defeated leader at Brunanburh was the son of Guthfrith 
— the same man who after Aethelstan's death succeeded in 
establishing his power over a considerable part of the Mid- 
lands as well as in the North of England — rather than his 
cousin and successor, the son of Sihtric. The identification 
with the latter cannot be traced with any certainty beyond 
the Norman historians who lived nearly two centuries after 
the event. Malmesbury, it is true, appears to have had an 
early Latin authority for this reign ; but his inaccuracy and 
want of judgment are in general so palpable that he cannot be 
trusted unless he is evidently reproducing the words of his 

The evidence of the Irish historians, though not entirely 
clear^ points to the same conclusion. According to the Four 
Masters, sub ann. 935 'Amlaeibh [Anlaf], son of Godfrey 
[i.e. Guthfrith], lord of the foreigners, came at Lammas from 
Ath Cliath and carried off as prisoners Amlaeibh Ceanncairech 
from Loch Ribh (Lough Ree),and the foreigners who were with 
him after breaking their ships.' On their return journey they 

1 Sax. Chron., sub ann. 943. -' lb. A, sub ann. 944. Cf. E. 

' Sax. Chron. E, sub ann. 949, 952. 

* Annals of tlie Four Masters (transl. J. O'DoDOvan, Dublin, 1856), sub ann. 
980 ; etc. 

" Cf. the confused entries with regard to the plundering of Cill-Cuilind, 
AnnaLs of Ulster, sub ann. 937, 938, etc. Cf. also War of the Gaedhil with the 
GaiU (Rolls Series), p. 282. 


plundered Clonmacnoise^ ; and Todd suggests^ that the ex- 
pedition was undertaken with the object of collecting men 
and supplies for the expedition to England. For it is stated 
immediately after the above entry that ' the foreigners of 
Ath Cliath (i.e. Dublin) left their fortress and went to 
England,' and in ann. 936 (as also in the Annals of Ulster, 
sub ann. 937) 'Amlaibh, son of Godfrey, came to Dublin again.' 
It will be seen that this account of Anlaf's movements is 
quite in accordance with the passage from the Annals of 
Clonmacnoise quoted above ; but that the annalists were not 
in entire agreement is seen from the entry in the Four Masters, 
sub ann. 938 ' A victory was gained by the king of the Saxons 
over Constantino, son of Aedh ; Anlaf, or Amhlaeibh, son of 
Sitric; and the Britons.' 

This piece has certain characteristics which differentiate it 
from other Anglo-Saxon poems. Its nearest affinities are 
clearly with the poem on the Battle of Maldon. Both would 
seem to have been composed not long after the events with 
which they deal. Both use the metrical form and the con- 
ventional terminology of early heroic poetry. But besides 
extolling the prowess of the leaders whom they celebrate, 
they are inspired to a considerable extent by national 
patriotism — a feeling which is wanting in the earlier poetry, 
and which testifies to the growth of national consciousness 
in the England of the tenth century. 

In other respects there is a marked contrast between the 
two pieces. Our poem contains no detailed description of the 
battle and no speeches. On the other hand, the poet has 
been carried away by the feeling of triumph. He gloats over 
the discomfiture of the enemy, in a style not unlike that 
of Laurence Minot^ and even descends to abuse of the old 
Scottish king (eald inwidda, 1. 46). In spite of these features 
the poem is by no means a simple unsophisticated song 
of victory. The most individual feature of its style is the 

1 Annals of Ulster (Kolls Series), sub ann. 935 (936). 

2 War of the Gaedhil loith the Gaill, p. 281. 

3 Cf. (ed. J. Hall, Oxford, 1897), i, 11. 65—80 ; ii, 11. 7—24, etc. 


liberality with which the traditional })hraseology of poetry 
has been employed. Epithets are piled one upon another in 
a way which renders translation into modern English very 
dirticult ; and this difficulty is increased by a superabundance 
of adverbial phrases, e.g. 1. 46 fF. ; 1. 54 ff. ; 1. G6 ff., etc. 

It will be seen that the poem contains a number of forms 
which deviate from the standard (literary) West Saxon 
language of the time, e.g. geflemed, nede, giung, gelpari, 
gesleht, hlehhan, ageted. Some of these forms are peculiar to 
the Parker text, and we might be inclined at first sight to 
attribute them to the scribe, especially in view of the fact 
that he has made some obvious mistakes ; but this is 
probably not the true explanation. Such irregular forms do 
not occur in the preceding and following annals in the 
Paxker text, and there are enough of them in the texts of 
the poem contained in the other three MSS. to render it more 
than probable that they come from the original. Their com- 
parative infrequency in the three later texts is therefore 
probably due to correction. We may notice also in this con- 
nection the occurrence of words of Scandinavian origin, e.g. 
diennede (O. N. dynja), 1. 12 ; cnear (O. N. knorr), 11. 35, 58 ; 
and more particularly the intransitive use of the verb lecgan 
in 1. 22, which is common in early Norse, but of which the 
Anglo-Saxon dictionaries give no other instance. These con- 
siderations, as far as they go, would seem rather to point to 
the Danelagh as the home of the poet — a supposition which is 
hardly disproved by the national character of his sympathies. 
In any case the reader can hardly fail to be struck by the 
resemblance — in tone as well as in subject matter — between 
this poem and that on the Battle of Hafs fjord, p. 90 below. 



Her ^l^elstan cyning, eorla dryhten, 

beorna beahgifa, and his broj^or eac, 

Eadmund sepeling, ealdorlangne tir 

geslogon set ssecce^ sweorda ecgum 
5 ymbe Brunnanburh. Bordweal clufan, 

heowan heaJ>olinde, hamora lafan^ 

afaran* Eadweardes, swa him gesepele wees 

from cneomsegum pa, hie set campe oft 

wip la))ra gehwsene land ealgodon*, 
lo hord and hamas. Hettend^ crungun, 

Sceotta leoda" and scipflotan 

fffige feollan. Feld dsennede'^ 

secga swate^ siS)?an sunne up 

on morgentid, msere tungol 
15 glad ofer grundas, Godes condel beorht, 

eces Drihtnes, otS® sio^" sejjele gesceaft 

sah to setle". peer Iseg secg ma^nig 

garum ageted^^ guma^^ nor]>erna" 

ofer scild scoten, swilce Scittisc eac 
20 werig wiges^^ saed^*^. Wesseaxe^' forS 

ondlongne dseg, eorodcistum" 

on last legdun la]?uni J?eodum, 

heowan herefleman^^ hindan J>earle 

mecum mylenscearpan^". Myrce ne wyrndon 
25 heardes^^ hondplegan ha?le)ja nanum 

pse^ mid Anlafe ofer sera gebland^* 

• secce D ; geslogan set sake B. ^ lafum B, C, D. 

s eiiforan B, D ; aforan C. * geaUiodon D. 

5 he ted D. " Scotta leode B, C, D. 

7 dennade B, C; dennode D; dijnede W. » B, C, D; secgas hwate A. 

9 ^ B. 10 S20 B, C; sd D. ^^ smtle J). 

12 forgrundcn B. ^^ guman B, C, D. '* norfferne, B, C; norpxrne D. 

^^ wigges B, C. i** rajrf D. i^ WestsexeB; WessexeC; Wenseaxe J). 

'8 andlangne dmg cored cystavi B, C, D. 

i« here flyman B; here flymoti (J ; h eor a flyman T> ; hereflimanW. 
*•> mylen scearpuru B, C; mycel scearpum D. 
81 B, C, D; he eardes A; heordes W. 
22 /e W; para de B, C ; para pe D. 23 ^ar gebland B, C. D ; geblond W. 



In this year King Aethelstan, lord of knights and liberal 
rewarder of warriors, and his brother, Prince Edmund also, 
won undying glory by the edge of the sword in battle at 
Brunanburh. With their hammered blades the sons of 
Edward clove the serried bucklers, and hacked the shields of 
linden wood, for with them it was an instinct inherent in 
their family always to defend their country, their treasure, and 
their homes in battle against every enemy. 

The foemen were laid low, the warriors of the Scots and the 
host from the ships fell doomed. The field was flowing with 
the blood of men from the time when the sun, that glorious 
star, the bright candle of God, the Lord eternal, rose on high 
above the horizon in the morning hours — until that noble 
being sank to its rest. There lay many a warrior, men of 
the North, torn by the spear, shot over their shields ; and 
many a Scotsman too lay lifeless — they had had their fill 
of battle. 

All day long the West Saxons with troops of horse pressed 
on in pursuit of the enemies' forces. Fiercely they cut down 
the fugitives from behind with swords sharpened on the 
grindstone. Nor did the Mercians refuse hard fighting to any 
of the warriors who in the ship's bosom had followed Anlaf 
over the tossing waters to our land to meet their doom in 



on lides^ bosrae land gesohtun, 

faege^ to gefeohte. Fife Isegun 

on pam campstede cyninges^ giunge^ 
30 sweordum aswefede, swilce seofene eac 

eorlas Anlafes, unrim^ heriges 

flotan and Sceotta^ Dser geflemed'' wearS 

NorSmanna bregu^ nede gebeded®, 

to lides stefne litle weorode. 
35 Cread^" cnear on" flot^^ cyning^^ ut gewat 

on fealene" flod feorh generede. 

Swilce ]?aer eac se froda mid fleame com 

on his cyppe nor5 Costontinus^^ 

bar'*' hildering". Hreman ne j^orfte 
40 msecan^* gemanan. He^^ waes his ma^ga sceard, 

freonda gefylled on folcstede-", 

beslagen-^ aet ssecce, and his sunu forlet 

on wffilstowe wundun forgrunden^^, 

giungne^^ set gu5e. Gelpan-* ne porfte 
45 beorn blandenfeax-^ bil geslehtes-*^, 

eald inwidda^^ ne Anlaf ]?y ma 

mid heora herelafum hlehhan ne j^orftun 

|j8et hie^^ beaduweorca beteran wurdiin 

on campstede cumbelgehnades^^ 
Sogarmittinge^" gumena gemotes 

wsepengewrixles )?8es^^ hi on wselfelda 

wij> Eadweardes afaran'^ plegodan. 

Gewitan him pa NorSmen n^gledcnearrum^^, 

dreorig daraSa laf on Dinges^^ mere 
55 ofer deop^ wseter Difelin'''^ secan 

1 li^es C. 2 fage D. ■* -gas B, C, D. ^ geonge B, C ; iunga, D. 

6 7 unrivi C. 6 Scotta B, C, D. ^ geflymed B, C, D. ^ 5^^^^ g^ q j^ 
9 gebsRded B, C, D; iieade geb. C, D; nyde W. ^° creat D. 

^1 B, C, D; cnea ren A. ^^ flod D. ^^ cyning...flod om. D. 

i-i fealone B, C. i^ Constantinus B, C, D. i« lial D. ^^ h. rinc, B, C, D. 

18 mecea B; meca C; mecga D. ^^ her B, C. "" on his folcstede C. 

21 forslegen B; beslegen C; beslasgen D. -- B, C, D;/er- A. 

23 'geongne B, C, D. ^4 ^j^^pan B, C, D, W. 25 .jga; g^ c. 

26 geslihtes G, D; -slyhtes B. ^7 inioitta B, C; inwuda D. 

2« B ; fti C, D; ^eo A. 29 culbod-, superscribed !;ei cumbel- A; 

cuvibol gehnastes B, C, D. 3" mittunge D. =*! ^^^ ^^ j) 

32 eaforan B ; aforan C. *^ negled C ; rf£E(; ^ZedZ o/j garum D. 

3* dynges B; dinges C; dyniges D; Dinnes W. ^* deopne D. 

3« Dj^ejf B ; DyflinC; Dyflig D. 


battle. On the field of battle lay five young kings stretched 
lifeless by the sword, and with them seven of Anlaf's earls 
and a countless host of seamen and of Scots. There the 
prince of the Northmen with but a small following was com- 
pelled by irresistible force to flee to the prow of his ship. The 
king's bark was launched in haste, and he made his way out 
over the grey waters and saved his life. 

There also the aged Constantine, the grey-haired warrior, 
set off in flight to his country in the North. No cause had he 
to exult in that clash of arms. He was bereaved of his kins- 
men and friends, who had been cut down in the struggle and 
lay lifeless on the field of battle. On the place of slaughter 
he left his young son mangled by the blows he had received 
in the conflict. No need had the hoary knight — the old 
scoundrel — to exult in the clash of swords. As little cause 
had Anlaf : no need had they to gloat — they and the remnants 
of their hosts — over their superiority in martial deeds upon 
the field of battle, when the standards came into collision, 
when spear met spear and man encountered man and blade 
was crossed with blade — as they competed with the sons of 
Edward on the field of slaughter. 

Then the sorry remnant of the Norsemen, who had escaped 
the spears, set out upon the sea of Dinge in their nail-studded 
ships, making for Dublin over the deep waters. Humiliated 


eft Iraland\ aewiscmode. 

Swilce J7a gebro]?er^ begen setsamne^ 

cyning and a3|7elmg cyppe sohton, 

Wesseaxena land, wiges hreamige^ 
60 Letan him behindan hrae bryttian^ 

saluwigpadan* ]?one sweartan hrsefh 

hyrnednebban'' and pane base wan padan^ 

earn aeftan hwit seses brucan 

grsedigne guShafoc" and pset grsege deor 
65 wulf on wealde. Ne wearS wael mare 

on J>is eiglande^" aefre" gieta 

folces gefylled^'* beforan )>issum 

sweordes ecgum, )>8es pe us secgaS bee, 

ealde uSwitan, si]?)?an eastan hider 
70 Engle and Seaxe up becoman 

ofer brade^^ brimu Brytene sohtan 

wlance wigsrai]7as Weal as ^^ ofercoman 

eorlas arhwate eard begeatan. 

1 B, C, D (Yra- C, D) ; 7 eft hiralandA. 2 broffor C. 3 hegemtrunneD. 
* hreniige B, C, D ; a superscribed e in A. 

5 hrawbryttigeanBihrabrittiganC; hrabryttingaD ; hrmfn B7-yttian\N ; 
m of hrm superscribed w in A. 

6 salo- B, C, D. ' hyrnet- T>. 

8 7 ^one hasu (haso B) padan (wad- D, W), B, C, D. » cuff- D. 

i» eglande B, iglande C, D. " B, C, D; mfer A. 12 afjjlledB. 

13 B, C, D ; brad A ; brymum brad W. " B, C, D ; loealles A. 


in spirit thoy returned to Ireland. The two brothers also, the 
King and the Prince of the English, both together returned 
to their country, the land of Wessex, triumphing in their 

Behind them they left a heap of carnage to be shared by 
*he black raven with its dusky plumage and hooked beak, 
and the dun-coated white-tailed eagle — a feast to be enjoyed 
by the hungry hawks of battle, and by that grey beast, the 
volf of the forest. 

Never in this island before now, so far as the books of our 
ancient historians tell us, has an army been put to greater 
slaughter at the edge of the sword, since the time when the 
Angles and Saxons made their way hither from the east over 
the wide seas, invading Britain, when warriors eager for glory, 
proud forgers of battle, overcame the Welsh and won for 
themselves a country. 



Norse MSS. which consist wholly or mainly of poetry are 
few in number, and with the exception of those which con- 
tain the poems of the Edda they are of comparatively little 
importance. Most of the early poems which have survived, 
including the pieces contained in this volume, owe their pre- 
servation to the fact that they have been incorporated b/ 
way of quotation in prose works of a much later date. One 
consequence of this is that the great bulk of Norse poetrj 
has come down to us in a fragmentary state. Very often we 
have only single strophes of what were probably poems of 
considerable length. Sometimes again we are left in doubt 
as to whether the passages quoted are complete poems or 
merely extracts. 

The remains of Norse poetry of the ninth and tenth cen- 
turies are preserved chiefly in historical works of the thirteenth 
century, most of which were written in Iceland. Perhaps the 
most interesting of these is the Heimskringla of Snorri 
Sturluson (d. 1241), a history of the kings of Norway from 
the earliest times to 1177. The same author also wrote an 
account of the diction of poetry (Skdldskaparindl) in his Prose 
Edda, and here also a very large number of quotations from 
early poets are preserved. 

At one time the number of vellum MSS. containing sagas 
and other prose works was very considerable. They were 
written for the most part between the thirteenth and fifteenth 
centuries ; not a few dated from the middle of the thirteenth 
century and were thus almost contemporary with the rime 
when historical writing was at its best. Unfortunately a very 
large number of these MSS. were destroyed in the great fire 
in the University Library at Copenhagen in 1728^ We are 
therefore largely dependent for our knowledge of such works 
upon paper copies of these MSS., which were made in the 
1 Cf. p. xi, above. 


sovontoenth centurv. Fortunately, owing to the zeal dis- 
played by Scandinavian scholars during that period, those 
are numerous, and for the most part evidently written with 
great care. It is the practice of Scandinavian scholars to call 
the paper MSS. by the names of the vellums from which they 
are copied, and which are now preserved only as a few 
shrivelled leaves, when they survive at all. 

It will be convenient here to give a short account of the 
MSS. of the historical work from which the four following 
pieces are derived. 

I. Fagrskinna. The University Library at Copenhagen is 
known to have possessed two vellum MSS. of this work — 
A and B — both of which were burnt in 1728. The name 
Fagrskinna (' Beautiful Vellum '), which is due to Torfaeus, 
belongs properly only to the former of these MSS. (which is 
believed to have been written in the early part of the four- 
teenth century) though it is now generally applied to the 
work itself. B, of which a small fragment remains, appears 
to have been much earlier, and was probably written about 
1250. It is known to have come to Copenhagen from Bergen 
some time between 1610 and 1728. Upon the paper mss. 
which are derived partly from A, partly from B, we are 
almost wholly dependent for our knowledge of the Hrafnsmdl 
and the Eiriksmdl. They contain also the Battle of Hafs- 
fjord and the Hdkonarmdl str. 1 — 7, and 19 — 21. 

II. Heimskringla (H), Snorri's History of the kings of 
Norway (see above). This work is preserved in an imperfect 
form in a number of paper MSS. descended from a MS. known as 
Kringla (K), which appears to have been written c. 1260, as 
well as in certain vellums of which the most important are 
the Codex Frinavus (F) and the Jofrskinna (J), both written 
about 1325, and both far from complete. 

III. The Flateyjarbdk (Fl.), with which may be classed 
certain other texts published in the Forn-Manna Sogvr 
(F. M. S.). The Flatei/jarhdk, like the Heiviskringla, contains 
sagas of the kings of Norway, but these sagas are for the most 
part much longer than those contained in the Heimskringla, 
and it is clear that the compiler has frequently incorporated 


many shorter independent narratives in recounting the lives 
of the kings. Thus the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason virtually 
contains the history of Norway and much of the history of 
Iceland and Denmark down to King Olaf 's own times. 

The first folios of the Flateyjarbok were written in the 
year 1387, but according to the editor^ the greater part of 
the text seems to be of somewhat earlier date, probably 
between 1370 and 1380. It was taken from Iceland in 1662 
by Torfaeus as a present from Bishop Brynjolf Sveinsson to 
King Frederick III, and is now in the Royal Library at 
Copenhagen. Previously to that date it is known to have 
been in the possession of a family who had dwelt on the 
Island of Flatey in BreitSifjor6r since the fourteenth century. 

The text of the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason contained in 
the Forn-Manna Sogur (ed. Copenhagen, 1825) Vols, i-ili is 
based on a vellum Arn. Magn. No. 61 which presents a text 
very close to the Flateyjarbok. The editors also used the 
Flateyjarbok itself as well as several MSS. nearly related to it. 

In general the text of the poems preserved in these MSS. is 
hardly better than that of the Anglo-Saxon poems — for which, 
as we have seen, we are for the most part dependent upon a 
single MS. It is to be remembered however that the former 
poems were not written down until some two or three centuries 
after their composition, and that the language in which they 
are preserved is that which was current in Iceland or in 
Norway in the thirteenth century. This frequently spoils the 
metre of the poems ; in particular Norwegian MSS. often fail 
to show the alliteration, since certain initial sounds had 
disappeared in the language of Norway by the thirteenth 
century. Scandinavian scholars usually publish the poems 
in a form of language which is substantially that of the 
earliest Icelandic MSS. 

In the Hrafnsmdl and the Eiriksmdl I have followed the 
orthography of the only text (Fagrskinna) in which these 
poems are preserved, with a few exceptions which will be 
noted in due course. The texts of the other five poems are 
derived very largely from seventeenth century (paper) copies 
1 C. K. Unger (Christiania, 1860—1868), Vol. i, p. ii f. 


(often minu'rous) of lost Mss. It has been the custom to base 
the printed editions on a colhition of the surviving vellums 
and of these paper Mss., which often preserve a better text than 
the vellums ; but not many complete transcripts of individual 
MSS., whether vellum or paper, have been published. As the 
orthography of the various mss. differs to a certain extent, it 
has been the custom for editors of such conflate texts to 
normalise, though there is some difference between the 
systems adopted by the various editors. I have followed, 
except in the two poems above mentioned, the orthography 
employed in the poems contained in the sagas published by 
SigurSur Kristjansson at Reykjavik, as I think this system 
is probably the one most familiar to English readers. 

It should be observed that the language of the Fagrskinna, 
which is Norwegian of c. 1250, differs in a few respects from 
the Icelandic of the same period. The chief points to notice 
are: (1) x stands (as in Anglo-Saxon) for a short as well as a 
long vowel, generally corresponding to Icelandic e, as in smgi; 

(2) oey corresponds to Icel. ey, as in hceyra ; (3) initial h- is 
lost before I and r, as in IfjiSi 7nngherendr ; (4) a is regularly 
preserved before u in the following syllable (as in fagrum, 
tjorgha&om), owing to the absence of labial umlaut ; (5) ^ and 
n are doubled before d (as in late Icelandic texts such as the 
Flateyjarhok), e.g. Harallde, lannd. c is often written for k, 
V for (internal) /, and e, o for i, u respectively in unaccented 
syllables, but these features are also found in early Icelandic 
MSS.; gh is sometimes written for (internal) g. 

I have added the initial h- before I and r to show the 
alliteration, but in other respects I have not departed from 
the orthography of the Fagrskinna^, though it must be 
remembered that this represents the language of a period 
nearly four centuries later than the time of Hornklofi. 

1 Except that, as elsewhere, (1) i and j, u and v are distinguished re- 
spectively according to their modern usage, (2) o is distinguished from o, and 

(3) accents are inserted to mark the lonR vowels. The Fafirskinnn does not 
mark accents, while the usage of the earlier Icelandic mss. is inconsistent in 
this respect. 



With the exception of Bragi Boddason who is believed 
to have lived in the early part of the ninth century, the 
earliest Norwegian poets whose names have come down to 
us in connection with existing works are those who were 
attached to the court of Harold the Fairhaired. Harold is 
believed to have been bom c. 850, and to have succeeded his 
father Halfdan in the kingdoms of Vestfold (in the south- 
east of Norway) and Sogn (on the west coast) when he was 
about ten years of age. In the course of the next twelve 
years he subdued the whole of Norway, which had previously 
contained a considerable number of kingdoms. His last great 
battle was the naval action in the Hafsfjord, off Stavanger, 
in 872, when he encountered and defeated the confederate 
kings of the south-west. 

Among the best known of the poets in Harold's train are 
Thj6?!olfr of Hvin and Thorbjorn Hornklofi. The former was 
specially honoured by the king, and entrusted by him with 
the upbringing of one of his sons. Two of his longer works 
have survived, of which one is the Ynglingatal, a genealogical 
poem in which he traces the ancestry of a certain Rognvaldr — 
apparently a first cousin of Harold — back to the early kings 
of Sweden and the god Freyr. Another work of the same 
poet is the Haustlong, which celebrates various adventures 
of the gods with the giants. In addition to these, a number 
of strophes are attributed to him in the prose histories of 
Harold's reign, as well as in Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda. 
Many of these strophes are however assigned to Hornklofi 
by other authorities^ 

Of Thorbjorn Hornklofi little is known. In the Fagrskinna, 
eh. 2, he is described as an ' old friend of kings-,' and it is 

1 The frequent confusion of these two poets is believed to be partly due to 
the practice of writing an initial letter in mss. in place of the full name. 
p would stand for either ThjoSdlfr or Thorbjorn (Hornklofi). Cf. F. J6nsson, 
Den Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs Historie (Copenhagen, 1894), 
Vol. I, p. 431. 

- A similar expression is applied to Thjo^olfr in the Flateyjarbok, Vol. i, 
p. 567. 


stilted that he had been familiar with court life from his 
childhood. In the Sk-dlda Saga\ ch. 1, he is said to have had 
an influential relative in the Uplands called Hrolfr Hnetja — 
father-in-law of Earl Rognvaldr of Mcere, and grandfather of 
Hrolfr (Rollo), the first earl of Normandy. He is mentioned 
also in an interesting passage in Egils Saga, ch. 8, which 
incidentally would seem to indicate that the praise which 
Hornklofi bestows upon the king for his treatment of his 
court poets was not undue : ' Of all the men of his retinue 
King Harold showed most honour to his poets, and the 
second high-seat was assigned to them. Here in the first 
place'- sat AuSun Illsktt'lda. He was the eldest of them and 
had been the poet of Halfdan the Black, the father of King 
Harold. Next to him sat Thorbjorn Hornklofi, and next 
again Olvir Hnufa. Next to the last named a seat was 
assigned to BarSr.' The Skdlda Saga gives an account of a 
discreditable adventure which befell the first three of these 
on one occasion. To atone for it they had to undertake a 
dangerous mission to Sweden. 

Portions of at least two of Hornklofi's poems have come 
down to us, in addition to some detached strophes attributed 
to him in the Prose Edda. Of these longer pieces one was 
known as the Glymdrdpa. It is in the common skaldic metre 
called Drottkvxd'i, and contained apparently a general survey 
of Harold's expeditions and battles. The second is the piece 
given below. With the exception of two strophes it is 
preserved only in the Fagrskinna. Strophe 6 however is 
quoted also in the Heimskringla {Saga of Harold the Fair- 
haired, ch. 16), and strophe 13 also in the Flateyjarbok, 
Vol. I, p. 568 (and Forn-Manna Sogur, Vol. x, p. 179), though 
here it is attributed not to Hornklofi but to AuSun. No 
name is given to this poem by any of the early authorities. 
By modern scholars it has been variously called Hraf)isiiidi\ 
Haraldsmdl* and Haraldskvie^i^. 

The metre used in this poem is chiefly the Mdlahdttr, 

' Forn-Manna Sogur, Vol. iii. - Lit. 'inmost,' i.e. farthest from the door. 

•* J. SigurSsson, Snorra Edda, Vol. iii, p. 41u. 

* Moebius, Edda Samundar kins Fro6a (Leipzig, 1860), p. 228. 

' Wisen, Carmina Norrana (Lund, 188G), p. 122. 


which is found also in certain poems of the Edda, e.g. the 
Atlamdl and portions of the Atlakvi&a and the Ham&ismdl. 
Strophes 10 — 15 are partly in Ljo&ahdttr. For this combina- 
tion we may compare the Hdkonarmdl and the Eiriksmdl. 
In strophes 8 and 15 we have Fornyrd'islag — the metre used 
in most of the narrative poems of the Edda and practically 
identical with that of the Anglo-Saxon poems. 

The setting of the poem is somewhat peculiar. It consists 
of a dialogue between a valkyrie and a raven ^ in which the 
latter tells the former many interesting details about the 
warriors of King Harold and the life spent by various classes 
of people at his court. It is not at all certain that the poem 
is complete. Strophes 1 — 6, which clearly form the beginning 
of a poem, are quoted by the Fagrskinna on pp. 6 — 9^ strophes 
7 — 11 on pp. 9 — 11, strophes 12, 13 on pp. 11, 12, and 
strophes 14, 15 on p. 12, the quotations being separated by 
short prose passages. Some strophes may have been omitted 
between the quotations and possibly also at the end. 

In Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 2, there is a single strophe quoted 
which previous editors have generally regarded as forming 
a part of the Hrafnsmdl : 

Valr la par a sandi, vitinn^ enum eineygja 

Friggjar faSmbyggvi ; fognuSum daS slikri^ 

There lay the dead on the strand, allotted to Frigg's 

one-eyed husband. Our hearts were gladdened by such 


The subject of fognu&um is not stated. The use of the 
word in this connection would be applicable to ravens, and 
consequently would not be out of place in the Hrafnsmdl ; 
but it is to be observed that Snorri himself cites ThjoSolfr 
of Hvin, not Hornklofi, as the author. 

Two further fragments have generally been regarded as 

1 We may compare the Serbian poem on Kraljevic Marko which is com- 
posed in the form of a dialogue between a Vila and an eagle (Karadzic, 
Srpske Narodne Pjesme, Vol. ii (Vienna, 1875), p. 328 £f.). 

' The references are to b\ Jonsson, Fagrskinna (Copenhagen, 1902-3). 

» K ; vitt Cod. Worm. 

* The notes to this strophe and the two strophes on p. 79 below will be 
found on p. 181 below. 


forming u part of the Hrafnsindl. They arc found in the 
Flatei/jarbolc, Vol. I, p. 576 (and Forn-Manna Sugar, Vol. X, 
p. 194 f.). The second one occurs also in ih. Vol. i, p. 42 (and 
Forn-Manna Sogur, Vol. I, p. 7) and in the Heimskringla 
{Saga of Harold the Fairhaired, ch. 21). They are as follows: 

1 Annat skulu pxr eiga ambattir Ragnhildar, 
disir draniblatar, at drykkjunuilum, 

an seis hergaupur es Haraldr of hafi 
sveltar valdreyra', en verar J>eira bra^S. 

2 HafnaSi Holmrygjum ok HorSa meyjum, 
hverri enni Heinversku ok Holga- gettar* 
konungr enn kynstori, es tok konu Danska. 

1 Those haughty dames, the handmaidens of Ragnhildr, 
shall have something else to relate over their cups than 
that ye wolves have been stinted of the blood of slaughter 
by Harold and feasted by their husbands. 

2 The king of noble lineage turned away the maidens of 
the Holmrygir, and of the HorSar, and all those of 
HeiSmork, and of the stock of Helgi, when he took a 
Danish wife. 

These strophes, like the last, are in the Mdlahdttr, and 
the second of them is attributed to Hornklofi by the Heims- 
kringla, together with the Flatei/jarbok, Vol. i, p. 42, and 
the Forn-Manna Sogur, Vol. I, p. 7 ; but they are both 
assigned to ThjoSolfr in the Flateyjarhok, Vol. i, p. 576 
{Forn-Manna Sogur, Vol. X, p. 194 f.). All that one can say 
with safety is that they might, not inappropriately, have 
formed a portion of the Hrafnsrndl. 

The majority of scholars, following the suggestion of Munch 
and Unger^ believe that the piece given on p. 90 below 

• F.M. S. Vol. XII, p. 226; valdreyrgar Flat.; valdreyrar F. M.S. Vol. x, 
p. 195. 

2 F.M.S. Vol. I, p. 7; Ilalga K; Holga Fris. ; kaljya J 1; holda F.M. S. 
Vol. X, p. 195 ; Flat. Vol. i, p. 576. 

^ H'''trda...mttar, Haralldr meyium \ liverre hinn(e) hmversku \ hilmir nor- 
rmne Flat, i, p. 42. 

* Oldnnrsk Lwsebog, Chnstian\&,18i7, p. HI. This does not however appear 
to have been the view of Nygaard who in Udvalg af den Norroiu' Litcratur 
(Bergen, 1875), p. 316 f., printed the piece given on p. 90 below as a 
separate poem under the title of Slaget i Havemjjord. 


originally formed part of the Hrafnsmdl; and in modern editions 
this piece is usually inserted between strophes 6 and 7. It is 
in the same metre (Mdlahdttr) as the Hrafnsmdl and is 
generally assumed to be by the same author; but the external 
evidence gives little support to this view. Of the three 
works in which it is preserved, two, the Fagrskinna and the 
Flateyjarhok, attribute it to ThjotJolfr. It is only in Snorri's 
Heimskringla that Hornklofi is given as the author ; and 
Snorri himself in the Prose Edda {Gylfaginning, ch. 2) 
quotes one of the strophes as by ThjoSolfr. The chief argu- 
ment for believing that the two poems were originally one 
is that the opening of the Hrafnsmdl leads one to expect 
the description of a battle, though what is actually preserved 
deals in the main with the king's life in times of peace. 
The poem ma}'^ originally have contained some account of a 
battle or of Harold's prowess in warfare ; but it does not 
necessarily follow that this was the piece on the battle of 
Hafsfjord, even if the latter is Hornklofi's work^ 

It has indeed been urged ^ that King Harold's wars, with 
the exception of the battle of Hafsfjord, are treated in the 
Glymdrdpa, and that this battle was omitted here because 
it had already been celebrated in the earlier poem : it was 
not the custom for Norse poets to deal with the same 
incident on more than one occasion. But no one doubts that 
the Glymdrdpa, as we have it, is incomplete ; we cannot tell 
what it contained originally. It is quoted in the Heimskringla 
in connection with the two battles at S(51skel and with 
Harold's adventures in Gotaland ; but the Fagrskinna gives 
it in connection with the battle of Hafsfjord. In point of 
fact the references to naval battles — especially in Norway — 
which it contains are scarcely of such a character as to 
enable us to identify them with certainty. Again it seems 

^ Finnur J6nsson urges [Ben Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs His~ 
torie, Copenhagen, 1894, Vol. i, p. 432) that 'it is exceedingly improbable 
that Thorbjorn should have composed two poems, both in the same metre 
(Mdlahattr), and both in the same (dialogue) form, between the same 
characters ' ; but there is nothing to show that the same characters (i.e. the 
raven and the valkyrie) are involved here ; and the opening word (heyrU'i or 
Jitzyritu) is scarcely sufficient to show that the poem was iu dialogue form 
at all. 

- Finnur J6nsson, op. cit., Vol. i, p. 430. 


to me that the amount of historical poetry of this period 
which has come down to us is scarcely sufficient to prove 
that the poets never dealt with the same events on more 
than one occasion. Negative evidence should I think be 
used with special caution, more especially when we are con- 
sidering a poem like the Glymdrdpa which is in the nature 
of a retrospect covering the events of a number of years. 
And lastly, I cannot help thinking that it is a somewhat 
strange assumption that a poet who was in Harold's service 
for some twenty or thirty years, as is believed S should have 
composed only two poems in honour of the king during the 
whole of that period. 

I do not mean of course to deny the possibility that the 
two pieces given here belonged to the same poem. But 
I think that the reasons hitherto given for combining them 
are insufficient. The author of the Fagrskinna had clearly no 
suspicion that the two poems were connected. The Hrafnsmdl 
is quoted in full under Hornklofi's name (' as the poet 
Homklofi says ' etc.) on p. 6 ffi, some time before the mention 
of the battle at Hafsfjord. When this battle comes to be 
mentioned the poem on it is introduced wdth the words ' As 
the poet ThjoSolfr of Hvin says.' At the end the writer 
adds: ' Hornklofi speaks of this battle as follows,' and with 
that he goes on to quote the Glymdrdpa. It seems to me 
preferable therefore to give the two poems separately and let 
the reader form his own opinion as to their relationship. 

The text of the poem as given below is based on the 
paper copies of MS. B as printed by Finnur Jonsson in 
his edition of the Fagrskinna (Copenhagen, 1902-3). The 
readings of the surviving copies of A have sometimes been 
adopted in preference however, and the principal variant 
readings of all these paper MSS. (A 1 — 2, B 1 — 2) have been 
indicated in footnotes. Where A 1 — 2 and B 1 — 2 are in agree- 
ment respectively the letters A, B have been used without 

' For the date of the Glymdrdpa, cf. F. Jonsson, Den Oldn. og Oldisl. 
Litt. Hist. Vol. I, p. 429 f. 


I jETlySi /iringberendr meSan ec fra Harallde ssegi^ 
odda^ ij?r(5ttar^ enom avarauSgha^; 
fra malom man ec sgegja J^aeim er ek moey hoeyrtSa 
hvita haddbjarta er viS hramn doemde^ 

' 2 Vitr^ p6ttez valkyrja ; verar ne varo 

psekkir feimo'' enni framleito er fuglsrodd kunni. 
Cvadde en kvaerkhvita oc en gloegghvarma* 
Hymiss hausroeyti^ er sat d horne^" vinbjarga" : 
3 ' Hvat er ySr, Aramnar, hvaSan evop er comner 
meS drseyrgu nefi at degi anndvaerSum ? 
Holld loSer ySr i kl6m, Arses )?8efr gjsengr^^ 6v muni; 
nser hygg ec y3r" i nott bjoggu" pvi er vissuS^^ at 
naer^^ liggja.' 
i' 4 RcByfSizk hinn hbsQaSri oc um hyrnu }?erSi, 
■ arnar" seiSbroSer, oc at annsvorum hugSi : /' 
(^ 'Harallde ver fylgSum, syni HalfSanar, j 
•; ungum Ynglingi^^ sISan or asggi comom. 1 

5 Kunna hugtSa ec^® l^ic konong myndu ]?ann er^ a Kvin- 

num-i byr, 
drottenn NorSmanna. Djupum rseSr hann kjolom, 
roSnum rondum, rauSum- skjolldura, 
tjorghaSom^^ drom, tjolldum drifhum-1 

6 Uti vill jol drecca ef seal seinn ratJa 

fylkir enn framlyndi, oc Froeys laeik hsefja-^ 
Ungr Iseiddiz elldvelli^ oc inni sitja^, 
v: varma dyngju eSa vattu diinsfulla^*.' 

1 ec . . .ssegi B : seghi ec A. - oddi A. ^ iprottir A. 

* hinum avarau&gha A; enom harfagra B. ^ rsedde A. ® Vig B. 

"^ em. von Friesen ; psekkir suamo enne framsotto B ; peckirren {-rfen A 2) 
nonn hinni framleito A so v. Friesen; -ren (-rfen A 2) no hinni F. Jonsson. 

8 glaeg- A; gleegg arma B. » A, Al ; so also Arni Magniisson's correction 
in B 1-2 ; roya A 2 ; raeya B. 

^" hormum A. " B; hjarga A. '- gjcengr yd'r A. ^^ yifr om. A. 

" B ; hjuggud A. i^ vissu B. ^^ nser B; ndr B 1-2, A. 

I'' A ; annar B. '^ ecflingi A. i* om. B. ^^ pannz A. 

21 kymnum A. ^'' oc r. A. ^^ tjorgum B. -^ oc drifnum skjoldum A. 

25 hevja A ; heyja A 1 ; H, F. -6 .pgm g . .yigi F. 

27 at sitja A, H, F. ^8 -fula B. 



1 Hearken, noblemen, while I celebrate Harold the magnifi- 
cent and his feats of arms. I will tell of the words which 
I heard spoken by a maiden fair and golden haired as 
she held converse with a raven. 

2 The valkyrie prided herself on her wisdom ; — and the 
warlike maid took no pleasure in men, for she knew the 
language of birds. With white throat and sparkling eyes 
she greeted the skull picker of Hymir as he sat on a 
jutting ledge of rock, 

3 'How is it with you, ye ravens? Whence are ye come 
with bloody beak at the dawning of day ? Torn flesh is 
hanging from your talons, and a reek of carrion comes 
from your mouths. I doubt not that ye have passed the 
night amid a scene of carnage.' 

4 The sworn brother of the eagle shook his dusky plumage, 
wiped his beak, and thought upon his answer : 

'We have followed Harold, the son of Halfdan, the 
youthful scion of Yngvi, ever since we came out of the egg. 

5 ' I thought that thou wouldst know the king who dwells 
at Kvinnar, the lord of the Northmen. He has under his 
command deep ships with their reddened stripes and 
crimson shields, tarred oars and foam-besprinkled awnings. 

6 ' If he shall have his own desire the resolute-hearted 
prince will drink his Yule at sea and play the game of 
Freyr. Even in his youth he showed no inclination for 
the fireside and indoor life, the warm bower or pillows 
stuffed with down.' 




I 7 ' Hversso er hann^ fegjavaP Jjseim er folld vserja, '^ 
itra 6gnflytr vi5 i)?r6ttarmenn sina ? ' 

8 ' Mjok ero rceyfSir r6gbirtingar, 
)7aeir er i Harallz tiini hunum vaerpa ; 
i f^ ero )?eir goeddir^ oc fagrum msecom*, 
malme Hiinlenzkum oc mane austroeno. - 

:. 9 Da ero ]?sBir rseifir er vitu* romo vasne, "1 
orvir upp at hlaupa oc arar at svaegja^ ■:■ 
I, homlur at brjota en hae at slita^ 
c^ rikulega^ hjgg ^c \k vorru )?oeysa at visa raSe.' 

■ lo 'At skallda reiSo^ vil ec \\q, spyrja, allz )7u j^ykkis skil 
vita ; 
Greppa ferSir-" \vi mannt" gorla kunna, 
l^aeirra er meS Haralldi hafaz.' 

11 'A gjaerSum^^ sdr J>8eira oc a gullbaugum 

at ]?aeir ero i kunnlseicum viS konong. 
Felldum^^ ra?5a J?8eir rauSum oc vel faghrrendaSom^S *• 
', sverSum silfrvofSum, saerkjum hringofhom, ' 
: gylltum annfetlum oc grofnom^^ hjalmum, - 
' Aringum handberom, er ]>8eim Haralldr valde.' b 

12 'At bersserkja rseiSu vil ec spyrja^**, bsergir Arsessevar ; 
hversso er fenget^^ J?seim er i folk vaSa, 

vigdjorfum verom ? ' 

13 'UlfheSnar^* hseita, ]78eir er i orrostu" 

bloSgar rander bera ; 
vigrar rjdSa er^" til vigs coma, 

j?8eim er )?ar sist saman. 
, ArsaeSesmonnum seinum, bygg ec, ]7ar undir felaz^^ 7 
- ( skyli s4 en skilvisi )?8eim er i skjolld hoggva^.' C' 

1 B 1-2 ; >a« B ; om. A. --gjafaB. ^ }>essheSnir'S,. ^mmtumA2. 

6 vita B. * sveighja A. "^ om. at B. ® reeiku- B. 9 roedo B» 

^<* far er A. n vmnt A. ^- georcfum A. 

1^ oc skjoldum A ; oc skj- A 2. ^^ om. oc vel, and vdffom rondum B. 

15 grrcE?)?<m B. " pik spyrja K. i'' A; per fengocfB. 

18 tJ ; >eir A and om. after h. i^ B (orras^/), F. M. S. x, p. 179, Fl. : 

orrostum A. 
20 pa er A. -^ >«?• hssfa at standa F. M. S., Fl. 

-2 />ds skatnar skilvisir i skj'dld hoggva F. M. S. , Fl. 


7 ' What of the generosity which he shows to those who 
guard the hxnd, the martial leader amid his splendid 
champions ? ' 

8 ' Very magnificent is the life enjoyed by the glorious cham- 
pions who play chess in Harold's court. They are enriched 
with money and with splendid swords, with the metal of 
Himaland and with girls from the East. 

9 ' Their spirits are high when they know that there is a 
prospect of battle. Eager are they to leap up and bend 
their oars, to break the oar loops and split the tholes, to 
churn up the waters with mighty strokes, as I can aver, 
at the command of their prince.' 

lo ' I should like to ask thee of the position of the poets, 
since thou hast confident knowledge : full well thou must 
know the troops of bards who dwell with Harold.' 

1 1 ' Their connection with the king is apparent from their 
apparel and their jewels. They possess cloaks of scarlet 
with magnificent borders, swords bound with silver, coats 
of woven mail, gilded baldricks and graven helmets, 
bracelets on their wrists — all of which have been be- 
stowed on them by Harold.' 

12 ' I should like to ask thee of the position of the berserkir, 
thou taster of the carrion flood ; what provision is made 
for the martial heroes who march to battle ? ' 

1 3 ' Wolf-coats are they called who bear bloody shields in 
battle. They redden their spears when they come to the 
fight, and then they act all in a body. I doubt not that it 
is only upon men of tried valour who fight without 
flinching that the wise king will rely on such occasions.' 


7 14 'At Iseicarum oc triiSum^ hsefi ec J^ic lit freget; 
hvaerr er oergati J^seira AnndaSar 
at htisum Harallz?' 

•/ 15 'At hundi selskar AnndaSr- — oc hseimsku drygir- 
oeyrnalausum, oc jofur hlcegir. - 
Hinir ero oc aSrer er um aelld sculu 

brennanda spon bera ; 
logandum hufum hafa^ ser undir^ linda drepet 

hseldrseipir^ haler.' 

1 trupo A. " om. A 2. ^ jiafa pser B 1-2. * und A. 

5 hel- A. 


14 ' I have neglected to ask thee of the jesters and jugglers ; 
what cheer have AndaSr and the rest at Harold's court ? ' 

1 5 ' AndaSr fondles his earless dog and plays the fool and 
makes the prince laugh. There are others too whose task 
it is to carry burning chips through the fire. The skipping 
fellows have their blazing hoods tucked under their belts.' 



The subject of the following poem^ is the Battle of 
Hafsfjord, the final and decisive action by which Harold 
the Fairhaired succeeded in establishing his power over the 
whole of Norway. Previously to this he had conquered the 
district of Trondhjem, and then in the two battles at Solskel 
he had defeated and killed or expelled the kings of Moere 
(M^re), Raumsdalr (Romsdal), and the FirSir (i.e. the region 
round the Nordfjord). The whole of the coast down to and 
including the Sogne^ord was now in his possession. The only 
kings who retained their independence were those of the 
south-west — HorSaland, Rogaland, Ag?5ir, and Thelamork, 
corresponding approximately to the present provinces of 
South Bergenhuus and Christiansand, and these in alarm 
formed a confederacy against him. In 872 Harold proceeded 
from Trondhjem southwards, and encountered the allied 
forces in the Hafsfjord near Stavanger. 

Several accounts of the battle have been preserved. Among 
these we may mention specially those contained in Egils Saga, 
ch. 9, arid the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heimskringla), 
ch. 18. According to the former there assembled ' a great host 
from inland and from the eastern districts, on the Bay,' led 
by Eric, King of HorSaland, Sulki, King of Rogaland and Earl 
S6ti his brother, Kjotvi the Wealthy and Thorir Haklangr, 
both from AgSir^, and others. Egils Saga gives a somewhat 
detailed account of the leading men who fought on King 
Harold's ship. In the prow were Th6r61fr Kveldulfsson, the 
poets BarSr the White and Olvir Hnufa, and Ey vindr Lambi ; 
and in the forecastle were Harold's twelve berserkirl The 

1 For tbe question of the possible connection of this poem with the 
Hrafnsmdl, cf. the introduction to that poem, p. 79 ff. above. 

2 There appears to be a discrepancy between Egils Saga and the Heims- 
kringla. In the former Th6rir is called King of Ag^ir, while Kjotvi's position 
is not specified. In the Heimskringla Kjotvi is called king and Th6rir is 
said to be his son. 

3 Cf. also the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heimskringla), eh. 9. 


account given in the HeiinskHngla is evidently derived very 
largely from the poem. Thus it is stated that the fleets met 
oft" JaSarr in Hafstjord. Harold was victorious, and the 
leaders of the allies were killed except Kjotvi, who fled to an 
island, ' using it as a shield.' The host was scattered, some 
escaping by ship, others 'inland through JaSarr.' The subjects 
of the diff"erent kings submitted to Harold after the battle, 
and his power was now established over the whole of Norway. 

The question of the date of the poem is to some extent 
bound up with the question as to the relationship between it 
and the Hrafnsmdl. The reference to Utsteinn in strophe 3 
might seem to suggest that it was composed some time after 
the battle, since this place is mentioned as one of Harold's 
favourite residences in his later years S and it could hardly 
have come into his possession before the conquest of HorSa- 
land and Rogaland. But the five strophes by themselves 
convey the impression of a song of victory, like the poem on 
the battle of Brunanburh, and it may be that Harold had 
taken up his quarters temporarily at IJtsteinn after the battle. 
If the place had previously been a residence of the kings of 
Rogaland this would be natural enough, and the references 
in the poem would then gain in significance. 

The poem on the battle is preserved in several different 
works — the Fagrskinna, pp. 16 — 18, the Flateyjarhok, Vol. i, 
p. 574 (together with Forn-Manna Sogur, x, p. 190 ff.) and 
the Heimskringla, Saga of Harold the Fairhaired, ch. 18 
(including the Codex Frisianus", p. 48). In the Fagrskinna 
and the Flateyjarhok it is attributed to Thj6i561fr of Hvin, in 
the Heimskringla to Thorbjorn Hornklofi. Strophe 5 is also 
found in Gylfaginning, ch. 2. The text given below is based 
in the main on Kringla (cf. p. 73 above), but the chief varia- 
tions in the readings of the MSS. have been pointed out in 
the notes below. 

1 Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heimskringla), ch. 37. Cf. also Howorth, 
Saga Book of the Viking Club, Vol. ix, p. 172, with reference to G. Storm's 
paper on the battle of Hafsfjord. 

^ Ed. C. R. Unger, Christiania, 1871. 



1 HeyrSu^ i HafrsfirSi hve hizug- barSisk 
konungr enn kynstori* viS Kjotva enn auSlagSa^ ; 
knerrir kdmu austan, kaps^ um lystir*^ 

me6 glnondum hofSum ok grofnum tinglum. 

2 HlaSnir varu'' holSa ok hvitra skjalda*, 
vigra vestroenna ok Valskra sverSa ; 
grenjiit5u berserkir, gu5r vas' ]>eim a sinnum, 
emjuSu ulfheSnar ok Isorn duSu". 

3 FreistuSu ens framrdSa es J?eim flyja" kendi, 
allvalds^- austmanna, es byr at Utsteini ; 
sto'Sum^^' Nokkva bra stillir^^ es hanum vas styrjar 

vseni^^ ; 
hlommun vas a hlifum, a3r Haklangr felli. 

4 Leiddisk pa. fyr Liifu landi at halda 

hilmi enum halsdigra; holm let s6r at skjaldi. 

Slogusk und" sess]7iljur^^ es sarir varu, 

letu upp stjolu stiipa^^, stungu i kjol hofSum. 

5 A baki 16tu blikja — barSir varu grjoti — 
Svafnis" salnsefrar seggir hyggjandi — 
CBstusk austr kylfur-" — ok um JaSar hljopu^^ 
heim or HafrsfirSi, ok hugSu a mjoSdrykkju. 

^ hceyrSu A, B ; heyrffi Fl. ; heyr&ir JmIl,F, 2 hraustliga FI. 

3 F, H, A i-e) ; kynstorB; kostsami J 1. ^ A, B, H ; auffga F. 

5 haps J 1 (J 2). 6 fylldr J (-ir J 2). ^ v. Peir K, J 1, A, B, Fl. 

' hvitum skjoldum Fl. 

» K, J 1, A,' (gnmr v. /.) B ; v(ar)J:> F ; g. es J^eim hUf&i Fl. 
1* J 1 ; glumffo K ; gullu F; isar iarn (om. B) dudii A, B ; isarn hitu Fl. 
^^fylgja F. i^ F, A, B; -vast J 1, 2; -valldr K. 

13 em. F. J6n88on ; stolf'om K ; stodum J ; stauSom F ; stoffu nokkvar Fl. 

14 H, A, B, F; steindir Fl. 

1^ H, F, A, B ; h. v. s. vanz B ; er stillir dtti enn styrjar nenni Fl. 

i« F, A; undir K, J 1, B. »7 g^ss um J^iljur Fl. i* stufa J 1 ; standa FL 

1* B; svafins A; svaulnis F; svolnis Ups. 

2" J 1 (-^ci/i/r J 2) ; austkylpor K; aud'kylfor F ; austr Fl. (om. /c.). 

2i Jaif'arbygif'ir Fl. (om. oft). 



1 Hearken how the king of noble lineage fought yonder in 
Hafsfjord against Kjotvi the wealthy. A fleet came from 
the east, with gaping figure-heads and carved beaks — 
impelled by desire for battle. 

2 They were laden with warriors and white shields, with 
spears from the West and swords from France. The ber- 
serks were howling, the 'wolf-coats' were yelling, and 
swords were clashing : their warfare was in full swing. 

3 They made trial of the resolute monarch of the men of 
the east, who dwells at Utsteinn. — He pointed them the 
road to flight. The king brought out his ocean steeds 
when he had a prospect of battle. There was a clashing 
of shields ere Haklangr fell. 

4 Then the thick-necked chief showed no inclination to 
maintain his land against the Shock-head. He used the 
island as a shield. Those who were wounded thrust them- 
selves under the benches, arching their backs and pushing 
their heads down into the keel. 

5 The prudent warriors took care to cover their backs with 
glittering shields — the shingles of Othin's hall — as they 
were pelted with stones. Their prows were in headlong 
flight towards the east, and homewards from HafsQord 
they fled by way of JaSarr, with their minds set on the 


Harold the Fairhaired is said to have resigned the throne 
when he was eighty years of age (i.e. about the year 930) to 
his son Eric {Eirikr Blo'd-oxy. The new king was not popular, 
and in the year after Harold's death (934) a rival claimant to 
the throne appeared in the person of Haakon, one of Harold's 
youngest sons (cf. p. 101). In the following year Eric had to 
leave the country. He is said to have first made his way to 
the Orkneys, where he received a friendly reception from 
the sons of Torf Einarr. After this, according to all Norse 
authorities, he was placed by Aethelstan in charge of the 
Northumbrian kingdom, and fixed his residence at York-. 
Under Aethelstan's successor, Edmund, he was displaced by a 
rival named Olaf and took to harrying the neighbouring 
lands. Eventually he was killed in battle against Olaf, and 
with him there fell two of Torf Einarr's sons and five other 
princes ^ 

The Norse tradition regarding the life of Eric after his 
departure from Norway is not entirely to be trusted. English 
records know nothing of his presence in Northumbria 
under Aethelstan, though as the annals of the time are very 
meagre, their silence is not conclusive. What the English 
authorities make clear, however, is that Eric became king of 
Northumbria, apparently on two separate occasions, during 
the reign of Eadred (not Edmund)'*. He was twice expelled 
by Eadred, and it would seem that in the interval the North- 
umbrians were governed by Olaf Cuaran, King of Dublin. 
For what happened after Eric's second expulsion we have no 
contemporary authority, and the exact date is uncertain. 
Symeon of Durham says^ that Eiricus, the last king of North- 

1 Cf. the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heimskringla), ch. 41. 
- Cf. the Egils Saga, ch. 59 ; the Saga of Haakon the Good {Heimskringla), 
ch. 3; Fagrskinna, ch. G. 

^ Cf. the Saga of Haakon the Good (Heiimkriugla), ch. 4. 
■» Cf. Saxon Chronicle, sub ann. 948, 954 D ; 952, 954 E. 
* Historia liegum (Rolls Series), Vol. ii, § 159. 


umbria, was driven out and killed by Maccus, the son of 
Anlaf. Thereupon the Northumbrians submitted to King 
Eadred who gave the province to Earl Osulf. Matthew Paris, 
who wrote three hundred years after these events, but who 
evidently had access to authorities now lost, states^ that King 
Eilricus was treacherously slain, with his son Haericus and 
his brother Reginaldus, in a desert called Steinmor, by the 
' Consul ' Maco, through treachery on the part of Earl Osulf. 

The Anlaf mentioned by Symeon of Durham is doubtless 
the Olaf who is said in the Norse authorities to have killed 
Eric, and we have no reason for doubting that he was the 
famous Olaf Cuaran"^. But the affair in which Eric lost his 
life would seem to have been an ambush rather than a battle. 
Perhaps on resigning the throne he had been given a safe- 
conduct by Earl Osulf of Bamborough, who had subsequently 
betrayed him to his enemy. The scene of the massacre was 
evidently on the Roman road from York to Carlisle, not far 
from Kirkby Stephen. It may be observed that though the 
English authorities give no hint of a real battle, they confirm 
in two cases the evidence of the sagas as to the persons killed I 

In the Fagrskinna, ch. 7, it is stated that the poem which 
follows was composed at the request of Queen Gunnhildr, 
Eric's widow, who retired to the Orkneys and resided there 
for some time after Eric's death*. Subsequently the Queen 
with her sons made her way to Denmark, where they received 
protection from Harold Blue-tooth, and whence they made 
frequent attempts to wrest the kingdom of Norway from 

The poem is obviously incomplete. Of the author nothing 
is known, though we may doubtless assume that he was one of 
Eric's followers. It may have been composed in Orkney shortly 
after the news of the disaster became known ; at all events it 
can hardly be many years later, since Eyvindr Finnsson's 
Hdkonarnidl (cf p. 104 ff. below) is evidently modelled on it. 

1 Chronica Majora (Bolls Series), Vol. i, sub ann. 950. 

2 Cf. p. 62 fif. above. 

2 I.e. Harekr and Rognvaldr. Cf. the Saga of Haakon the Good (Heims- 
kringla), ch. 4. 
* Ih. ch. 5. 


Finnur Joiisson has pointed out^ that the anthorwas familiar 
with the diction of the Edda poems. Cf. str. (j* with Voluspd, 
str. 41-; str. 6- with Udvamdl, str. l^ 38^ Fdfnismdl, str. 24'; 
str. 7* with Hdi'barpsljdp, str. 9*, Vafprupnismdl, str. 31 The 
metre of the poem is the Ljdtfahdttr except in str. 1, which is 
in the Mdlahdttr. 

With the exception of strophes 1 and 2 this poem is pre- 
served only in the Fagrskinna"- (cf pp. 73 tf. and 81, above), 
and indeed only in those MSS. which are derived from the later 
of the two vellums (A). In the MSS. derived from B there is 
a lacuna at this point. The first five lines are preserved also 
in the Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 2. 

^ Den Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs Historie (Copenhagen, 1894), 
Vol. I, p. 452. 

" Ed. F. J6nsson (Copenhagen, 1902-3), pp. 28—30. 



1 'Hvat er J^at^ drauma-,' qvaS OSenn, 'er ek^ hugSumk 

firi dag litlu^ '' 

^) Valholl riSja^ firi vegno folki ? b 
(. Vacta ec einherja, baS ec uprisa '^ 

becki at strd, borSkaer® at lytJra, '■'' 

valkyrjur vin bera, sem visir come. : 

Er mer'' 6v heimi hollda vanir 

gofgra noccora, sva er mer glatt hjarta. ^ 

2 ' Hvat J^rymr ]7ar, Bragi, sem j^usund bivizt 

e]?a msenge til mikit ? ' 
' Braka all beccj?ili sem muni Balldr coma 
eptir i 6sins sale.' 

3 ' Heimsco msela,' qvaS Osinn, ' scallt ]?u, hinn horski Bragi, 

]>6 at J?u vael hvat vitir. 
Fyr ^iriki* gly™r, er her mun inn koma 
jofurr i 63inns sale. 

4 ' Sigmundr oc Sinfjatli, risit snarlega, 

oc gangit i gogn ^ grame ; 
inn ]?u bj6S ef ^irikr se ; 

bans er mer nu v6n vituS.' ^ 

5 ' Hvi er J?er -^iriks von,' kvaS Sigmundr, ' hselldr enn 

annara kononga ? ' 
' pvi at margu lannde,' sagSe OSenn, ' harm hevir maeki 

oc bl(55oct svaerS borit.' 

6 ' Hvi namt J?u hann sigri )?a er J^er J?6tti hann snjallr 

vera ? ' 

' J?vi at ovist er at vita,' sagtJe OSenn, 
' ser ulfr enn hosve a sjot goSa.' 

1 pet k2. 2 dcBina Cod. Sn. E 757. ■' om. Cod. Sn. E 757. 

* risa Codd. Sn. E. ^ riiti A2; a added above the line in A. 

« Cod. Ups. ; horkar A. '' me A 2. The r has been added later in A. 

8 em. Munch and Unger ; Jiirlkr iis. ^ em. Munch and Unger ; gongo A. 



1 What dream is this ? ' said Othin, 'a little before daylight 
I thought I was preparing Valholl for a slain host. I was 
awakening the einherjar, and bidding them rise up and 
cover the benches and cleanse the beakers — I was bidding 
the Valkyries bring wine as if a prince was coming. I have 
hope of some noble heroes from the world ; so my heart is 

2 ' What uproar is that, Bragi, as if thousands were in motion 
— an exceeding great host approaching ? ' 

'All the timbers of the benches are creaking as if Balder 
were coming back to Othin's abode.' 

3 ' Surely thou art talking folly, thou wise Bragi,' replied 
Othin, 'although thou knowest everything well. The noise 
betokens the approach of the hero Eric, who must be coming 
here into Othin's abode. 

4 ' Sigmundr and Sinfjotli ! Arise quickly and go to meet 
the prince. If it be Eric, invite him in ! I have now con- 
fident hope that it is he.' 

5 ' Why dost thou hope for Eric rather than for other kings ? ' 
asked Sigmundr. 

' Because he has reddened his sword in many a land,' re- 
plied Othin, ' and carried a bloodstained blade.' 

6 ' Why hast thou robbed him of victory when thou knevvest 
him to be valiant ? ' 

' Because it cannot be clearly known,' replied Othin : — 
' The grey wolf is gazing upon the abodes of the gods.' 
K. ' 7 


7 ' Hseill pd nu, Mirikr,' kvaS Sigmundr, ' vael scalt pu. 

her kominn ! 

oc gack i holl, horscr ! 
Hins vil ec J>ic fregna : hvat fylgir per 
jofra fra egg J?rymu ? ' 

8 ' Konongar eru v,' sag]?! Eirikr, ' ksenni ec per nofn^ 

allra ; 

ec em hinn setti sjalfr.' 

1 em. Munch and Unger; namfn A. 


' Hail now to thee, Eric ! ' cried Sigmiindr, ' Welcome shalt 
thou be here! Enter our hall, wise (prince) ! One thing 
I would ask thee : What heroes attend thee from the roar 
of battle ? ' 

' There are five kings (here),' said Eric, ' I will make known 
to thee the names of all. I am the sixth myself.' 




Haakon I, commonly called the Good, was one of the 
youngest, if not the youngest, of the sons of Harold the Fair- 
haired. The circumstances of his birth and death are curiously 
picturesque. He is said^ to have been born on a rock (called 
' Haakon's Rock '), on the shore where the ship, on which his 
mother was travelling to visit King Harold, was anchored for 
the night. 

While still a child, Haakon was sent to England where he 
was brought up as a Christian by Aethelstan. Whatever may 
be thought of the details of the story as given in the Saga of 
Harold the Fairhaired (Heimskringla), ch. 39, there is no 
need to doubt the main fact. Harold's relations with Aethel- 
stan are recorded also by William of Malraesbury^. 

In the year after his father's death (cf. p. 93 above), 
Haakon made his way to Norway, and, before twelve months 
had elapsed, succeeded in expelling his brother Eric (in 935). 
He reigned prosperously for over twenty-five years, and was 
an exceedingly popular king, though his efforts to introduce 
Christianity proved a failure. Towards the end of his reign, 
several attempts were made at conquest by the sons of Eric*. 
On the last occasion, as King Haakon was being entertained 
at Fitje in the Island of StorS (Stordo), news was brought that 
a mighty fleet was at hand. The king armed himself in his 
corselet, and girt himself with his sword Quernbiter; he put 
a gold helmet on his head, took up his shield and halberd, and 
proceeded to array his men. A fierce fight now took place. 

' King Haakon was more easily recognised than other men 
and his helmet glittered when the sun shone on it. The fray 
wiis very fierce around him. Then Eyvindr Finnsson took 
a hood and drew it over the King's helmet, whereupon one of 

1 Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heimskringla), ch. 37. 

2 Gesta Regum Anglorxim (Rolls Series), i, § 135. 

' Cf. the Saga of Haakon the Good {Heimskringla}, ch. 19, 21 f., 28 f. 


the enemy cried loudly: "Is the King of the Norwegians hiding, 
or has he fled? Where has his golden helmet vanished ?' " ' 

Haakon's foes were routed, but the king received his death- 
wound in the battle. He set sail the same night for his 
house AlreksstaSir, but soon grew exhausted from loss of 
blood, and asked to be put ashore. He landed at ' Haakon's 
Rock,' and by a strange coincidence is said to have died on 
the spot on which he had been born^ 

According to the Saga of Haakon the Good (Fagrskinna), 
ch. 11, the Eyvindr Finnsson mentioned above 'made a poem 
on the death of King Haakon, and modelled it on that which 
Gunnhildr had had made for King Eric... and he relates in 
the poem many things which occurred in the battle.' The 
poem here referred to is the Hdkonaymdl. Eyvindr was a 
member of King Haakon's retinue, being indeed his grand- 
nephew, and a great-grandson of Harold the Fairhaired. He 
fought by Haakon's side throughout the battle at Fitje, and 
it is curious that he tells us so little in his poem of what 
actually took place. He was surnamed Skdldaspillir, ' the 
Plagiarist,' and there is rough justice in the nickname ; for the 
Hdkonarmdl is in form obviously a close and frank imitation 
of the Eiriksmdl, while his other chief poem, the Hdleygjatal, 
which has only come down to us in fragments, is just as 
evidently based on the Ynglingatal of Thj6S61fr of Hvin''. 

Yet Eyvindr is no mechanical copier of other poets. There 
is a difference of tone between the Eiriksmdl and the 
Hdkonarmdl ; and though the former is incomplete, it is not 
likely that the Hdkonarmdl is indebted to it for its spirit of 
reflection and note of regret for the things that have passed 
away. Indeed it would seem that the poem is as much 
inspired by hostility to Harold Greycloak, Haakon's successor, 
as by loyalty to Haakon himself Especially is this noticeable 
in the last four strophes of the poem. Strophe 18 reads like 
a direct challenge to Harold who, with his two brothers, 

1 Saga of Haakon the Good (Heimskringla), ch. 30, 31. 

2 lb. ch. 32. 

3 According to Olrik (The Heroic Legends of Denmark, transl. L. M, 
Hollander, New York, 1919, pp. Ill, 175 f. and pass.), the first part of the 
Hdkonarmdl (e.g. str. 5) contains reminiscences also of the Bjarkamdl. 


' broke open the sanctuaries, destroyed the images, and earned 
thereby great hatreds' Equally double-edged arc strophes 19 
and 20, while in strophe 21 Eyvindr applies the melancholy 
roHections of the Hdvamdl (str. 76 f.) to the famine and 
<Hstress which prevailed in the land after Haakon's death. 

There are moreover several points of detail in which the 
Hdkonarmdl differs from that portion of the Eiriksmdi which 
has come down to us. In the latter it is Sigmundr who 
questions 0th in as to why he has robbed Eric of victory. In 
the former the question is put by Haakon himself and strikes 
a querulous note. — ' Surely we have deserved victory of the 
gods ! ' Further, in strophes 15 — 20 one is tempted to suspect 
that Haakon is entering Valholl with some misgiving. He 
does not appear to trust the gods. — ' We will keep our 
armour in our own possession... It is well to have one's 
gear to hand.' Finally, in strophe 21 Eyvindr's own dis- 
satisfaction is clearly expressed. The Eiriksmdi is a vivid 
picture of the triumphal entry of Eric into Valholl. In the 
Hdkonarmdl the note of triumph is sounded in a minor key, 
and the reader is almost more conscious of the personality of 
Eyvindr than of Haakon himself. 

Like the Eiriksmdi, the Hdkonarmdl is composed in a 
combination of Mdlahdttr and LjoMhdttr. The latter is used 
in strophes 1 and 2, and from strophe 9 (3) to the end of 
the poem, while the Mdlahdttr is used for the description of 
the battle in strophes 8 — 8. 

The whole poem is preserved in the Heimskringla (K, J, F), 
and strophes 1 — 7 and 19 — 21 also in the Fagrskinna (cf. 
p. 73 above). The text given below is based in the main on 
Kringla (cf. p. 73 above) but the chief variations in reading 
are pointed out in the notes. 

* Cf. the Saga of Harold Greycloak (Heimskringla), ch. 2. 



1 Gondul ok Skogul sendi Gautatyr 

at kjosa um konunga, 
hverr Yngva settar skyldi meS OSni^ fara 
ok 2 i ValholP at* vesa. 

2 BroSur fundu pser^ Bjarnar i® brynju fara, 

t konung enn kostsama, kominn und^ gunnfana ; 

driipSu dolgraar^ en darraSr" hristisk, 
upp vas )>a hildr um hafiS. 

3 Het a Haleygi'" sem" a Holmrygii^ 
c jarla einbani'^ f6r til orrostu.- 

t Gott hafSi enn gjofli" gengi NorSmanna '^ 
oegir^* Eydana, stoS und^^ arhjalmi^''. ' 

4 Hrauzk 6t hervaSum^^ hratt^^ a vol! brynju 
visi^" ver5ungar-S dSr^ til vigs toeki^. ^ 
Lek vis IjotSmogu^*, skyldi land verja -' 
gramr^ enn glaSvaeri ; — stoS und^ gullhjalmi^. - 

5 Sv4 beit J>a sverS 6r'^^ siklings hendi 
vaSir VafaSar, sem i vatn-^ brygt5i. 
BrokuSu broddar^", brotnuSu skildir^^ 
glumruSu^" glyrahringar^ i gotna^ hausum^. 

6 Troddusk^" torgur fyr Tys ok bauga^'' »' 
hjalta harSfotum hausar NorSmanna. **' 
R6raa varS i eyju, ruSu konungar^ ;." 

:. skfrar^' skjaldborgir i skatna bloSi. ' 

1 oj^in J (1). 2 om. J (1), A, B. ^ -hollu J (1). 

* om. F. 5 K^ A, B ; funno /r J (1), J (2) ; /. /^{ar) F. 

6 or F. ^ undir B, unnd A, vHf" F. 

^ em. F. J6nsson ; dolgrdr K; dolqur F; dolgarar J (1) ; dolgar A, B. 

9 darrar J (1) ; durr vorDr ristizk B. ^^ Holmrygi J (1). 

11 F, A, B; sems K. 12 Sd er her kallar J (1). '-^ -dani F. 

w F, J(l), A; gofgi K,B. ^^ A; oeyger B ; jii^fr F; egir J (1); ey^/r K. 
16 undir A, B. i'' (7uW- F; haom- B. i^ herfotum B. i9 re« A. 

20 K, J (2), A; vis J (1); ?7?s(rB. 21 varD'avgar k; vmrif'unga B. 

22 at^r en B. ^* fce/cfz K. -* -mangu B, A, A (2) ; maugu A (1). 

25 pram K; 3!/^! Skdldskap. ch. 64. ^6 ^. undir B. 

27 L6k...gullhjdlmi occurs also in Sknldskaparmdl, ch. 64. -** i B. 

as vam o/F. ^o irykudo odd{ar) J (1) ; brakaif-u b. A, B. 

SI skill(ir) F. '- glaumroif'o F ; glumD'rad'u B ; ghimff'u A. 

3» K, F ; gylfringa J (1) ; -par A, B. ^4 jo^^^ j (i) 35 haustum B. 

*6 Traud'ad'u A, B. ''' ui^'' tj/^s o/" (tysvin A) vallde A, B. 

38 _^rar margir F. 2* sHra B. 


1 Gondul and Skogul wore sent by Gautatyr to choose 
a king of Yngvi's race, who should go to join Othin and 
dvvoll in Valhr.ll. 

2 They found Bjorn's brother arraying himself in coat of 
mail ; the noble king was stationed beneath his standard. 
Deadly shafts were descending and the dart was quivering. 
The battle had now begun. 

3 He called on the men of Halogaland and likewise upon 
them of Rogaland, he who had dealt slaughter to earls, as 
he marched to battle. A brave force of Northmen had 
the generous prince. — In helmet of bronze he stood, 
a terror to the Danes. 

4 Leading his chosen band he cast off his raiment of battle, 
flung his mail-coat to the ground before he began to 
fight. In helmet glittering with gold the joyous prince 
stood and sported with the sons of the host. His part it 
was to guard the land. 

5 Then did the sword in the hero's hand pierce VafotSr's 
garments as if it had been whisked through water. Spear- 
heads were shivered and shields rent. The resounding 
steel clashed on the skulls of warriors. 

6 Targets and skulls were crushed by the blade of the 
generous ruler of the Northmen. A tumult arose in the 
island as the king reddened the bright serried shields 
with the blood of warriors. 


7 Brunnii beneldar i^ bloSgum undum, 
lutu^ langbarSar at lySa fjorvi, 
svarra?5i s4rgymir^ a sverSa nesi, 

fell floS fleina i fjoru StortJar^ 

8 Blendusk^ viS roSnuw^ und randar himni 
Skoglar veSr, 16ku viS sky^ um bauga ; 
umSu oddlar i 0(5ins veSri, 

hne mart manna fyr msekis straumi. 

9 Sdtu J?a doglingar meS sverS um togin, 
meS skarSa skjoldu ok skotnar^ brynjur; 
vasa sa herr i hugum ok" atti 

til Valhallar vega. 

10 Gondul J?at maelti — studdisk geirs skapti. — 

' Vex nil gengi goSa, 
es Hakoni^** hafa raeS her mikinn 
heim bond" um boSit.' 

11 Visi p&t heyrSi hvat valkyrjur mseltu 

masrar af^^ mars baki ; 
hyggiliga 16tu ok hjalmaSar satu*^ 
ok hofSusk hlifar fyrir. 

12 ' Hvi )?u sva gunni,' kva?5 Hakon, ' skiptir, Geirskogul" ? 

Varum pd verSir gagns fra goSum.' 
' Ver J?vi voldum,' kvat5 Skogul, ' at J?u velli helt^^ 
en J?inir fiandr^^ flugu,' 

13 ' Ri?5a vit mi skulum/ kvaS en rikja Skogul, 

' groenwa^^ heima goSa, 
OSni at segja at nti^^ mun allvaldr koma 
^^" hann sjalfan^" at sea.' 

1 F and J (1) omit this strophe from i blnff'gum...Stord'ar. 2 j^n^ ^^ 

^ -gymis A ; avaratt'e siorgymiier B. 

* Strophes 8—18 are omitted in the Fagrskinna. 

^ F. omits this strophe; J (1) omits vi!^... straumi. 

6 em. Munch and Unger; roU'narK. ^ em. Munch and Unger; skysK. 

8 skorn{ar) F. 9 F ; er B, i" hakon F. 11 bpndr F. 

12 a J (1). i» satu J (1) ; stoif-o K, F. " i gmr J (1). 

15 em. F. J6nsson; hellz K, F; hellzt J (1). i« Jiandm{enn) F. 

1^ em. Munch and Unger ; gr^na K, F; grona J (1). 
J8 F; her K. ^^ F; ok K. 20 k, F ; sialfr J (1). 


7 The swords raged like blazing fire in bloody wounds. The 
halberds stooped to draw the life of men. The blood 
gushed forth upon the swords like the sea breaking upon 
a headland ; a torrent of gore was shed upon the shores of 

8 Skogul's gales raged in confusion beneath the reddened 
canopy of the shield, her clouds rolled around the bucklers. 
The waves of blood roared in Othin's gale, and hosts were 
overthrown by the tide of gore. 

9 Now the prince was sitting with sword drawn, with shield 
cleft and mail-coat pierced ; in no cheerful mood was the 
host which was making its way to Valholl. 

10 Then said Gondul as she leaned upon the shaft of her 
spear: 'Now will the forces of the gods be increased, 
since they have summoned Haakon with a great host to 
the divine abodes.' 

1 1 The prince heard what the noble valk3a'ies were saying. 
Thoughtful was their mien as they sat on their steeds, 
with helmets upon their heads, holding their shields 
before them. 

12 'Why hast thou thus decided the battle, Geirskogul ?' asked 
Haakon ; ' Surely we have deserved victory of the gods ! ' 
' We have brought it about that thou hast won the day,' 
replied Skogul, 'and that thy foes have fled.' 

13 ' Now must we both ride,' said the mighty Skogul, ' to the 
green homes of the gods, to tell Othin that a monarch is 
coming to enter his presence.' 


14 ' HermdSr ok Bragi,' kva3 Hroptatyr, 

' gangit5 i gogn grami, 
pviat^ konungr ferr, sas kappi J^ykkir, 
til hallar hinig.' 

15 Rsesir J?at maelti — vas fra r6mu kominn, 

stdS allr i dreyra drifinn : — 
' IlltiSigr mjok- ]?ykkir oss* OSinn vesa, 
sjam^ ver hans um hugi.' 

16 ' Einherja^ griS skalt pd allra hafa, 

l^igg ]fu at Asum ol. 
Jarla bagi, pu att inni her 
atta broeSr,' kvaS Bragi. 

17 'Gei-Q'ar varar/ kvatS enn g6t5i konungr, 

' viljum ver sjalfir® hafa; 
hjalm ok brynju skal hirSa vel, 
gott es til gors'' at taka.' 

18 pa pat kyndisk, hve sa konungr hafiSi 

vel um l^yrrat veum, 
es Hakon baSu heilan koma 
raS oil ok regin. 

19 GoSu doegri verSr sa gramr um borinn, 

es ser getr slikan sefa ; 
hans aldar mun se vesa 
at g65u getit. 

20 Mun obundinn a yta sjot 

Fenrisulfr um^ fara, 

aSr jafngoSr a auSa troS 

konungmatSr® komi. 

21 Deyr fe, deyja fra^ndr, 

eySisk land ok laS ; 
siz" Hakon for" meS heiSin goS, 
morg es J>j65 um )?jaS. 

1 K, J (1) ; alls F. ^osF. 3 om. F. ■• K, J (1) ; s'la F. ^ Enhveria J (1). 
« sialfr J (1). 7 gors K; geyrs F, J (1). * 0/ F ; om. K, J (1). 

9 K, F ; konungr J (1). i" sizt K, J (1) ; siti F. "J; om. K, F. 


14 ' HeriiioSr ami Bragi,' said Hroptatyr, 'go ye to meet the 
prince ; for there is coming to our hall a king who has 
proved himself a hero.' 

15 Then spake the prince who had come from the tumult, 
and stood all drenched with blood. — ' Othin has shown 
himself very hostile towards us. We are afraid of his 

16 ' No harm shalt thou get from any of the Einherjar,' said 
Bragi ; ' Accept ale from the JEsir ! Foe of Earls, thou 
hast eight brothers in our abode.' 

17 ' We will keep our armour in our own possession,' said the 
brave king ; ' helm and mail-coat must be well guarded. 
It is well to have one's gear to hand.' 

18 Then it was made manifest, when all the divine council 
bade Haakon welcome, how that king had dealt reverently 
with the sanctuaries. 

19 A prince who gains for himself such a character is born 
under a happy star; his life will ever be held in good 

20 The wolf of Fenrir will be let loose upon the homes of 
men before so good a prince shall succeed to his vacant 

21 Cattle are dying, kinsfolk are dying, land and realm are 
laid waste, and many people have been reduced to bondage 
since Haakon passed away to the heathen gods. 



This poem is preserved in the Njdls Saga, ch. 157. It 
follows immediately on the account of the battle of Clontarf \ 
which was fought on Good Friday, 1014, between Brian 
Borumh, the high-king of Ireland, and SigurSr, Earl of Orkney. 

The accounts of the battle preserved in Norse and Irish 
literature are singularly full and interesting^ According to 
the Njdls Saga (ch. 154) the battle had its origin in the desire 
of KormlotS, the mother of Sigtryggr Silken-beard, King of 
Dublin, to be avenged on Brian Borumh, to whom she had 
formerly been married. To accomplish this end, she sent her 
son to SigurSr, Earl of Orkney, and to Br<53ir, a Viking chief 
coasting off the Isle of Man, bidding him offer any terms to 
gain their assistance. Taking her at her word Sigtryggr 
promised his mother in marriage to each of them without 
informing the other, and thus obtained their aid. There is no 
reason for questioning the truth of this story; but it is to be 
noted that according to Irish authorities it was Brian who took 
the offensive, and an attack was no doubt expected from him. 

The Irish forces came up on Palm Sunday, but the battle 
did not take place till the Friday. According to Njdls Saga, 
ch. 157, this was because BroSir had ascertained by witchcraft 
that if they fought on Good Friday King Brian would fall but 
gain the victory ; but if they fought before that day the 
battle would prove fatal to all who were against him^ Accord- 
ing to the Irish accounts^ the two armies met on the morning 
of Good Friday and the battle opened with a single combat. 

' The Story of the Irish War contained in ch. loi ff. is connected only in 
the loosest way with the rust of the saga, and is believed to have been taken 
from a lost Brjnns Saga which was used also in ThorsteinsSar/a Sid'uhabsonar 
(cf. F. Jonsson's ed. of Urennu-Njdh^aga (Halle, 1908), pp. xxxtl.). Thor- 
steinu, son of Hallr a SiSu, is said to have been present at the battle tof^ether 
with Hrafn the Red, and it is possible that the story of the battle was derived 
ultimately from them. 

- Cf. Njdh Saga, ch. 156, 157; Thorsteins Saga Siihuhalssonar, ch. 2; 
Orkneyinga Saga, ch. 13, etc.; War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill (Rolls 
Series), p. 151 ff. ; Annals of Loch Ce (Rolls Series), p. 3 ff., etc. 

^ Cf. however the JVar of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, p. 157. There is 
nothing irreconcilable in the two accounts. 

* War of the Gaedhil ivith the Gaill, p. 176 ff. 


Plait, son of the King of 'Lochlainn,' and 'a brave champion 
of the foreigners' (i.e. the Norsemen), had challenged Domh- 
nall, a warrior on Brian's side, the night before the battle ; 
and now he stepped forward in front of the Irish host crying 
three times "Faras Domhnall?"(5'va?' es, 'where is,' Domhnall ?) 
Domhnall answered and said " Sund, a snithing " (Here, 
O nidingr, 'wretch') ! 

' They fought then, and each of them endeavoured to 
slaughter the other; and they fell by each other, and the way 
that they fell was, with the sword of each through the heart 
of the other ; and the hair of each in the clinched hands of 
the other. And the combat of that pair was the first [of the 

Then the hosts came together and a tremendous fight took 
place, lasting from sunrise to sunset, from tide to tide^ 

'And each party of them remembered their ancient ani- 
mosities towards each other, and each party of them attacked 
the other. And it will be one of the wonders of the day 
of judgment to relate the description of this tremendous 
onset^...It appeared to the people of Ath Cliath (Dublin) 
who were watching them from their battlements, that not more 
numerous would be the sheaves floating over a great company 
reaping a field of oats ; even though two or three battalions 
were working at it, than the hair flying with the wind from 
them, cut away by the heavy gleaming axes, and by bright 
flaming swords. Whereupon the son of Amhlaibh (i.e. King 
Sigtryggr), who was on the battlements of his tower, watching 
them said : " Well do the foreigners reap the field," said he ; 
"Many is the sheaf they let go from them^".' 

The Irish annalist continues in words which recall passages 
of the Darradarljdd" { 1, 9): 

'There was a field, and a ditch, between us and them, and 
the sharp wind of the spring coming over them towards us ; 
and it Avas not longer than the time that a cow could be 
milked, or two cows, that we continued there, when not one 
person of the two hosts could recognize another... we were so 

1 War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, p. 191. 

2 16., p. 175. 3 lb., p. 191. 


covered, as well our heads as our faces, and our clothes, with 
the drops of gory blood, carried by the force of the sharp cold 
wind which passed over them to us. And even if we attempted 
to perform any deed of valour we were unable to do it, because 
our spears over our heads had become clogged and bound with 
long locks of hair, which the wind forced upon us, when cut 
away by well-aimed swords, and gleaming axes ; so that it was 
half occupation to us to endeavour to disentangle, and cast them 
otf. And it is one of the problems of Erinn, whether the 
valour of those who sustained that crushing assault was 
greater than ours who bore the sight of it without running 
distracted before the winds or fainting^' 

There fell Earl SigurSr of Orkney defending the famous 
raven banner^ and there fell Murchadh, eldest son of King 
Brian, and a countless host of men on either hand. 

According to Njdls Saga King Sigtryggr commanded one 
wing of the host; but the Irish annals are unanimous in 
declaring that he watched the battle with his wife from the 
fortifications of Dublin, and this is no doubt correct. Even 
his troops were apparently not engaged ; for the Irish are said 
to have forborne from attacking Dublin through fear that 
Sigtryggr's men would come out and attack theml 

According to the Irish chronicle^ King Brian was kneeling 
on a cushion with his psalter, 'for he would not fight on a holy 
day^' His end is told with characteristic picturesqueness by 
the Irish annalist. After a watch kept by Brian's attendant 
which vividly recalls the watch kept by Sister Anne in the 
Bluebeard story, BroSir was seen approaching with two 

' One of the three who were there, and who had been in 
Brian's service, said "Cing, cing," said he, " this is the king." 
"No, no, but priest, priest," said Br6t5ir. "It is not he but a 
noble priest." " By no means," said the soldier, "that is the 

' War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, p. 183. 

- For further details, cf. str. 6 below, note. Cf. also Njdls Saga, ch. 157 ; 
Thorsteius Saga Sidukalssonar, ch. 2. 
3 War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, p. 209. Cf. also p. 211. 
•• lb. p. 197. 
* Cf. hyds Saga, ch. 157. 


great king Brian." ' Then BrotJir turned aside and slew King 
Brian and was afterwards slain himself ^ 

This great battle which was regarded by bards and annalists 
alike as one of the greatest in Irish history^ was the occasion 
of many poems which are scattered up and down the Irish 
annals ^ and elsewhere ^ It is said in both the Norse and 
Irish authorities to have been accompanied by strange visions 
and portents ^ One of these visions is thus described in 
Njdls Saga (ch. 156) : 

' On the morning of Good Friday the following event 
happened in Caithness. A man called DorruSr was out 
walking and saw twelve persons ride in a body to a dyngja^ 
where they all disappeared. He went to the dyngja and 
looked in through one of the windows and saw that there 
were women inside and they had set up a loom. Men's heads 
served for weights, men's entrails for the weft and warp, 
a sword for the "beater in" and an arrow for the hrxll. They 
sang the following verses.' 

At this point the saga inserts the poem Darra(^arlj6&, after 
which it continues as follows : 

'Then they pulled down the web and tore it asunder, and 
each of them kept the part she had hold of. DorruSr now 
turned away from the window and went home. And they 
mounted their steeds, and rode six to the south and the other 
six to the north. Brandr, the son of Gneisti, had a similar 
vision in the Faroes,' 

1 The War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill and the Annals of Loch Ce are 
silent as to BrolSir's slayer. According to Njdls Saga he was slain by Ulfr 
the Quarrelsome ; according to Thorsteins Saga Sid'uhalssonar, ch. 2, by 
Ospakr his own brother. 

2 It is the climax to which the War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill works 
up and with which the work abruptly closes. It is also the opening entry and 
the starting-point of the Annals of Loch Cd. Its importance however is 
literary rather than historical. Sigtryggr continued to reign over Dublin for 
many years. 

^ War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, pp. 205, 207 ; Keating's History of 
Ireland (Ir. Text Soc), Vol. ni, Section xxv, p. 277. 

4 Cf. Njdls Saga, ch. 157. 

5 Cf. the War of the Gaedhil ivith the Gaill, p. 173 ; Thorsteins Saga 
Siif'uhalssonar, ch. 2; Annals of Loch Ce, pp. 7 — 11. 

« Dyngja, generally used in Iceland for the ladies" bower. Originally it 
would seem to have meant a room for weaving, as a rule partly or wholly 
underground ; cf. early German dung (tunc), textrina. 


It is o^iMierally ao^reeii that ' DiirniLir' is a myth and owes his 
existence to the expression vefr darrafSar in str. 4, An easier 
explanation would be provided by the name of the poem 
Darradm'ljiUy as suggested by Munch', if this was current 
when the stoiy was written down ; but none of the Mss. give 
a title to the poem. It is worth noting that the expression 
ve/r darraiSar occurs in Egill Skallagrimsson's Hofudlausn 
(str. 5) which is said to have been composed in 936. Accord- 
ing to F. Jdnsson- DarraSr ('Dorro|7r ') is a name of Othin ; but 
other scholars take the expression to mean ' web of the spear.' 

Of the date and authorship of the poem we know nothing. 
The majority of scholars, including S. Bugge^ F. J6nsson'*, 
E. Mogk', etc. believe it to have been composed not very 
long after the battle, whether in the British Isles or in 
Iceland, the latter view being favoured by F. Jdnsson. 
Heusler® on the other hand thinks that it dates from a later 
period, and that it was based on stories of the battle ' in saga 
form,' though he admits that there is nothing to prevent its 
being as early as the eleventh century. Others'" again have 
suggested that the poem was not originally connected with 
the battle of Clontarf, and in this connection we may 
perhaps note that it contains no proper names except 
Irar in str. 8. So far as I am aware, however, no scholar 
appears to have stated the grounds for his view in any detail. 

The poem was known, perhaps in ballad form, in Orkney in 
the latter part of the eighteenth century. In Lockhart's 
Life of Sir Walter Scott (Edinburgh, 1902), Vol. iv, p. 223 ff., 
the following passage occurs : 

' A clergyman. . .while some remnants of the Norse were yet 
spoken in North Ronaldsha, carried thither the translation of 
Mr Gray, then newly published, and read it to some of the 

1 Det norske Folks Historic (Christiania, 1853), Part i, Vol. ii, p. 648, foot- 
note. 2 Brennu-Njdlssaga (Halle, 1908), p. 415, note to str. 4. 

3 {Norsk) Historisk Tidsskrift, 1901, Vol. ii, pp. 75 f. 

•• Den Islandske Litteraturs Historic (Copenhagen, 1907), p. 78. 

^ Geschichte der Norwegisch-Isliindischen Literatur (Strassburg, 1904), 
p. BTC). 6 Eddica Minora (Dortmund, 1903), p. ui. 

" Rosenberg, Nordboernes AandsUv, Vol. i, p. 376 f. ; Steenstrup, Nornian- 
nerne (Copenhagen, 1882), Vol. iii, p. 170. 



old people as referring to the ancient history of their islands. 
But so soon as he had proceeded a little way, they exclaimed 
they knew it very well in the original, and had often sung it 
to himself when he asked them for an old Norse song ; they 
called it The Enchantresses' 

It is not impossible that the poem may have come from 
Iceland to Orkney at some time during the Middle Ages or 
possibly even later; but as it stands, the external evidence, 
taken in connection with the reference to Caithness in the 
saga, certainly points to the north of Scotland rather than 
to Iceland. 

The evidence contained in the poem itself, however, presents 
certain difficulties. It has been mentioned that it contains no 
proper names except the word Irar. The historical informa- 
tion which it gives may be summed up as follows : (1) a great 
battle is taking place, which concerns a young king for whose 
safety and success the spell is being sung (str. 4, 5, 6, 10) ; 
(2) a mighty chief {rikr granir), also described as jarlma&r, 
(str. 7) is slain ; (3) the Irish also are suffering a disaster 
which will never be forgotten (str. 8); (4) the people who 
hitherto have been confined to the outlying headlands will 
now rule the country (str. 7). 

It is to be observed that while (2), (3) and (4) of these items 
are mentioned only in one strophe — or rather half-strophe — 
each, the 'young king' is the subject of four out of the eleven 
strophes, and there can be no doubt that it is with him that 
the poem is primarily concerned. It cannot therefore be 
derived from the only Icelandic form of the story (Njdls Saga) 
which has come down to us; for there the sympathy is obviously 
on the side of Brian, while Sigtryggr appears as a cunning 
enough but by no means heroic character. The Icelanders who 
were present in the battle had gone there in the following of 
Earl Sigurt5r, not of Sigtryggr ; nor was the latter a man of 
any great distinction, although he reigned for more than half 
a century. 

The facts pointed out above would seem rather to point to 
Dublin as the original home of the poem. King Sigtryggr's 
followers might regard the battle as no great misfortune, and 


look forward to victories over the Irish in the future. But 
other difficultiesstill remain. According to the Irish authorities, 
which are both earlier and fuller than the Norse, Sigtryggr 
took no part in the battle, so that the working of the spell for 
his safety would seem to be superfluous. Why too should the 
youth of the king be so frequently mentioned ? His father 
died in 980 and he himself became king in 988, so that he 
cannot have been far short of forty at the time of the battle. 
I am inclined therefore to suspect that the poem was com- 
posed for some other occasion, probably in Ireland', and that 
it only became associated with the battle of Clontarf at a later 
period, whether in Orkney or in Iceland. We know that the 
early years of Sigtryggr's reign were disturbed, e.g. in 993, 
when he was ejected for a time from Dublin; but few details 
of these events have been preserved. It is not impossible, 
however, that it was originally concerned with some earlier 
king, e.g. with the earlier Sigtryggr, who in the year 919 
defeated and slew the high-king Njall Glundubh in the 
neighbourhood of Dublin — an event which would certainly 
seem to suit str. 7 more appropriately than anything that we 
know of in the history of the later Sigtryggr. It is perhaps 
worth pointing out that in that case the use of the expression 
vefr darra&ar by Egill in 936 could be satisfactorily explained 
as due to our poem. The expression itself may have been 
suggested by the Irish word morevglaim, ' the great woof of 
war,' which occurs in The Song of GarolVs Sword-, dating 
from 909. 

I It is of interest to note in this connection that the word gagar (str. 3, 
1. 4) is a Gaelic loan word. Irish elements are distinctly discernible also in 
the account of the battle in the prose of Njnls Saga — in tlie miraculous 
healing of the arm of Brian's servant, and in the joininj^ of Brian's head to 
his body after it had been severed. These elements are in all probability 
derived "from the lost Brjdns Saga (cf. p. 118 below). We may compare the 
account in the Three Fragments of Annals (ed. J. O'Donovan, Dubliu, ls60, 
Vol.1, p. 45 f.), of the miraculous joining of Donnba's head to his body. Munch 
snggested (Det nor:ike Folks Historie, Christiania, 1853, Part i, 2, p. 647) with 
much probability that the story of the battle may have been brought to 
Iceland by Thorstemn, son of Hallr 4 Sidu, who stayed for some time with 
Kert5jiilfatSr after he had surrendered to him (cf. Xjdls Saga, eh. 157) ; but I do 
not think this explanation will hold good for the poem, which would seem 
thus to have been composed in Dublin, and later to have found a home in the 
north of Scotland. 

- An annotated text and translation of this poem are given by Kuno 
Meyer in the Revue Celtique, Vol. xx (1899), p. 9 ff. ; and in the Gaelic 


The folloAving short piece occurs in Njdls Saga, ch. 157, 
just after the I)arra&arlj6& (cf, p. 114 above). It is intro- 
duced as follows : ' Earl Gilli in the Hebrides dreamed that 
a man came to him and gave his name as Herfinnr and said 
that he had come from Ireland. The Earl dreamed that he 
asked him for news from that quarter. The man recited 
this verse.' 

Here follows the fragment given below : 

Vask ]7ars bragnar bortSusk, brandr gall ^ Irlandi, 
margr )>ars moettusk torgur; malmr gnast i dyn hjalma; 
s6kn l^eira frdk snarpa ; SigurSr fell i dyn vigra ; 
aSr tceSi ben bloeSa; Brjann fell ok belt velli\ 

' I have been in Ireland where heroes were fighting and 
many a sword was clashing as shield met shield — the steel 
was shivered in the crash of armour. Fierce I know was 
the encounter of those warriors. SigurSr fell in the crash of 
spears, but the blood was already pouring from his wounds. 
Brian fell but won the victory.' 

Nothing definite is known as to the origin and date of 
the poem, though, like the DarTa&arljd&, it may have been 
preserved in the Brjdns Saga\ 

In order to understand clearly the metaphor which is 

worked out so fully in the first two strophes of the Darra^ar- 

Ijdd', it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the old 

upright or perpendicular loom (vefsta&r, vefstoll) which was 

still in common use in Iceland in the latter half of the 

eighteenth century''. 

Journal, Vol. x (1900), p. 613 ff. (cf. especially bis note on the variant 
readings of morenglaim). The translation has also been reprinted in Ancient 
Irish Poetry"^ (London, 1913) p. 72, by the same author. Similar terms 
are not unknown elsewhere in Norse and in other Teutonic languages, 
e.g. Helgakvid'a Hundingshana. i, str. 3 f., Beotvulf, 1. 697 ; but I do not 
know of any parallel so close as the Irish one given above. 

1 dyn hjalma, cf. 1. 3, dyn vigra. — Kennings for battle. 

Some editors omit the stop after bloscfa. Cf. Asmundarson's ed. and the 
Orkneyinga Saga (Rolls Series), Appendix, p. 362. The translation would 
then be, 'Brian fell but won the battle before his wounds began to bleed.' 

2 Cf. F. J6nsson's ed. of Brennu-Njdlssaga, p. xxxff. 

3 Accounts of the Norse upright loom and the technical terms used in 
connection with it are to be found in the Antiquarisk Tidsskrift (Copen- 


The root principle of all weaving is the rapid passing to 
and fro of a single free thread of yam (i.e. weft thread) 
alternately under and over a series of parallel threads of 
yarn (i.e. warp threads). This process is represented by the 
e.xpression vinda vef. To ensure a durable fobric, care must 
be taken in simple weaving, as in the ordinary darning 
stitch, that the weft thread is never placed under the same 
thread of warp in two consecutive passages. To facilitate 
the weaver's task the threads of the warp are invariably 
stretched and held taut, generally by weights. 

In the old Icelandic upright loom the warp threads (vefr) 
are attached to a thick rounded bar of wood (rifr) which 
revolves freely in two wooden sockets at the top of two 
upright wooden posts (hleinar). A beam (skaft) or, later, 
two or even several beams, rested on wooden pegs {skaftillir) 
in the middle of the hleinar. To this skaft are attached the 
ends of a number of threads. At the unattached ends are 
loops through each of which is threaded every alternate 
warp thread. The backward and forward movement of the 
skaft thus serves to decussate the warp threads in much the 
same way as the heilds of a modern horizontal hand loom. 
Naturally the shed, or space between the warp threads, is 
widened and work facilitated by the addition of a second 
skaft. The ends of the warp opposite to the rifr are 
weighted (kljdd'r), singly or in groups, by heavy stones 
(kljdsteinar), which hang freely and hold the warp taut. 
The work of the reed in the modern hand loom seems to 

hagen, 1846 — 1848), p. 212; A. Barlow, History and Principles of Weaving 
(London, 1878), p. 58 ff. ; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities 
(ed. Smith, Wayte and Marindin, London, 1890—1891), s.v. Tela; Fritzner, 
Ordhorj over det gamle norske Sprog (Christiania, 1886 — 1896), s.v. vefr, akeiS 
(f. (2)), hrmll, etc. Further references may be made to K. Leems, Beskrivelse 
over Finiiuirken.-; Lapper, published (English translation) in Pinkerton's 
Voyages and Travels (London, 1808), Vol. i, p. 447; N. M. Petersen, 
Historiske Forttellinger om Islmndernes Fterd hjemme og nde (Copenhagen, 
1862), Vol. II, p. 3.50 ff.; E. Sundt, Folkevennen for i8(;,5, p. 59 ff. Sub- 
sequent accounts of Norse and Icelandic weaving have been based for the most 
part on 0. Olavius's CEkonnmisk Reise gjennem Island, Soroe, 1772, Vol. i 
(2nd ed. Amsterdam, 1780, Vol. ii, 630). His account, however, is far from 
clear (cf. p. 120 below), and the above descriptions all require to be checked by 
the account given by Mr Ling Roth of some practical experiments made by 
him on these upright looms. Cf. his pamphlet Ancient Egyptian and 
Greek Looms, published in 'Bankfield Museum Notes,' Second Series, No. 2 
(Halifax, 1913), p. 34 ff. 


have been done by different implements at different periods, 
and on this point there is no consensus of opinion among 
experts. It seems to be clear, however, that at any rate a 
part of this work was done by the skei^, a large smooth 
spear-shaped implement of whalebone. It may have been 
used also to 'sley' or force up^ the threads of the weft so that 
they should lie close together to give the necessary firmness 
to the fabric. This work appears to have been performed 
in some cases by a comb-shaped implement, and the skeifi 
inserted into the shed, as its shape suggests, to give the 
necessary blow to the comb from below. Mr Roth however 
declares- that he can get no good results from sleying the 
threads of the upright loom with this ' comb.' 

The same vagueness unfortunately exists as to the use of 
the hrasll, a small sharp implement of bone or hard wood 
hanging from the rifr by a cord. It would no doubt be 
used to separate the threads of the warp, preparatory to 
threading them through the loops of the heilds ; and it may 
also have been used for adjusting the weft threads from 
time to time. It is to be noted, however, that in Olavius's 
account of the Icelandic loom the hrxll and the skeiS are 
both said to be used for ' beating in ' the weft ; but the 
description is obscure in many other points also, and Mr Roth 
is of the opinion^ that the hriell was used as a preliminary 
to the skei(S. He refers to the statement of N. Annandale {The 
Faroes and Iceland, Oxford, 1905, p. 195 f.) that he obtained 
in the Faroes a beater-in (' weaver's sword ') made of a whale's 
jaw or rib. Such an object would probably serve the purposes 
of both a hrsell and a skei&, having approximately the shape 
of the former and the dimensions of the latter. The shuttle 
was unknown, and the weft threads were pushed through 
the warp by hand. ^ 

1 It is to be observed that on the upright looms of the North the cloth 
was woven downwards, the first weft thread being inserted at the top of the 
warp and sleyed upwards. 

"^ Cf. H. L. Roth, Ancient Egyptian and Greek Looms (' Bankfield Museum 
Notes,' Second Series, No. 2, Halifax, 1913), p. 20 and footnote. 

* Ancient Egyptian and Greek Looms, p. 35. 


Tilt' t'ol lowing are the more important MSS. of Njdls Saga 
in which the poem has been preserved': 
F : Reykjabdk (AM. 468), c. 1800. 
A : Mddruvallahok (AM. 132), c. 1850. 
I : Grdskinna (Gl. Kgl. Saml. 2870), c. 1300 (17th C. 

E : Oddahuk (AM. 4(56), 15th Century. 

Ms. I is incomplete, and for the portion which includes 
the Darra&ai^ljod' we are dependent on a seventeenth century 
transcript. The text of the poem which it offers is on the 
whole the most reliable ; but its readings often require to 
be checked by a comparison with the other three MSS. I have 
therefore taken I as the basis of my text, indicating the most 
important of the variant readings in the footnotes below. 

The metre of the poem is Foniyr^dislag. Cf. p. 78 above. 

1 Cf. Jon Thorkelsson, ' Om handskrifterne af Njala' in Njdla, Vol. ir 
(Copenhagen, 1889), p. 649 ff. Cf. also p. 579 ff.; F. Jdnsson's edition of 
Brennu-Njdlssaga (Halle, 1908), p. xlii ; Heusler, Eddica Minora, p. xriViii. 



1 Vitt es orpit^ fyr valfalli 
rifs*^ reiSisky^, rignir bloSi ; 

nil's fyr geirum grar upp kominn 
vefr verJTJoSar sas^ vinur fylla 
rauSum vefti® Randves bana*. 

2 S4s orpinn vefr' yta |7ormum 
ok harSkljaSr^ hofi5um manna; 
eru dreyrrekin dorr® at skofbum, 
jarnvarSr^" yllir", enn orum hraelaSr^^; 
skukim ^^ sla sverSum sigrvef l^enna. 

3 Gengr Hildr vefa" ok Hjorjjrimul, 
SanngriSr^^, SvipuP^ sverSum tognum^''; 
skaft mun gnesta, skjoldr mun bresta^®; 
mun hjalmgagarr i hlif koma. 

4 Vindum^", vindum vef darratSar, 
sas ungr konungr atti fyrri ; 

fram skulum ganga ok^" i folk vaSa, 
J^ars vinir vdrir vapnum skifta. 

5 Vindum, vindum vef darraSar, 
ok siklingi slSan fylgjura ; 

J>ar sja^^ bragna^ blo&gar randir 
Gunnr ok Gondul psers grami hlifSu^^. 

6 Vindum, vindum vef darraSar, 
)?ars ve vaSa vigra manna; 
l^tum eigi lif bans farask^ ; 
eigu valkyrjur vals^^ um kosti.' 

1 A ; orffit I ; orpinn E ; orf(inn) F. ^ reifs I. ^ -sky om. E, F, I. 

* pmr er A,l; pmr E, F. ^ om. E. 

* A ; Randves likal; randverks bla E ; randversk bla F. "^ vefr orpinn I. 
^ -kliaprmes. ^ davggrE. ^'> iarnvaraS'E,; iarvarSr 1. ^^ ylliF,E. 

12 A, I ; hrselaff E ; hrmlar F. '» A, E, F ; skal I. " at vefa I. 

1^ SangriSr A ; ok Sandg(ri)cfr I ; Sangnicfr F ; SavgniS{r) E. 

1^ Sipul F ; om. I. i7 tognum A, I ; rekna E, F. 

1* skopt munu gnesta, en skildir munu bresia I. ^^ I om. this strophe. 

20 Jlokk E. 21 sia E, F, I ; sd^i A. 

22 em. Thorkelsson and Gislason; bragnarF,, F ; bara A; bera I. 

23 A, E, I ; fylg&u F. 24 uj ^er svaraz F. 
25 E, F, I (margin); vigs A, I (text). 



1 A loom has been set up, stretching afar and portending 

slaughter and a rain of blood is pouring. Upon it has 

been stretched a warp of human beings — a warp grey 
with spears, which the valkyries are filling with weft of 

2 This warp is formed of men's entrails, and is heavily 
weighted with human heads. Blood-stained javelins 
serve as heddles, the spool is shod with iron, the hriell 
is formed of arrows, and it is with swords that we must 
sley this web of battle. 

3 Hildr is going to weave, and Hjor]?rimul, SanngriSr and 
Svipul with drawn swords. The spearshaft will snap, the 
shield will be cleft, and armour will be pierced by the 
render of the helmet. 

4 We are weaving, weaving the web of the spear. Young 
is the king who owned it in the past. Forth must we 
step, and make our way into the battle, where the arms 
of our friends are clashing. 

5 We are weaving, weaving the web of the spear, and we 
shall continue to aid the hero. Then Gunnr and Gondul 
who have guarded the prince will look upon the bloody 
shields of warriors. 

6 We are weaving, weaving the web of the spear, while 
the standard of the valiant warrior is advancing. We 
shall not suffer him to lose his life. It is for the valkyries 
to determine who shall be slain. 


7 peir munu lySir londum raSa, 
es litskaga at5r um bygSu ; 
kveSk rikjum gram raSinn dau(5a ; 
niis fyr oddum jarlmacSr^ hniginn. 

8 Ok munu Irar angr um biSa, 
)»ats aldri mun ytum fyi-nask ; 
mis vefr ofinn, enn vollr i-oSinn ; 
munu um lond fara laaspjoll gota. 

9 Niis ogurlegt um at litask, 

es dreyrug sky dregr^ meS himni ; 

mun loft litat'' lytJa bl6t5i, 

es soknvarSir'' syngja^ kunnu*'. 

10 Vel kvaSum" ver um konung ungan 
sigrljotJa^ ^olS" ; syngjum heilar ! 
Enn hinn nemi es heyrir a 
geirfljoSa^" lj<^S", ok gumum segi^-. 

11 RiSum hestum hart'^ lit berum 
brugSnum sverSum a braut heSan. 

1 saklauss maifr 1. ^ es...dregr: at dreyrugt sky dregsk A, 1. ^ litask I. 
* em. F. J6nsson ; spar varar E, F ; spar var&ar A ; pa er sokn vardar I. 
5 A, I ; springa E, F. ^ om. A. 

' kvdSu E ; kveSu A ; k[ra)Su F. ^ sigrhlio^a A, E, I; sigr hliSa F. 

9 A, F ; flioff E, I. i« I; geirljoSa A ; geirhljoSa E, F. 

" hljoSl; Jljod E ; fjoldf A, F. ^^ a, I ; skemti E, F. '» AUz A. 


7 The people who have hitherto occupied only the out- 
lying headlands shall have dominion over the land. I 
declare that death is ordained for a mighty prince. — 
Even now the earl has been laid low by the spears. 

8 The Irish too will suffer a sorrow which will never be 
forgotten by men. Now the web has been woven and 
the field dyed crimson. The news of the disaster will 
travel throughout the world. 

9 It is ghastly now to look around, when blood-red clouds 
are gathering in the sky. The air is being dyed with the 
blood of men, while the maidens of battle are singing. 

10 Many spells of victory have we chanted well for the 
young king. May we have luck in our singing! And may 
he who hearkens to the spear-maidens' lay learn it and 
tell it to men. 

1 1 Let us brandish our swords, and gallop our barebacked 
steeds out hence and away. 



Egill Skallagrimsson, the most important of all the poets 
of Iceland, was born about the year 900 at Borg in Borg- 
arfjorSr, where his father Skallagrimr had settled on his 
departure from Norway in 878, The story of his life, together 
with what remains of his poems, is preserved in the saga 
which bears his name, and which appears to have been 
written down about the close of the twelfth century. At an 
early age Egill showed signs of a truculent and unruly dis- 
position. He went abroad for the first time about the year 
915 with his elder brother Thorolfr, and spent the next ten 
years in Norway. His conduct there brought upon him the 
hostility of Eric (B165ox), son of King Harold the Fair- 
haired, and more especially of Eric's wife Gunnhildr. In 
consequence of this the two brothers had to leave Norway. 
They went to England and took service under King Aethel- 
stan whose territories were threatened with invasion by 
' Olaf the Red,' who is represented in the saga as King of 
Scotland. In the campaign which ensued Thordlfr was 
killed. Egill was handsomely rewarded for his services by 
King Aethelstan, and shortly afterwards went back to 
Norway, where he married AsgerSr, his brother's widow. 
With her he returned home to Iceland (about 927). Some 
years later, hearing of the death of his wife's father, he again 
visited Norway to claim her share of the property. The 
claim was disputed by the husband of his wife's sister who 
alleged that AsgerSr was illegitimate. Egill again incurred 
the wrath of Eric who was now king, and his life was saved 
only by the efforts of the baron Arinbjorn, a relative of his 
wife. Eventually Egill murdered both the rival claimant and 
a young son of the king, and then escaped to Iceland. In 
936 he again set out for England to visit King Aethelstan, 
being unaware that Eric had been expelled from Norway 
and was now established under Aethelstan at York. Egill's 


shi[) was wrecked at the mouth of the Humber, but he suc- 
ceeded in finding his friend Arinbjorn, who persuaded him 
to compose a panegyric on King Eric (the HofuiSlami}), by 
means of which he was enabled to save his life. After some 
time spent with King Aethelstan, and another short visit to 
Norway, he returned home to Iceland (about 938). He was 
again in Norway for about two years (about 950 — 952) ; but 
apart from this he spent the rest of his life in his native 
land. He occupied the family home at Borg until after his 
wife's death (about 973), when he gave it up to his son 
Thorsteinn. After this he lived with his stepdaughter 
Thordis at Mosfell, where he died about 982. Besides Thor- 
steinn he had two sons, both of whom died young (about 
960), and two daughters, one of whom (ThorgerSr) was 
married to Olaf Pai, and is a prominent character in the 
Laxdiela Saga. 

Three of Egill's longer poems have been preserved — the 
Hofu^lausn, composed at York in 936, the Sonatorrek, an 
elegy on the loss of his two sons, and the Arinhjarnar- 
drdpa, composed in honour of his friend Arinbjorn. The two 
latter are believed to date from about 960. In addition to 
these, he is known to have composed at least three other long 
poems, one of which (the A&alsteinsdrdpa) was a panegyric 
in honour of King Aethelstan, composed about 926. Of this 
the first verse and the refrain have been preserved and are 
given below. The saga contains also a large number of 
single strophes, which are said to have been composed by 
Egill on various occasions. 

Egill's poems, more especially the shorter pieces, are 
typical examples of the highly artificial style of composition 
cultivated by the poets of his day. The extravagant kennings 
render them distasteful to the modern reader, and this 
distaste is intensified by the habit of interweaving two or 
more co-ordinate sentences, which are not always easy to 
disentangle. Indeed it must have required considerable 
familiarity with the art to apprehend the poet's meaning 
when he was declaiming them. At the same time, they are 
of considerable interest for the light which they throw on 


the man's character, in addition to the information which 
they give in regard to the life and thought of the times. 

The most important texts of Egils Saga are contained in 
two vellums, AM. 132 (M), dating probably from about the 
middle of the fourteenth century, and the Wolfenbuttel MS. 
( W), which is of about the same date but incomplete — and one 
paper MS. AM. 453, copied, apparently, in the seventeenth 
century, from a MS. (K), dating from about 1400, of which 
only a small fragment (AM. 162 E) now remains. Of these 
MSB. M is in every way the best. According to F. Jonsson 
the remaining mss. are of no independent value. 

As specimens of Egill's style I have selected (1) two 
strophes from ch. 55, which form a short elegy on the death 
of his brother Th6r61fr, (2) the opening strophe and the 
refrain — all that is preserved — of his panegyric on King 
Aethelstan, also from ch. 55, (3) the elegy (Sonatorrek) on 
the deaths of his two sons, from ch. 78. 

With regard to the two former pieces it is to be observed 
that according to the saga the war against ' Olaf the Red ' 
broke out very shortly after Aethelstan had succeeded to the 
throne. Thorolfr and Egill offered their services to the king, 
and the former was given an important command in the 
army. In the fighting which followed he was killed, but the 
English were victorious, largely owing to Egill's bravery. 
Olaf was slain, and his army was dispersed. 

It is clear that the saga, which was not written down until 
about the year 1200, is inaccurate in several particulars. In 
' Olaf the Red ' two distinct persons appear to be confused. 
Anlaf (OMfr), son of Guthfrith, King of Dublin, and his ally 
Constantine, King of Scotland; but neither of them was 
killed in battle against Aethelstan^. The battle described in 
the saga is said to have taken place shortly after Aethel- 
stan's accession, and many years before King Eric was 
expelled from Norway (935). It cannot therefore be the 
Battle of Brunanburh which was fought in 937^, in spite of 
the similarity between the names Vinhei&r and Vind and 

1 Cf. p. 61 ff. above. - Cf. p. 59 ff. above. 


the name Weondini which Symeon of Durham' gives to the 
Battle of Brunanburh. It would appear rather bo have been 
an earlier attempt on the part of Anlaf to reclaim the king- 
dom from which his father Guthfrith had been expelled. 
In the saga Egill is represented as reciting the following 
strophes at his brother's funeral on the battlefield ; but the 
expressions joi-d' groer, etc. (str. 1), and vestan (str. 2), rather 
suggest that they were composed at some later date, pre- 
sumably after the poet's return to Iceland. 

1 Gekk sas 63isk ekki*, jarlsmanns bani, snarla, 
)?reklunda5r fell pundar porolfr i gny stdrum. 
JorS groer, enn v6r verSum, Vinu nser of minura — 
helnauS es J?at — hylja harm, ^gsetiim^ barma. 

2 Valkostura hl(53k vestan vang fyr merkistangir, 
6tt vas el ]?ats-* sottak Asils blaum^ NatJri ; 
ha?5i ungr viS Engla Aleifr j^rumu® stala; 
helt, ne' hrafnar sultu, Hringr a® vapna pingi. 

1 Th(5r61fr the bold-hearted, the slayer of the earl, he who 
feared nothing, strode forth valiantly and fell in Thundr's 
great uproar. Near Vina the earth is green over my 
noble brother. That is a deadly sorrow; but we will sup- 
press our grief. 

2 In the West I covered the ground with heaps of slaughter 
in front of my standard. Violent was the storm which I 
brought upon ASils with my black Adder. The young 
Aleifr raised a tempest of steel against the English. 
Hringr busied himself in the clash of weapons, and the 
ravens did not go hungry. 

The other strophe is all that remains of a drdpa or 
panegyric poem in honour of Aethelstan, which Egill is also 
represented (ch. 55) as having produced shortly after the 

' Uistoria Dunelmemis Ecclesiae (Rolls Series), cap. xviii ; Historia 
liegum, ib. § 83. 

2 oin. W. 3 em. F. JoDsson, dgatan M; agimtan W, K. 

•« M, W ; />at K. » vief bl. K. « olafr Primn M, W. 

7 par er W ; meSan K. « at W. 

K. 9 


pa orti Egill drapu um ASalstein konung, ok er i )?vi kvaeSi 
J>etta : 

Nu hefir foldgnarr felda — fellr jor3 und niS Ellu — 

hjaldrsnerrandi, harra hi3fut5baSmr, J?ria jofra. 

ASalsteinn of vann annat — alt's Isegra kynfraegjum — 

her sverjum )^ess, hyijar hrannbrjotr^l — konungmanni. 

Enn ]7etta er stefit i drapunni: 

N6 liggr heest und hraustum hreinbraut ASalsteini. 

Then Egill composed a panegyric upon King Aethelstan, 

which contained the following strophe : 

The scion of kings... he who rouses the battle into fury, 
has now laid three princes low. The land falls into the 
hands of Ella's kinsman. Aethelstan has accomplished 
yet more. Here we swear it, O distributor of gold ! 
There is nothing so noble as a royal person of renowned 

And this is the refrain of the poem : 

The highest mountain ridges are now subject to the 
valiant Aethelstan. 

The Sonatorrek appears to have been composed some 
thirty-five years after the poems given above. It is preserved 
in ch. 78 of the saga, where an account is given of the cir- 
cumstances from which it arose. 

Egill had bought timber from a ship which had come up 
the White River, and his son BoSvarr, then about seventeen 
years of age, went with the men on an eight-oared boat to 
bring it home. A storm arose and the ship foundered, and 
the whole crew were drowned. 

Egill heard the same day what had happened and went 
to look for BoSvarr's body. Having found it he rode with it 
to Digranes and placed it in the family barrow beside his 
father Skallagrimr. Then he rode home to Borg, and went 
straight to bed and locked himself in. No one dared to dis- 

1 em. F. Jousson; ms. hannhrjdtr. 


tiirb him, and he lay thus for two days without food or (h'irik. 
But on the third morning his wife AsgerSr sent a mes- 
senger to bring their daughter ThorgerSr from HjarSarholt. 
ThorgerSr set oft' immediately and rode to Borg with two com- 

' AsgerSr greeted her and asked whether they had had 

ThorgerSr replied in a loud voice : " I have had no supper, 
and I will not have any till I arrive at Freyja's home. I think 
that the best thing for me to do is to follow my father's 
example. I have no wish to survive my father and my 

She went to the bedroom and called out : " Father, open 
the door. I want us both to go the same journey." 

Egill undid the lock, and ThorgerSr stepped up into the 
bedroom and closed the door ; she lay down on another bed 
that was there. 

Then Egill said : " You have done well, daughter, in want- 
ing to accompany your father. You have shown how greatly 
you are devoted to me. — How could it be expected that I 
should want to live under such a burden of grief?" 

After this they were silent for a while. 

Then Egill said : "What are you doing, daughter? Are you 
chewing something ? " 

" I am chewing samphire," she replied, " because I think it 
will do me harm ; I am afraid that otherwise I may live too 

"Is samphire bad for people?" asked Egill. 

"Very bad," said she ; " will you have some?" 

" Why not ? " said he. 

A little while after she called out and asked them to give 
her a drink. Then they gave her a drink. 

Then Egill said : " It is always so with those who eat 
samphire. — They grow more and more thirsty." 

" Would you like a drink, father?" says she. 

He took it and gulped down a deep draught. It was in a horn. 

Then said ThorgerSr : " Now we have both been tricked. 
This is milk." 



Then Egill, who had the horn to his lips, took a great bite 
out of it and threw it down. 

Then ThorgerSr said : " What shall we do now ? Our plan 
is spoilt. I think it would be best now, father, for us to pro- 
long our lives, so that you could compose an elegy on BoSvarr, 
and I will carve it on a rod, and after that we can die if we 
like. I hardly think that your son Thorsteinn could compose 
a poem on BoSvarr, and it is not right that he should not be 
celebrated ; — for I do not think that you and I will be at the 
feast when he is waked." 

Egill said that he was not likely to be able to compose 
anything, even if he attempted it : " However I will try," 
said he. 

Egill had had another son called Gunnarr, and he also had 
died a short time before. Then Egill began the poem 

Egill began to recover his spirits as he proceeded with the 
poem. And when it was finished he took it to AsgerSr and 
ThorgerSr and his household. Then he left his bed and took his 
place in his high seat. He called that poem Sonatorrek. After- 
wards Egill had a funeral feast made for his sons according 
to ancient custom ; and when ThorgerSr went home, Egill 
saw her off and gave her presents. Egill dwelt for a long time 
at Borg and lived to a great age.' 

The Sonatorrek is preserved in the saga almost entire. It 
is composed in the Kvi&uhdttr — a variety of the old epic 
metre in which three- and four-syllable half-verses alternate. 

It will be seen that the metaphors in this poem are of a 
somewhat different kind from those which occur in court 
poetry, reflecting as they do rather the life of the Northern 
farmer, e.g. the beehive, the boathouse, building timber, 
grafting, and possibly the steelyard — and the same remark 
may perhaps be made in regard to the type of mind which 
the poem reveals. Other metaphors, however, are drawn 
from the mythology current among the poets of the time, 
e.g. the references to Ran, ^Egir and Othin. Egill's allusions 
to the gods do not seem to be of a very serious character either 
here or in his other poems — with the exception of a strophe 
in ch. 56, where he invokes them, evidently with great gusto, in 


a curse upon King Eric. His attitude towards the gods may 
be contrasted with that of Th(')rolfr of Mostr towards his ' dear 
friend Thor,' or that of Hrafnkcll Freysgot5i, who 'loved Freyr 
so much that he gave him half of all the best things that 
he had,' including a horse. Yet although the tone of Egill's 
references to the gods are characteristic of the times, some of 
the allusions to religion in the poem are of a somewhat 
unusual character. In particular we may notice the refer- 
ences to immortality in str. 10 and 21, in connection with 
which it is perhaps worth remembering that Egill had been 
for some time in Aethelstan's service, where he had been 
primesigned and must have acquired some knowledge of 

Unfortunately the text of the poem is in a far from satis- 
factory condition. It is preserved for the most part only in 
K, the worst of the Mss. referred to on p. 128 above. Strophe 1 
is found also in M and W, and str. 23 and the first half of 24 
in the Prose Edda (Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 2). I have followed 
the text of K^ as given by Finnur Jonsson in his edition of 
Egils Saga (Copenhagen, 1886 — 1888), except in strophe 1 
and in other cases where departure from the MS. reading 
appeared necessary. No exhaustive collation of the readings 
of the various MSS. seems ever to have been published, and 
in many cases it is very difficult to make out from the 
editions what readings have MS. support. The editions of 
Vigfusson and Powell (Corpus PoeticumBoreale, Oxford, 1883) 
and of F. Jonsson {ed. cit, also Copenhagen, 1913) contain a 
very large number of emendations. In some of these cases 
F. Jdnsson himself seems to have gone back to the MS. reading 
in his edition of Egilsson's Lexicon Poeticum'. 

1 As represented by AM. 453. 

^ Lexicon Poeticum Antiquae Linguae Septentrionalis, revised and re- 
edited by F. J6nsson (Copenhagen, 1913 — 1916). 



1 Mjok enim^ tregt tungu at hrcEra 
6t loftatt^ IjoS pniSara^*. 

Era nu vsent^ 6r* ViSurs* )>yfi, 
ne hogdroegt or hugar fylgsni. 

2 Esa au^peystT\ pvi at ekki veldr 
hofuglegr, or hyggju staS 
fagnafimdr i^riggjar^ nisja, 
arborinn or Jotunheimum. 

3 Lastalauss *es lifnaSi 

d Nokkvers nokkva Bragi*. 
Jotuns hals undir J>j6ta^ 
nains niSr fyr naustdurum, 

4 pvit att min a enda stendr 
*sem hrsebamar hlinr mark a*. 
Esa karskr matJr, sds koggla" berr 
frsenda hrors af fletjiim ni?5r". 

5 p6 raunk mitt ok moSur hror 
fbSur fall fyrst um telja, 

psit berk ut or orShofi 
mserSar timbr mdli laufgat. 

6 Grimt varumk hlis J?ats hronn um brant 
fbSur mins a frsendgarSi. 

Veitk ofult ok opit standa 
sonar skarS, es mer sser um vaim. 

7 Mjok hefr Ran ryskt um mik ; 
emk ofsnau(5r at astvinum. 
Sleit marr^^ bond minnar attar, 
snaran^^ |?att af sjalfum mer. 

1 M, W ; er Mm K. ^ m_ W; edr loptvxi K. » M, W ; -pundara K. 

* vsBnlegt K. ^ M, W ; Jtm K. « Vidris K. ^ em. G. Pilsson ; and- K. 

8 em. G. Palsson ; ^riggia K. » fiota K. " J^augla K. 
^i em. Dietrich; ridfur K. ^^ viars K. ^^ om. K. 



1 It is very difficult for me to set in motion with my tongue 

a lofty poem There is now nothing to be hoped for 

from Othin's spoil. It is not easily to be drawn from the 
recesses of my soul. 

2 The happy discovery of Frigg's relatives, brought long 
ago from Jotunheimar, cannot easily be made to flow 
from the depths of my heart ; for it is repressed by heavy 

3 Faultless... Ymir's streams are roaring down in front of 
the entrance to my kinsman's grave-mound. 

4 For my line is drawing to an end, like the of the 

forests battered There is no happiness in the man 

who is carrying down from his house the last remains of 
one of his fixmily. 

5 Now first I will tell of my own, his father's loss, and of 
his mother's bereavement. Such is the timber, clad with 
foliage of diction, which I will bring forth from my temple 
of speech to build my edifice of poetry. 

6 The rent which the waves have made in the pale of my 
father's family has been harrowing to me. Empty and 
unoccupied I see the place from which the sea has torn 
my son. 

7 Greatly has Ran afflicted me. I have been despoiled of 
a dear friend. The sea has rent the ties of my kindred 
and torn a stout thread from me myself 


8 Veizt eP sok sverSi um raekak, 
vas olsmiS allra tima. 

*Ro3a vagsbroeSr um voga mgettak, 
foerag andvigr Mgis mani * 

9 En ek ekki eiga^ );6ttumk 
sakar afl viS sonar^ bana. 
pvit al)>j63 fyr augum verSr 
gamals pegns gengileysi. 

10 Mik hefir marr miklu rsentan, 
grimt es fall frsenda at telja, 
sit5an's minn a munvega 
attar skjoldr aflifi hvarf. 

11 Veitk J?at sjalfr at i syni minum 
vasa* ills J?egns efrii vaxit, 

ef sji randviSr roskvask nseSi, 
unz Hergauts hendr um toeki. 

12 iE let flest J?ats fatJir mselti, 
]>6tt oil )>j63 annat segSi ; 

ok mer upp belt um Aerbergi^ 
ok mitt afl mest um studdi. 

13 Oft kemr mer *ma biarnar* 
i byrvind broetJra leysi ; 
h3'ggjumk um es hildr )7r(5ask, 
nysumk bins ok hygg at jfvi, 

14 hverr m6r hugaSr a hliS standi 
annarr J^egn viS oSrgeSi ; 

J>arfk J?ess oft *of her giaurum* 
verSk varfleygr es vinir )?verra. 

15 Mjok's torfyndr sas triia knegim 
ofalJ?j63 elgjar galga, 

J?vit niflgoSr niSja steypir 
brdSur her vi3 baugum selr. 

^ em. G. Palsson ; um pa K. ^ eigna K. •* em. F. Jonsson; su&s . 
* var K. 5 em_ Wis^n ; verbergi K. 


8 Know that if I could have avenged my cause with my 
sworI, the ale-brewer would have been no more 

9 But I felt that I had not strength to contend with the 
destroyer of my son. The helplessness of the old man 
will be manifest to all. 

10 Greatly has the sea robbed me. It is harrowing to speak 
of the loss of kinsmen — from the time that the shield of 
my kindred passed from this life to paths of bliss. 

1 1 I know it of my own conviction ; — the promise of a good 
man would have matured in my son, if that martial soul 
had been allowed to ripen until the hands of the War God 
had embraced him. 

12 Ever did he attach most value to his father's words, even 
when all the world gainsaid me; he upheld me in my 
house and was the chief stay of my strength. 

13 The void left by the brothers often comes into my 

I wonder — I cast about me and meditate upon the 

question where, when the conflict rages, I shall find 

14 another spirited knight who wall stand by my side in the 
struggle. I have often had need.... I will take to flight 
prudently, now that my friends are vanishing. 

15 It is very difficult to find anyone in the world... whom 
we can trust; for... he who debases his kindred barters 
here his brother for treasure. 


1 6 Finnk J>at oft, es fear beisir 

17 pat's ok maelt at mangi getr^ 
sonar iSgjold, nema sjalfr ali, 
ne- J>ann niS es oSrum se 
borinn maSr i broSur staS. 

18 Erumka )?ekt jTJoSar sinni, 
p6tt ser hverr sdtt um haldi. 
Burr's byskips i bee kominn 
kvdnar sunr kynnis leita. 

19 Enn m6r *fanst* i fdstum )>okk 
hrosta hilmir a hendi stendr. 
Maka upp *i aroar grimu* 
rynis reiS rettri^ halda, 

20 siz sun minn sottar brimi 
heiffcuglegr or heimi nam, 
]?anns^ ek veit at varnaSi 
vamma vanr^ vi5 mmaeli®. 

21 pat mank enn es upp um hof 
i GoSheim Gauta spjalli 
dttar ask )>anns ox af mer, 
ok kynviS kvanar minnar. 

22 Attak gdtt vis geira drdttiu ; 
gerSumk tryggr at trua hanum, 
aSr vinat vagna runi'', 
sigrhdfundr^, um sleit viS mik. 

23 BlcBtka^ pvi broSur Vilis, 
goSjaSar^", at gjarn" seak, 

J?6 hefir Mims^'^ vinr mer um fengnar^^ 
bdlva boetr, es et^* betra telk^^ 

1 em. G. Palsson ; einginn geti K. ^ em. G. Magnaeus ; alitue K. 

- 8 em. G. Palsson ; rjetti K. * em. Wis^n ; J>ann K. 

^ em. F. J6nsson ; var K. ^ em. B. M. Olsen ; nammli K. 

^ em. Vigfusson ; runne K. ^ sigrhaufunde K. 

9 em. Wis6n ; blotka K; biota Sn. EddaU; blotka ek ei af, Sn. Edda AM. 
10 gudjarjyar Sn. Edda; gods- K. " gjarna Sn. Edda R. 

i'-* em. Dietrich; viis- K; niins- Sn. Edda W ; minnis Sn. Edda U. 
i» fengit Sn. Edda. " ef hit K. i' so Pfeiffer, telde K ; telz Sn. Edda W. 


16 I find generally that when money is claimed 

17 It is also said that no one can obtain compensation for a 
son, unless he raise up a second son to himself, nor will 
he get a man who is the son of another to take the place 
of his adopted brother. 

18 The society of mankind is unpleasing to me, even though 
everyone keeps the peace. My child, the son of my wife, 
has gone to seek his companions in the beehive dwelling. 

19 But... the ruler of the malt brew stands confronting me 
in unyielding mood. I have not been able to hold upright 
my vehicle of knowledge 

20 since the raging fever snatched from the world my son 
who, as I can aver, led a blameless life and kept himself 
free from reproach. 

21 I remember still how the friend of the Gautar raised up 
to the home of the gods a shoot of my stock sprung from 
me, the sapling from my wife. 

22 I was friendly with the Lord of the Spear ; I trusted him 
without misgiving until the Lord of cars, the awarder of 
victory, broke friendship with me. 

23 It is not because I am eager to do so that I am wor- 
shipping Vili's brother, the chief of the gods. Yet Mimir's 
friend has granted me compensation for my misfortunes 
which I account as a substantial benefit. 


24 Gafumk I)?r6tt ulfs um^ Mgi, 
vigi vanr, vammi firrSa, 

ok ]7at geS es gerSak mer 
visa fiandr af ^ velondum. 

25 Erumk^ torvelt. Tveggja baga 
njorvanift A nesi^ stendr. 
Skalk p6 glaSr gd'Sum^ vilja 
ok ohryggr Heljar bitSa. 

^ U ; ofc K. 2 em. G. Magnaeus ; ad K. ^ nu er mier K. 

* nesin K. ^ em. Wis6n; me^ goSan K. 


24 The foe of the wolf, long tried in battle, granted me fault- 
less art and a disposition which has enabled me to expose 
the hostility of secret foes. 

25 Hard is my lot. The giant sister of Othin's adversary is 
standing on the headland. Yet will I gladly await my 
death, with a good will and without regret. 



The following poem is preserved in ch. 12 — 15 of the 
Saga of Hervor and Hei&rekr. Unlike the rest of the pieces 
contained in this volume it belongs definitely to heroic 
poetry, and its nearest affinities are with the heroic poems 
of the Edda, especially perhaps with the Atlakvi&a, which 
it resembles both in language and subject, as will be pointed 
out below. In some respects indeed it would seem to be of 
a more historical character than the heroic poems of the 
Edda. It presents clearly the national features of the in- 
vasion which it describes — thus avoiding the usual tendency 
of Norse poetry to lose sight of the national in the personal, 
and to represent great wars as struggles between wealthy 
families. We may note too that the special characteristic 
of the Huns — their wealth in horses — is more prominent 
here than anywhere else. All these features go to show the 
antiquity of the poem, or at least of the poetic tradition on 
which it is based. 

It is clear that much of the prose in the part of the Saga 
of Hervor and Hei&rekr to which our poem belongs is a close 
paraphrase of lost verses. This and other questions relating 
to the history of the poem have been discussed by Heusler\ 

The same scholar, following Heinzel-, holds that certain 
features of the poem point to a continental South Teutonic 
origin — such as e.g. (1) words and phrases used in a sense 
which is familiar to us from German but not from Norse 
poetry; e.g. skalkr, str. 10; par i Hunalandi, str. 2 ; Angantys 
mapr, str. 27, etc.; (2) the frequent verse conclusion v^ ^; 
e.g. 2, 1 ; 10, 2; 14, 1 ; 15, 2, etc. ; (3) the construction saxi 
ok me& sver&i, etc., strophes 2, 7. Some of these, if they 

1 Eddica Minora (Dortmund, 1903), p. xiii ; cf. also Heinzel, ' Ueber die 
Hervararsaga ' in Sitzungsherichte der philoaophisch-historuchen Classe der 
kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Vienna), Vol. cxiv, p. 457. 

2 Cf. 'Ueber die Hervararsaga,' p. 449 ff. 


are not of foreign origin, must be regarded as indications of 
considerable antiquity. S/calhr, although bearing the re- 
quired sense both in England and Germany, is used in Norse 
elsewhere only in the sense of ' rogue '^ 

There are many expressions used in the poem which recall 
Atlahvi&a, Helgakvitfa Hundingsbana II and other early 
heroic poems. Some of these will be pointed out in the 
notes below. We may notice too the curious resemblance 
between the opening of this poem and that of the Atlakvi&a. 
In each case a messenger (seggr) is sent by a prince to the 
hall of his enemy to demand an interview. On entering 
he finds the occupants seated at a feast, and proceeds to 
announce his message. We may further compare the cata- 
logue of treasures and possessions offered by Atli to Gunnarr 
(Atlakvi&a, str. 4, 5) with the very similar list demanded 
by HloSr from Angantyr (Battle of the Goths, etc., str. 7, 8), 
In each case the reply is accompanied by a second cata- 
logue. The scene of both poems is laid in the same country 
and indicated by place-names and descriptions (sometimes 
of an unusual character) which are common to both, such as 
sto&um Danpar (B. of G., str. 8 ; Akv. str. 5), hris Jyat et 
ms&ra es Myrkvit^r heitir (B. of G., str. 8 ; Akv. str. 5). 

Some of the names which are found in our poem and the 
Atlakvida occur also in the opening strophes (as well as 
in the prose introduction) of the Volundarkvi&a. We hear 
there of three valkyries, of whom one is called Hervor 
(daughter of HloSver), the same name as that of Angantyr s 
warrior sister. One of her companions is called Olriin, 
whose father's name Kiarr occurs also in the Atlakvi&a,stT. 7. 
After spending seven years with Yolundr and his brothers 
they fly away d Myrkvan vi(S to resume a life of warfare. 

Confused reminiscences of the story seem to be preserved 
in Saxo's Danish History, (1) in the names Humblus and 
Lotherus, Book i, p. 2, etc.; (2) in the incident of Eric's 
visit to the army of the Huns, Book v, pp. 190 f, 194 f. 
The sources from which Saxo derived his information are 

1 Heinzel, op. cit., p. 459 f. ; but see note to str. 10 below (p. 202). 


uncertain, but Olrik^ holds that (1) comes from Danish 
tradition, while (2) is to be traced to Icelandic-Norwegian 
sources. Much of the latter story is given by Saxo in verse, 
and it is possible that the tradition reached him partly in 
the form of poems. His narrative contains some elements 
which are not found in the Hervarar Saga but which j^et 
appear to bear the stamp of antiquity. 

The characters of the story were also known to the poet 
of Widsith. In 1. 116 Angantyr and Hlo&r and perhaps Sifka 
appear again as Incgenpeow and Hlipe and Sifeca, though 
the context seems to suggest that the last-named was a 
man. Ormarr is certainly the Wyrmhere of 1. 119, and no 
doubt there is a reference to the Goths (Hre&gotan) in the 
Hreeda here who are mentioned as occupying the forest on 
the Vistula {Wistlawudu) in 1. 121. If this forest is to be 
identified with the MyrkviSr of our poem, as seems likely, 
the story probably refers to the struggle between the Goths 
and the Huns towards the close of the fourth century. It is 
to be noted that the JEtlan leodum of Widsith 1. 122 may 
be merely a periphrasis for Huns^. 

Various attempts have been made to identify the battle, 
RajQi^ regarded it as identical with that described by Jordanes, 
ch. 17, as taking place between the Goths and the Gepidae, 
and held that the name of the River Aucha (Goth, ahwa 
' river ') appears in the first element of Arheimar. On the 
other hand Heinzel * suggested the battle fought on the Cata- 
launian Plain in 451 a.d. between the Romans and Visigoths 
on the one hand and the Huns and Ostrogoths under Attila 
on the other. This view has been accepted by F. Jonsson^, 
Mogk^, Olrik'', etc.; but it is improbable, as Chambers* 
points out, that the name of an unknown leader (Humli) 

1 Cf. ' Kilderne til Sakses Oldhistorie,' in Aarb. /. Nord. Oldk. og Hist. 
1892, p. 130 f. 

2 Cf. V. Jagi(5, 'Slavisciies in nordischen Sagen,' in Archiv fUr Slavische 
Philologie, Vol. xi, 1888, p. 308. 

^ Antiquites russes (Copenhagen, 1850), Vol. i, p. lllf. 
■* ' Ueber die Hervararsaga,' p. 465 ff. 

* Den idandske Litteraturs Historic (Copenhagen, 1907), p. 344. 

* Geschichte der Norwegisch-Isldndischen Literatur (Strassburg, 1904), 
p. 838. ^ Danmarks Heltedigtning (Copenhagen, 1910), Vol. ri, p. 228. 

8 Widsith (Cambridge, 1912), p. 48. 


shoulil havt' boon substituted for that of the famous Attila 
who figures so hirgely in Teutonic tradition. 

The name Myrk-vi&7' means ' dark forest,' and may well be 
a general term for any part of the forest region of central 
Europe, or what we may perhaps call the traditional forest 
land of heroic poetry. I see no reason why it should not be 
used in this poem for the Wistlawudu of Widsith, which is 
mentioned in close connection with Wyrmhere (Ormarr) 
and which must be located in Poland. This would harmonise 
better than any locality in the West with the references to 
the Dniepr. It is worth noting too that the words and 
Harva&a fjollum, which occur in a verse in ch. 12, just 
before the beginning of the poem, may preserve an early 
Teutonic form of the name of the Carpathians^ 

The fact that we cannot identify any of the characters 

ti-om historical sources is natural enough, if the scene of the 

poem is to be placed in a part of Europe which was outside 

the horizon of Roman historians. It is commonly assumed 

by modem writers that the Goths evacuated their old home 

in the third century, when we lirst hear of them on the 

lower Danube. But there is no satisfactory evidence that 

these early movements of the Goths were due to anything 

more than an expansion, such as we find later, e.g. among 

the Franks and the Alamanni. It must be remembered 

that the Romans were as a rule aware only of movements 

in the neighbourhood of their own frontiers. Apart from 

vague rumours, they had no means of ascertaining whether 

a remote region had been evacuated. If the whole nation 

had migrated at this time, the remembrance of their old 

home would scarcely have been preserved in Anglo-Saxon 

poetry. The passage cited above from Widsith supplies 

definite evidence — the trustworthiness of which I see no 

' This identification was suggested by Vi^fusson (^Corp. Poet. Bor., Vol. i, 
pp. 349, 352). Heinzel {op. cit., p. 499) preferred to connect the name with 
the Chorrati, a Slavonic people who in later times — at least from the ninth 
century onwards, and probaljly much earlier — were settled on the northern 
side of the western Carpathians (cf. Zeuss, Die Deut.scheii, p. 621 f. ; Jagic, 
op. cit., p. 307); but the two ideutiticatious are not mutually exclusive, for 
the Chorvaii may have obtained tbeir name from the Teutonic form of tlie 
name for the mountains. For the explanation of the latter see Streitberg, 
Vrgermanische Gramniatik (Heidelberg, 1896), p. 136. 

K. 10 


reason for doubting — that there was a Gothic population in 
Poland till at least towards the close of the fourth century. 
On the other hand, by the beginning of the sixth century 
the Slavs are found on the line between the Danube and 
the 'peoples of the Danes \' so that some time before this 
Poland must have ceased to be a Teutonic area. Moreover, 
as there is no reference to Attila, the events described in 
our poem are probably to be regarded as having taken place 
before his time. Several names in the poem are clearly old, 
e.g. Danpar, Grytingar, and probably Jossurr, Gizurr, Dylgja'-. 
The presumption is that the story was dealt with in poetry 
at an early period, either by the Goths or some neighbouring 
people, and subsequently made its way to the North. 

The only early (vellum) MSS. of the Hervarar Saga which 
have survived are the Haukshok (H), AM. 544, which breaks 
off in ch. 11, and the Codex Regius (R), no. 2845 in the 
Royal Library at Copenhagen, which breaks off in str. 10 of 
our poem. From this point we are entirely dependent on 
paper MSS., dating for the most part from the seventeenth 
century. Of these AM. 192 (i), AM. 202 (k), AM. 582 (1) 
and Salanska Saml. 80 of the University Library at Upsala 
(u) all appear to be derived from a lost seventeenth century 
MS. This lost MS. appears to have used both H and R for the 
earlier chapters of the saga, and there is no reason for doubting 
that it did so also in the later parts which are now lost in 
the vellums. The relationship between i, k, and 1 is very 
close, and no doubt all three are derived from the lost seven- 
teenth century MS. through a common intermediary. Again, 
k and 1 sometimes show points in common which differ from 
i, and k contains corrections made by the scribe himself as 
well as by Arni Magnusson. The fourth paper MS. (u) some- 
times offers better readings than the other three, and some- 
times shows textual corruptions not found in them. It is no 
doubt derived from the lost seventeenth century MS. through 
a different intermediary. 

1 Procopius, Gothic War, II, xv, 3. 

^ Cf. notes to these names, p. 198 ff. below. 


A further MS., Holm. no. TiO (s), which belongs to the 
k, 1 group, contains additions and corrections tVoin the hand 
of the Icelander Guinuiudr Olaffson (-f-1695)'. 

According to S. Bugge^ the remaining Mss. have no inde- 
pendent value. Their variant readings rarely merit con- 
sideration, and only as emendations. Such is AM. 345 (a), 
which Bugge holds is based on 1 or on a closely related MS., 
probably influenced by u. It is ou this MS. that Rafn's 
text is based. The following text is, with the reservations 
stated below, substantially that of Bugge as published by 
him in Norr^ne Skrifter af Sagnhistorisk Indhold (Christiania, 
1873), though the text of Heusler and Ranisch^ has been 
consulted throughout. Bugge based his text as far as str. 10 
on R, with occasional readings from the paper MSS. After 
R stops he made a text from a collation of the paper MSS., 
occasionally adding or transposing passages on the authority 
of other poems and of the prose of the saga. I have followed 
his text for the most part only in so far as it has the authority 
of the MSS. of the Hervarar Saga. 

The metre may be described as a combination of Fornyr- 
tSislag and Mdlahdttr, somewhat similar to w^hat is found in 
the Atlakvid'a and the Ham&ismdl. As in these poems, there 
is a considerable amount of irregularity, half lines of three 
and six units being found. In the texts which have come 
down to ns alliteration is frequently wanting, and in several 
cases it is doubtfid whether passages should be printed as 
prose or verse (e.g. strophes 18, 26 ff.). The explanation may 
be either that the verses have been forgotten, or that the 
author of the saga was paraphrasing rather than quoting. 
Emendations based on metrical considerations are therefore 
better avoided^. 

• For further details relating to the paper mss. cf. Bugge, Introduction to 
his edition of Hervarar Saga in Norr^ne Skrifter af Sai/nhistorisk Indhold 
(Christiania, ls73); Heiiizel, 'Ueber die Hervararsaga,' pp. 417 — 437; 
Heusler and Ranisch, Eddica Minora (Dortmund, ly03), p. viif. 

2 Loc. cit. ; cf. also Heinzel, op. cit., p. 433 ; Heusler and Kanisch, loc. cit. 
=> Op. cit., p. 1 ff. 

* I have, however, in conformity with the plan adopted in the other pieces, 
followed Bugge and the other editors in giving the usual poetic forms instead 
of the late forms which frequently occur in the mss. 




1 Ar kvatJu Humla Hunum^ rdSa, 
Gizur Gaiitum, Gotum Anganty^ 
Valdar Donum, en Volum Kiar^ 
Alrek^ enn froekna^ Enskri J?j63u. 

2 HloSr vas )>ar« borinn i Hunalandi'' 
saxi ok meS^ sverSi, siSri^ brynju, 

., hjalmi" hringreifSum, hvossum" maeki, ^ 
j/ mari vel tomum^^ a mork enni helgu. 

3 HloSr reiS austan^^ HeiSreks arfi", ' 
kom hann^^ at garSi par es Gotar^** byggja 
a Arheima, arfs at kveSja^'', 

J?ar clrakk Angantyr erfi HeiSreks^^. 

4 Segg fann hann uti fyrir sal havum, f 
• ■ ok siSforlan siSan kvaddi : 

' Inn gakktu, seggr, i sal havan, 
:- bis m^r Anganty andspjoll bera.' 
Sa gekk inn fyrir konungsborS ok kvaddi Anganty 
konung vel, ok mselti siSan : 

5 -, ' Her es HloSr^" kominn HeiSreks arff^egi^", 
3 broSir J^inn enn beSskammi"^; 

!■ mikill es sa maSr mjok^^ 4 marsbaki; v 
?/ vill nu, J?j63ann-^, viS |?ik tala.' 

6 Rymr vas i ranni ; risu meS goSum, 
vildi hverr heyra hvat^^ HloSr mgelti, 
ok Jjait^^ es Angantyr andsvor veitti. ' 

^ s ; the rest Jir (firir) her. ^ Angantyr, a, i, k, 1. 

^ Kiar K, i; Vollwu Akjar a. * Alfrek s; Alfrekur i, k, 1 ; Alrekr E. 

5 s; frcekni the rest. ® R, i ; /« k, 1, a ; om. s. 

'■ R, s ; Humla landi i, k, 1, a. ^ om. s. " ok meif siSri s. 

w R, 1 ; om. a, s. i' ok hvossum a, k, 1, s. i- R, i ; tomdum a, k, 1, s. 
1^ R, i ; utan a, k, 1, s ; sunnarm u. 

1* So all Mss. according to Bugge ; mogr R (Rafn). ^^ R ; om. the rest. 

1" R; of. also prose Gotum Angantyr; Oaiitar a, i, k, 1, s. 
1'' R, i ; krejja a, k, 1, s. i" s ; erji Heidreks konungs the rest. 

19 Hloffverr a, k, 1. 20 r . arji u. 

21 becfskam{m)i R, i; beSrammi a, k (?), 1, s ; bandskai (for hauSskdi, Bugge) u. 

22 a, i, k, I ; m'ogr n; xmgr R. ^^ R ; pjocfaas a, i, k, 1. 
2* hvat er a ; pat er s. ~^ em. Bugge ; pat mss. 



1 Long ago, according to the story, Humli ruled the Huns, 
Gizurr the Gautar, Angantyr the Goths, Valdarr the Danes, 
and Kiarr the Vahir, while Alrekr the Bold ruled the 
English nation. 

2 HloSr was born in the land of the Huns in a holy forest, 
with cutlass and with sword, with ample coat of mail, 
with treasure-decked helmet, with keen blade, and with 
well-trained steed. 

3 HloSr, Hei?5rekr's heir, rode from the east, till he came 
to Arheimar, to the court where the Goths dwell, to 
demand his inheritance. There Angantyr was holding 
HeitJrekr's funeral feast. 

4 Outside the lofty hall he met a man who had arrived late, 
and thereupon addressed him : 

' Enter, sir, the high hall and bid Angantyr hold parley 
with me.' 

He entered and stood before Angantyr's table and 
saluted the King, saying : 

5 ' Thy base-born brother HloOr, HeiSrekr's heir, has come 
hither. Very mighty is the man as he sits on his steed. It is 
his wish that he may speak with thee forthwith, O King.' 

6 A clamour arose in thi- hall. They stood up with the 
hero ; everyone was anxious to hear what HloSr had said 
and the answer which Angantyr would give. 


Da mselti Angantyr: 'Vel p\i kominn, HloSr br6?5ir^; 
gakk inn meS oss til drykkju, ok drekkum mjoS eftir foSur 
okkarn fyrst til sama ok ollum oss til vegs meS ollum varum 
sdma.' HloSr segir : ' Til annars foru ver hingat, enn at 
kyla vomb v^ra ' ; J^a kvaS HloSr : 

7 '' 'Hafa vil ek halffc alt^ J?at es HeiSrekr atti, '- 

'; al^okafoddi, einum skatti, ^ 
i. kii ok af kalfi, kvern )y6tandi,if 
i_ py ok af Israeli ok peiva barni*. tr 

8 ^ ' hris J'at et^ ma^ra*' es MyrkviSr heitir'^, - 
<^ grof ]7a ena helgu^ es stendr a Gotf>j6Su^ 

.; stein j^ann enn fagra^° es stendr" a stoSum Danpar^^ 7 
I halfar hervaSir^^ J?aer" es HeiSrekr atti, -' 
J loud'' ok ly(5a'*' ok Ijdsa^' bauga.' - 

Angantyr kva3 : 

9 '■ 'Bresta'^ mun'^ br65ir, en blikhvita rond^®, 

ok kaldr geirr koma viG annan^\-.; ' 
^ ok margr gumi i gras hniga, --j 
^ dSr enu^^ Tyrfng I tvau^'' deilak^* ' / 
,_^ eSa J7er, Humlungr, halfan arf gefak-?. ' ' 

lo •: 'By?5 ek )?er, frsendi^**, fagrar veigar-'', 

fe ok-« fjolS meiSma^^ sem /^ik^" fremst tiSir; ' 
tolf hundruS gef ek j^er manna, tolf hundruS gef 

ek p6r mara, 
t61f hundruS gef ek ];'er skalka, ]7eira es skjold bera. f^ 

1 V. p. k. vel pit verir i, k, 1. ^ om. a. ^ U; af al a, i, k, 1, s, u. 

i R ; hornum a, i, k, 1, s. ^ E ; hnsi pxd enu i, k, 1, u, a {Jiinu 1, a). 

6 i ; meira R ; mxta a, k, 1, u. 

7 Myrkviffir heitn R ; -ur heita i, 1 ; -ur heitir u. 
^ a, i, k, 1, u ; enu godit R. 

» em. from str. 12: Gotii pioSar R; GocfpioSu i, u ; g'otpioSa 1; g'otu 
Ph'tpar k ; gotu piopa a. '» a, i, k, 1, u ; meira R. " E, a. 

12 u ; Damp aar R. i^ R ; herhorqir a, i, k, 1, s. " E ; om. a, i, k, 1, u. 
15 landa (-i u) a, i, k, 1, u. i^ om. ok lySa R. " R, i ; Ijosra a. 

1^ R, a, u, 1 ; hcra i, k. ■" a, i, k, 1 ; mun cicfr u ; munfyr R. 

20 s ; lind en blikhvita R ; en hlikhvita lind u ; minn blikhvita hond a, i, k, 1. 

21 em. Bugge; a7inat i, k, 1; randir a ; ok...annan om. R. 

22 a, i, k, 1 ; er u. -^ R ; i mitt a, i, k, 1. 24 ^^^,7^ r . a, i, k, 1 ; deili u. 
2'' i, k ; gefa 1, u ; ek mun Humlung halfan lata eSa Tyrfing i tvaudeila R. 
28 R ; ek mun hjoffa per, the rest. 27 til heilla sdtta R. 

28 jnikit riki ok cerit fe, xii hundniff vapnacfra R ; ck vil etc. s. 

'-■» s : meicfna a, i, k,' 1, u. ^" em. Bugge ; mik a, i, k, 

Then Angantyr spoke : 

' Thou art welcome, HloSr, my brother ; enter and take 
part in our feast. Let us first drink mead in honour of 
our father's memory, and to the glory of us all with full 

HloSr replied : 
' We are come hither for a different purpose than to fill 
our stomachs,' 

Then he said : 
7 ' I will have half of all that HeitSrekr owned — of his tools 
and weapons, his undivided hoard, cows and calves and 
the murmuring handmill, slavewoman and bondman, and 
their children with them. 

8 ' I will have half the noble forest Avhich is called 
MyrkviSr, the holy tombs which stand among the people 
of the Goths, the beautiful stones which stand at Danpr's 
abode, the raiment of battle which HeiSrekr owned, his 
lands and liegemen and his glittering treasures.' 

Angantyr replied : 
9 ' The gleaming-white shield will be cloven, my brother, 
and cold spear will clash with spear, and many a man 
will sink to the grass before I will divide Tyrfing in two, 
or give thee the half of the patrimony, thou child of 

lo ' I offer thee, my kinsman, beautiful goblets, cattle and 
abundance of jewels, whatsoever thou most desirest. 
Twelve hundred men will I give thee, twelve hundred 
steeds will I give thee, twelve hundred squires will I 
give thee, such as bear the shield. 


11 ' Mannii gef ek hverjum mart at |>iggja 
annat^ oeSra enn hann d(S7' d^; 

mey gef ek hverjum manni at J^iggja, t.- 
- meyju spenni ek hverri men at halsi*. 

12 • 'Mun ek um^ J^ik sitjanda silfri msela, . 

enn ganganda jjik*^ gulli steypa, - 
sva' a vega* alia velti baugar ; 
' }?ri?5jung GotjyoSar^ |?vi skaltu einn" rat5a.' 
Gizurr GrytingaliSi, fostri HeiCreks konungs, vas |>a meS 
Anganty konungi ; hann vas |?a ofrgamall ; ok es hann 
heyrSi bot5 Angantys konungs, j^otti honum hann ofmikit 
bjoSa, ok maelti : 

13 ' petta es l^iggjanda^" j^jyar" barni^^ '^ 

T barni'^ l^yjar" ]?6tt^^ se borinn konungi". y 
J pa hornungr^-' a haugi sat, 
• es^® oSlingr arfi skifti.' / 

HloSr reiddist nu mjcik, er hann vas }?ybarn ok hornungr 
kallaSr, ef hann ]>SBgi boS broSur sins ; snori hann |?a |?egar 
i brott meS alia sina menn, til ]?ess es hann kom heim i 
Hunaland til Humla konungs, mdSurfoSur sins ; ok sagSi 
honum at Anganty r br65ir bans hafSi [eigi] unnt honum 
helmingaskiftis. Humli konungr spurSi alt tal l^eira; varS 
hann ]?d reit5r mjok, ef Hlo3r dotturson bans skyldi am- 
battarson heita, ok mselti : 

14 'Sitja skulum^'' ver i vetr ok ssellega lifa, 
drekka ok doema dyrar veigar ; 

kenna Hiinum'^ hervajtn^'' bua, 
]?au es djarfliga skulum fram bera. 

15 r; ' Vel skulu ver^*, Hld6r, herliS biia, 

ok rammlega^^ hildi heyja^- 

meS tdlfvetra-^ mengi ok tvoevetrum fola, 

sva skal Hiina her urn safna.' 

1 manni. ..d om. k. ^ n 2, 3 om. a. ^ eui. Bugge ; a nyd'i i, 1 ; drdd'i u. 

* mKn spenni ek mri at halsi u. ^ om. a, k, 1. ^ om. i, k, 1. '' so at k. 

* u ; vegu a, i, k, 1. ^ k ; Godpiopar {God- 1) i, I ; (lod pioda u. 
'** pignjandi 1, u. " em. Bugge ; pyar mss. 1. 1; pijar 1, 1. 2. '^- barvii u. 
1* i; ok f>6tt k, 1, u. 1* konungr a, i, k, 1. ^^ Htivtlungr a. ^^ erin s, a. 
17 skulu u. 1* hvorjum u. '" s ; vdpn at hila the rest. 20 k, 1, a ; per i ; 

ver per u. -' s ; rammlegar a, k, 1 ; framlega u ; franliga i. -^ u; hildir 
hey(j)a a, i, k, 1. ^^ i, s; xii var gbmlum u; vctra gomlu k, 1, a. 


1 1 ' I will give to every man a bounteous gift, finer than 
anything that he had before; I will give to each man a 
maiden as a gift, and round every maiden's throat I will 
clasp a necklace. 

12 'As thou sittest I will encase thee in silver, and as thou 
walkest I will cover thee with rings of gold so that they 
will roll in all directions, and thereby shalt thou have a 
third part of the Gothic nation under thine own sway.' 

Gizurr, a liegeman from the Grytingar, King HeiSrekr's 
foster-father, was then with King Angantyr. He was a 
very old man at that time. And when he heard King 
Angantyr's offer, he thought that he w^as offering too 
much, and said : 

13 'This is indeed an offer for a bondwoman's child, for a 
bondwoman's child, even though his father was a king. 
When the prince divided his inheritance the illegitimate 
son was sitting on the mound.' 

HloSr now grew ver}' angry at being called the child of 
a bondwoman and an illegitimate son, if he accepted his 
brother's offer ; so he departed at once with all his men and 
returned home to King Humli, his mother's father, in the 
land of the Huns. And he told Humli that Angantyr his 
brother had not granted him an equal share. King Humli 
enquired as to all that had passed between them, and was 
very angry that HloSr, the son of his daughter, should be 
called the son of a bondmaid, and he said : 

14 ' We will stay at home for the winter and take our joy of 
life. We will quaff the costly draughts and we will hold 
council together. We will instruct the Huns to prepare 
the weapons of war which we shall bravely cany to battle. 

1 5 ' Nobly will we array a host of warriors, O HlotSr, and 
manfully will we offer battle, with troops from the age of 
twelve years, with steeds from the age of two years — even 
thus shall the host of the Huns be assembled.' 


penna vetr satu )?eir Humli konungr ok HloSr um kyrt 
um varit drdgu J?eir her saman sva mikinn at aleySa va» 
eftir i Hunalandi vigra manna.... Enn fimm J^usundir 
[varii] i hverja fylking, j^eira er ]7iettan hundruS varu i 
hverri ]?usund, enn I hvert hundraS fernir Qurir tigir ; enn 
]?essar fylkingar varu |?rjar ok j^rir tigir. Sem )?essi herr 
kom saman riSu ]?eir skog |?ann, es MyrkviSr heitir, es skilr 
Himaland ok Gotaland. Enn sem J?eir kdmu af skoginum, 
J?a vdru bygSir storar ok vellir slettir, enn a vollunum st6S 
borg ein fdgr; pur reS fyrir Hervor, systir Angantys ok 
HloSs, ok meS henni Ormarr fdstri hennar; varu J>au 
sett par til landgaezlu fyrir her Hiina; hofSu ]?au ]?ar 
mikit lis. 

pat var einn morgun um solar uppras,at Hervor stoS upp 
a kastala einum yfir borgarhlisi ; hun sa jdreyki st6ra 
sut5r til skogarins, sva longum fal sdlina ; pvi nsest sa hun 
gloa undir joreyknum, sem a gull eitt liti, fagra skjbldu 
ok gulli lagSa, gylta hjalma ok hvitar brynjur. Sa hun 
pa, at )7etta vas Huna herr ok mikill mannfjoldi. Hervor 
gekk ofan skyndilega ok kallarliiSrsvein sinn ok baS blasa 
saman liS. Ok siSan meelti Hervor: 'TakiS vapn ySur ok 
buizt til orrostu, enn p\\, Ormarr, rit5 i mdt Hunum ok bjoS 
J>eim orrostu fyrir borgarhliSi enu sySra.' Ormarr kvaS : 

i6 ■', ' Skal ek vist riSa ok rond bera ^ 
Gota^ JTJoSum, gunni at heyja.'' 

Da reiS Ormarr afborginni mot Hunum; hann kallaSi 
]7a hatt, baS ]?a riSa til borgarinnar ok mseiti: 'Uti fyrir 
borgarhliGinu su5r a vollunum pur byS ek ytJr orrostu.'... 
Enn meS pwi at Hunar hafa lit5 miklu meira, snori mann- 
fallinu i lis J?eira Hervarar; ok um sisir fell Hervor ok 
mikit lis umhverfis hana. Enn es Ormarr sa fall hennar, 
flySi hann ok allir J7eir es lifit }»agu....Ok sem Ormarr 
kom fyrir Anganty konung, p-A kvaS hann : 

17 c 'Sunnan em ek kominn at segja spjoll )7essi : • 
SviSin es oil mork- ok MyrkviSar heiSr^ ^ 
drifinn oil GotpjoS gumna bloSi. ^^ 

1 k ; Gauta i, 1, s, u; Gauta kindum (for G. pj.) a. 

2 s ; myrk u ; mork ok om. a, i, k, 1. -^ heiihi i, k, 1, s ; heitf'ur u. 


That winter King Humli and HloSr remained quiet; but 
the following spring they collected such a large army 
that the land of the Huns was swept bare of fighting 

men And there were five 'thousand' in each legion, 

each ' thousand ' containing thirteen ' hundreds,' and each 
'hundred' four times forty men; and these legions were 
thirty-three in number. 

When these troops had assembk'd, they rode through 
the forest which was called MyrkviSr, and which separated 
the land of the Huns from that of the Goths. And when 
they emerged from the forest, they came upon a thickly 
inhabited country with level fields ; and in these plains 
there was a fair fortress. It was under the command of 
Hervor, the sister of Angantyr and HloSr. and Ormarr 
her foster-father was Avith her. They had been appointed 
to defend the land against the host of the Huns, and 
they had a large army there. 

It happened one morning at sunrise that as Hervor was 
standing on the summit of a tow^er over the gate of the 
fortress, she looked southwards tow^ards the forest, and 
saw clouds of dust arising from a great body of horse, by 
which the sun was hidden for a long time. Next she saw 
a gleam beneath the dust, as though she were gazing on 
a mass of gold — fjiir shields overlaid with gold, gilded 
helmets and white corslets. Then she perceived that it 
was the host of the Huns coming on in vast numbers. 
She descended hastily and called her trumpeter, and bade 
him sound the as.-^embly. 

Then said Hervor: 'Take your weapons and arm for 
battle; and do thou, Ormarr, ride against the Huns and ofter 
them battle before the Southern Gate.' Ormarr replied : 
i6 'I will certainly take my shield, and ride with the troops 
of the Goths to give battle.' 

Then Ormarr rode out of the fortress against the Huns. 
He called loudly, bidding them ride up to the fort, saying: 
' Outside the gate of the fortress, in the plains to the 
south — there will I offer you battle.'... But the host of 
the Huns was far superior in numbers, so that Hervor's 
troops began to suffer heavy losses ; and in the end Hervor 
fell, and a great part of her army round about her. 

And when Ormarr saw her fall, he fied with all those 

who still survived And when he came into the presence 

of King Angantyr, he cried : 
17 * I am come from the south, and this is the news which I 
have to offer. The whole of the woodland and forest of 
Myrkvi3r is ablaze and all the land of the Goths is drenched 
with the blood of men. 


1 8 ' Mey veit ek HeiSreks . . . 

t systur |?ina svigna til jar3ar, ' 
'■■ hafa Hunar hana felda, 

ok marga aSra ySra )?egna. "^ 

19 'Lettari gorSist hun at bb^vi^ enn vi3 biSil roeSa/'- 
e3a i bekk at fara at bruc5ar gangil' 

AngaDtyr konungr, |>a es hann heyrSi j^etta, bra hann 
gronum, ok tok seint til orSa, ok maelti J?etta um siSir: 
' ObrdSurlega vastu leikin, en agaeta systir,' ok sfSan leit 
hann yfir hirS sina, ok vas ekki mart liS me3 honum ; hann 
kvaS psi : 

20 ' Mjok varu^ ver margir es ver mjoS clrukkum, 
nil erum* ver faeri' es ver fleiri skyldum. •> 

21 5' I- 'Sekkat ek J?ann i minu liSi, 

v p6tt ek biSja*' ok baugum kaujDa", 
es muni riSa ok^ rond bera, / 
ok |?eira^ Hiina herliS finna'".' / 

Gizurr gamli sagSi : 

22 ' Ek mun ]?ar" einskis eyris krefja, '*' 
ne skjallanda^^ skarfs or gulli ; - 

p6 mun ek riSa ok^^ rond bera, w 
Htina''' )>j6Sum herstaf'"^ bj66a.' ^/ 

Gizurr herklgeddist meS goSum vapnum, ok hljop a hest 
sinn, sem ungr vseri ; pa maelti hann til konungs : 

23 ' Hvar skal ek Hiinum hervig kenna ? ' 

Angantyr konungr kvaS : 

24 ' Kendu at^® Dylgju^'' ok a DdnheiSi, 
ok a ]?eim oUum Jossurfjollum^^; 

^ em. Bugge; littare g'orif'isk lu'm d liautfre i, k, 1 {littre 1); om. (I.) u and 
at hadni. - ad leik i sard eh ad lud geingii u. '^ varum i. * i ; eru 1. 

' fmrri a. * biiPi a. '' kaupi a. ^ em. Bugge ; i mss. 

^ Jyeir a, i, 1 ; om. k. ^^ bera u. 11 i, k, 1 ; J>ik u. 

'2 em. Bugge; skjalldandau; skuUdanda a., i, k, 1. 
13 em. Bugge ; I a, i, k, 1, u. i-* a, i, k, 1 ; gotta u. 

1^ k; gunni at a, i, 1, u (ad). ^^ a a, i, k, 1 ; ad u. ^^ a, k; Dilgiu 1, u. 
1^ losur- i ; lassar- u; lossar- a ; lossdr- k; lossar- 1? Jossa- s. 


18 T have certain knowledge that thy sister, King HeiSrekr's 
(laughter..., has fallen lifeless. The Huns have laid her 
low, and many of your warriors with her. 

19 ' More readily did she make ready for battle than to talk 
with a wooer or to take her seat at the bridal feast.' 

When King Angantyr heard that he drew back his lips, 
and it was some time before he spoke. Then he said : 
' In no brotherly wise hast thou been treated, my noble 
sister ! ' 

Then he surveyed his retinue, and his band of men was 
but small ; then he said : 

20 ' When we were drinking mead we were a great host, but 
now when we should be many our numbers are few. 

21 ' I do not see a single man in my host who, even if I were 
to beg him and offer him a rich reward, would take his 
shield and ride to seek out the host of the Huns.' 

Gizurr the old said : 
22 ' I will not ask a single ounce or ringing piece of gold ; 
yet I will take my shield and ride to challenge the troops 
of the Huns to battle.' 

Gizurr armed himself with good weapons and leapt on 
his horse as if he had been a young man. Then he cried 
to the King : 
23 ' Where shall I challenge the Huns to battle ? ' 

King Angantyr replied : 
24 'Challenge them to battle at Dylgja and on DiinheiCr 
and on all the mountains of Jossurr, where the Goths 


J?ar^ oft Gotar gunni- ha3u, " 
ok fagran sigr frsegir vagu-^'. 
Nd reiS Gizurr I brott ok ]>a,T til, es hann kom i her 
Hiina ; hann rei3 eigi nser enn sva at hann matti tala viS 
]?a ; pA kallar hann hari roddu ok kvaS : 

25 'Felratr* es ySrw' fylki, feigr es ySarr^ visir, t^ 
/, gnsefar ySr gunnfani, gramr es® ySr'' OSinn. v' 

26 L ' ByS ek y3r at^ Dylgju** ok a DunheiSi '■ 
t orrostii undir Josurfjollum'"; 

*hr8ese* ySur" at ha hvorju^-, ' 

ok lati sva OSinn flein tljuga sem ek fyrir inseli.' / 

Da es Hlo6r hafSi heyrt orS Gizurar, pa, kvaS hann : 

27 'Takid" es^^ Gizur, mann Angantys, kominn af^'' 

Humli konungr sag(5i : 

28 ' Eigi skulum^^ arum spilla, }>eim es fara einir saman.' 
...Gizurr drap J;a hest sinn sporum ok reiS a fund 

Angantys konungs ok gekk fyrir hann ok kvaddi hann 
vel. Konungr spyrr hvart hann hefSi fundit Huna. 
Gizurr maelti : ' TalaSa ek vi5 j^a, ok stefnda ek |7eim a 
vigvoU d Diinheisi ok at Dylgjudolum.' Angantyr spyrr 
hvat mikit li"5 Hunar hafa. Gizurr maelti : ' Mikit es J?eira 

29 Sex*® ein eru seggja fylki^', 

i fylki hverju fimm )?usundir^^ 
i |?usund hverri'^ ]>rettan hundruS^"; ■ 
i hundraSi hverju halir^^ fjortaldir.' 
A oSrum degi h6fu j?eir sina orrostu ; ok borSust allan 
]?ann dag ok foru at kveldi I herbuSir sinar. Deir bortSust 

1 So Verelius ; bar u ; baru i; bdru a, k, 1. 

^ So Verelius ; ok geir a, i, k, 1 ; gu u. 

'' u ; fngo k ; fehigu a, i, 1 ; 2t7niu cod. 582. 

* a; feltiir the rest. ^ era. Bugge; yS'ar mss. ^ cm. i, k, 1. 

7 u, 1 ; ora. i, k. 8 a, i, 1, u ; d k. » cf. str. 24. 10 cf_ gt^. 24. 

^^ i ; hrsEsi a ; hrmsu 1; hro si u ; om. k. 
12 i, 1, a ; at hai hvorium u ; om. k. 

1^ em. Bugge, Take (or taki) pier mss. !■* a, i, 1, u; itr k. *^ skulun. 
1* This strophe as in u ; cf. Saxo, p. 191. ^'^ vc eru I fylki i, k, 1; jimtdn 
eru fylki seggja s. ^* piisund a, i, k, 1. ^^ i hv. f>. a, i, k, 1 ; /> om. u. 

** /r. Amw. manna a, i, 1, u. ^^ u ; hdls i ; hdlfs a, k, 1. 


have often given battle, and gained a glorious victory to 
their renown.' 

Then Gizurr rode away until he came to the host of the 
Huns. He rode just within earshot, and then called loudly, 
crying : 
25 ' Your host is panic-stricken, your leader is doomed ; the 
standards are raised against you ; Othin is wroth with you ! 

26 ' I challenge you to battle at Dylgja, and on DiinheiSr, 
under the mountains of Jassurr. May every battlefield 
be covered with your corpses, and may Othin let the 
javelin fly according to my words ! ' 

When HloSr heard Gizurr' s words, he cried : 

27 ' Lay hold on Gizurr, Angantyr's man, who has come from 

King Humli said : 

28 ' We must not injure heralds who travel unattended.' 

. . .Then Gizurr struck spurs into his horse and rode back 
to King Angantyr and went up to him and saluted him. 
The King asked him if he had parleyed with the Huns. 

Gizurr replied : 
' I spoke with them and I challenged them to meet us on 
the battlefield of DiinheiSr and in the valleys of Dylgja.' 

Angantyr asked how big the army of the Huns was. 
Gizurr replied : ' Great is their host. 

29 There are in all six " legions " of warriors, and in every 
" legion " five " thousands," in every " thousand " thirteen 
"hundreds," and in every "hundred" a quadruple number 
of men.' 

Next day they began the battle ; and they fought 
together the whole day, and at evening they went to 


sva atta daga...,Dar fell HlotSr ok Hiirali konungr, ok )?a 
toku Hiinar at flyja....Angantyr gekk ])d at kanna 
valinn ok fann Hlo3 broSur sinn. pa kvaS hann : 

30 ' BauS ek per, broSir, basmir^ oskerSar^ 

5 f6 ok fjolS meiSma^, sem )>ik* fremst tiddi®; 
r nu hefir pd hvarki hildar at gjoldum, 
Ijosa baiiga, ne land ekki. 

31 ' Bblvat es okkr, broSir; bani em ek )?inn or5inn ; 
J^at mun se uppi; illr er d6mr Noma.' 

Angantyr vas lengi konungr i ReiSgotalandi; hann vas 
rikr ok orr ok herraaSr mikill, ok eru fra honum komnar 
konunga settir. 

1 So Verelius ; basnir u ; brynjur s ; om. i, k, 1. 

2 dskertar (for oskerSar) u; osker tvser a, i, k, 1. 

3 meidma s ; meidna a, i, k, 1, u. * em. Bugge; viik a, i, 1, u ; />u k. 
^ i, u ; titti a, 1 ; tOf'ir s ; girntist k. 


their quarters. They continued fighting for eight days.... 
There fell HloSr and King Humli, and then the Huns 
took to flight... .Angantyr then went to search among 
the slain, and found his brother HloSr. Then he cried : 

30 ' I offered thee unstinted wealth, ray brother, riches and 
vast treasure to the limit of thy desires ; but now thou 
hast won by thy warfare neither shining rings nor 

31 'A curse has been laid upon us, my brother; I have brought 
about thy death. This will never be forgotten. — Evil is 
the decree of the Norns.' 

Angantyr ruled ReiSgotaland as kiag for a long time. He 
was powerful and munificent and a great warrior, and 
lines of kings are sprung from him. 



1. Are gehide^. A possible alternative translation would be, ' The 
solitary man always lives to experience mercy,' etc. So Greiu, Thorpe, 
etc. But it is diificult to reconcile this translation oi gehide^ with 1. 5. 

4. Hnmcealde, a arr. Xey., lit., probably ' cold as rime,' but possibly 
'made cold by rime,' i.e. frost. The word occurs three times in Norse 
poetry, where it is applied to supernatural beings. Cf. Vafpriif^nismdl, 
str. 21 ; Fdfnis7ndl, str. 38 ; Lokasenna, str. 49, 50. 

5. Wyrd hits ful arced. Arced is perhaps adj. ; but the word is very 
rare, and the evidence as to its meaning somewhat doubtful : see B. and 
T., Suppl. s.v. I'or the sense, cf. Beowulf, 1. 455 ; Oripesspd, str. 52: Munat 
skopum vinna. 

6. Siva probably refers to what follows rather than to what has gone 

7. Wiiiemcega hryre, perhaps lit. ' Through the fall of his dear kinsmen.' 
As the text stands, hryre can hardly be taken otherwise than as a loose 
causal or comitative instrumental. For other explanations, cf. Kock, 
Lunds Universitets Arssh-tft, 1918, p. 78 ; Jacobsen, The Wanderer 
(Rostock, 1901), p. 82 ; Wyatt, Anglo-Saxon Reader (Cambridge, 1919), 
p. 263. 

13. pcet he, etc., lit. ' that he fasten securely the closet of his thoughts 
and keep his treasure chamber.' Thorpe placed a period after hordcofan 
and continues : Hycge sioa he wille, ne mceg, etc. 

17. Domgeorne. Cf. Jldvamdl, str. 77. The same idea is frequently 
expressed in Beoioulf. 

dreorigne, sc. hyge, lit. ' When it is depressed,' etc. Cf. Fragment 
of a Monitory Poem (Grein-Wulcker, Bihliothek, ii, 2, p. 280), 1. 2 : 
pinne dom areer ; 
heald hordlocan, hyge fseste bind, etc. 
It is not clear whether reserve or caution is intended. Cf. however the 
word durre, 1. 10. The same doubt arises in Hdvamdl, str. 15 : 
pagalt ok hugalt skyli J)j6l)ans barn 
ok vigdjarft vesa. 
It is much easier to find parallels for injunctions to caution than to 
reserve, e.g. Feeder Larcwidas, 11. 57, 58. Cf. also the instructions to the 
councillor in Budge, The Literature of the Egyptians (London, 1914), 
p. 227 f. : 'If thou art a wise man, and if thou hast a seat in the comicil- 
chamber of thy lord... keep silence, for this is better than to talk over- 
much.... Think much, but keep thy mouth closed : if thou dost not, how 
canst thou consult with the nobles'?' 

22. Goldwine minne. If the ms. reading were kept, goldwine mine 
would be best taken as poet. pi. for sing., which is extremely common in 
A.S. and Norse poetry. The emendation to minne however (Thorpe) 
is very slight. For this passage and what follows cf. Guplac, 1. 1325 ff. 

23. Hrusan heolster biwrah . So edd. An emendation seems necessary. 
If heolstre is kept either hruse must be read for hrusan or ic added. 
Cf. Blick. Horn. (ed. R. Morris, E.E.T.S. 1880), vii, p. 95: 'peah |>e 

NOTES 163 

hie ivr eort>e l)0\vrigon luvfdo ' ; AVulfstaii (od. A. Napier, I'orliii, 188.3), 
p. 18.3: 'Swa hwuet raanncyunes swa ooriVe icr forswealb.' 

24. Wiutercearig. See B. and T. s.v., where an alternative explanation 
(' Sad fmm age ') is suggested. The compound occurs only here, and its 
meaning is quite doubtful. Imelmanu omits in his translation (1920). 
Cf. earmcearig. Seafarer, 1. 14. 

gebind, in j-Elfric's glossary ti-uislates L. strictura. Cf. Goth, gahinda, 
'a band.' B. and T. translate ' Over the watery band,' i.e. the surface of 
the water. Grein translates strictura, ligatura, fasciculus, and compares 
Beoiculf, 1. 11.33. According to the N.E.D. (cf. Bind n. 6) the word 
'bind' is used provincially to denote a (large) quantity of anything. 
Cf. also B. and T., Suppl. s.v. 

27. Mill mine wisse. The second half verse of I. 27 is metrically 
defective if the Ms. reading is kept. Some editors suggest miltse, but 
the omivSsion of min as suggested by Klaeber is more easy to account 
for. For the phrase mine (i.e. myne) ivisse, cf. Beowulf, 1. 169 : 7ie his 
myne wisse, i.e. He had not been able to approach the throne (like a 
member of the court) and (therefore) felt no regard for it. 

29. Weriian mid wynnum. Cf. Heliand, 11. 2818, 28.32 ; Beowulf, 
1. 1821. It is not actually certain in the ms. whether wenian or weman 
is the true reading. Thorpe, Ettmiiller and Grein- have adopted the 
latter, ' entice me with good cheer.' Cf. B. and T. s.v. 

31. Lyt...leofra geholena. For lyt with a personal genitive cf. 
" " 11. 2150, 2836 ; Be Manna [Vyrdum, 1. 30 f. 

32. Wara& hine, lit. '(The thought of) his exile possesses him.' Cf. 
Heliand, 1. 1003. 

34. Selesecgas ; so Thorpe, Ettmiiller, Grein 2, Sweet, Sieper, 
Schiicking, Imelmann. Several editors, however (e.g. Rieger, Wiilcker), 
read sele, secgas. Sele-secg does not occur elsewhere. Similar compounds, 
e.g. seld-guma, sele-pegn, are found however. 

35. His goldwine, etc. For this conception of the function of a lord 
cf. Be Manna Wyrduyn, 1. 27 f. Cf. also The Wonders of Creation, 1, 91 ff. 

37. Wat se pe sceal, etc. Wat is repeated from 1. 29 ; the object is to 
be inferred from the preceding passage. 

41. pince^ him on mode, etc. Is }>yncetS...brea/i introduced as a 
parenthesis? I have translated it as the main sentence, because 1. 45 
appears to contain an anacoluthon ; i.e. the sentence ponne onwcecned', 
etc. is not a true correlative to 1. 39 ft". 

43. Swa...breac. This passage probably refers to some act of homage, 
such as the sword oath. In the Norges G anile Love (ed. Keyser and 
Munch, 1848), Vol. ii, p. 422 f., it is stated that the king (of Norway) 
is to sit on his high seat with his sword on his knees, the blade under 
his arm and the hilt on his right knee, and to take hold of it with his 
right hand. He who intends to enter the hir'iS is to advance, kneel on 
the floor, and with his right hand grasp the sword by the hilt, hold it 
downwards in front of him, then kiss the king's hand and swear 
allegiance. But in the Wanderer the reference is perhaps rather to the 
reception of any gift from the king, since it is not clear that brucan 
(cf. 1. 44) can be used inceptively. Cf. further L. M. Larson, American 
Historical Review, Vol. 13 (1907-8), p. 461, footnote 1 ; F. Tupper, 
Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. ii, 1912, pp. 97 S"., 292. 


164 NOTES 

44. Giefstolas, prob. gen. sing. ; the ending -as for -es is not unknown 
in late Mss. Possibly however ace. pi. (poet. pi. for sing.), since hrucan 
is occasionally followed by the ace. Sweet and others emend to -es. 

45. Wineleas guma. The word wineleas perhaps suggests a closer 
connection with the preceding lines than can be conveyed in a modern 
translation, for wine is especially used for a man's lord. 

46. Wegas^ for W.S. wcegas{ce). The form perhaps comes from an 
earlier text written before the W.S. type of language had come into 
general literary use. Cf. 1. 64 n. 

47. Brcedan fepra, or perhaps ' preening their feathers.' 

50. Sare may be causal instrumental of the substv. or nom. pi. of the 
adj. agreeing with henne. The latter is the more usual construction. 
Gr. Koh. take it as an adverb. 

51. OeondhweorfetS. The prefix geond- here and throughout the poem 
appears to be used in a somewhat unusual sense to mark the exhaustive 
nature of the verb ; cf. geondscemve&, 1. 52 ; geond pence, 1. 60. Cf. also 
1. 58 n. 

52. GUwstafum, a arr. Xey., the meaning of which is very uncertain. 
B. and T., Sweet, Schiicking, Imelmann, transl. 'joyfully,' Gr. Koh. 
signum Icetitiae. Thorpe transl. ' with song,' Gollancz ' with snatches of 
song.' (Cf. cwidegiedda, 1. 55 below.) The word gleo is generally used in 
the sense of ' music' In the Epinal Gloss. 398 gliu glosses facetiae and in 
lb. 550 in gliuuae glosses in mimo. The word does not occur in the other 
Teutonic languages except in Norse, where it is rare. Cf. Ham^ismdl, 
str. 7, 

53. Seega geseldan, lit. ' the companions of warriors.' The phrase 
does not occur elsewhere, but seems to be analogous to 9/lda {fira) 
hea.rn{um\ Beowulf ipass., lit. 'children of men,' i.e. men ; Denigea leode, 
Beo. 1. 696, Sceotta leoda, ' Men of the Scots,' Battle of Brunanburk, 
1. 11. We may cf. under swegles begong {Beo. 1. 860) beside under 
swegle {Beo. 1. 1078) with the same meaning. These expressions may 
be regarded as compounds in sense, just as much as peodnes dohtor 
{Husband's Message, 1. 25), but unlike the latter, they are compounds 
in which the meaning of the whole. diflfers but little from that of the 
word which occurs in the genitive. 

54. Fleotendra fertS, poetic sing, for pi. 

58. Oeond pas woruld. Cf. 1. 51 n. The literal meaning appears to 
be 'I cannot think (however extensively I search) throughout this world 
(of any reason) why my heart,' etc. ; and the entire phrase comes simply 
to denote the exhaustive nature of the action expressed by the verb. 
Cf. Christ and Satan, 11. 278, 9 : 

Uton, la, gepencan geond l)as worulde 

pset we hselende heran onginnen. 
Cf. also Dear's Lament, 1. 31. 

61. Hu hi...magupegnas, lit. 'How they, proud young squires, have 
abandoned their halls.' 

64. For pon ne mceg, etc. Cf. Gnomic Verses (Cotton.), 11. 11, 12. 
Wear pan, for W.S. wear pan. ea for eo is very common in Northumbrian 
texts, and not infrequent in Kentish. Cf. 1. 46 n. 

66, Ne sceal no, etc. Cf. Be Marina Wyrdum, 11. 48 — 50. For a similar 

NOTES 165 

category cf. \Vulfst<in's Sermons (ed. A. Napier, Berlin, 1883), p. 40, 
' Ne l)eon ge,' etc. Cf. also ib. p. 253, ' Ne syn we,' etc. 

70. lieorn seems to be equivalent to eorl, i.e. a man of tlie upper or 
military {h/iatrii/a) It is often tempting to translate both these 
pot^tit-al words by 'man,' but this is due to the fact that the typical 
man whom the poems have in view is of this class. 

73. //« gcrstlic, etc. To the best of my knowledge there is no real 
parallel to the use of the word gcestlio here. B. and T. (cf. Suppl. s.v.) refer 
to the verb gust, • to terrify.' Cf. the N.E.D. s.v. Or can the sentence 
possibly mean ' a spiritual time ' in contrast to /me worulde 1 For the 
construction cf. the Dialogue of the Soul and Body., 1. 3 : 
Huru c^ajs behofaS hselciia ajghwylc, 
})a>t he his sawle si5 sylfa ge)>ence, 
hu \>ist bii5 deoplic {)onne se deaS cymeS. 

77. Eryt5ge , a ait. Xey. B. and T. suggest either ' dismantled ' (cf. 
Norse hrjOSa., 'strip,' 'dismantle') or 'tottering' (cf. A.S. hriSian — which 
however seems properly to mean ' be feverish '). Gr. ^ Koh. suggest 
'beschneit' (cf. hri'iS., 1. 102); Kock {Lunds Universitets Arsskrift, 1918, 
'Jubilee Jaunts and Jottings.' p. 78) 'exposed to (snow) storms.' 

80. Sume wig fornom, etc. We may perhaps cf. Beoivulf, 1. 1113. In 
the following lines sum is used to introduce items in a category. The 
sum motif is a very common one in A.S. gnomic poetry, e.g. Crist, 
1. 664 flf. ; cf. also Be Marina Wyrdum and Be Manna Croeftum, 1. 53. 
Similar Usts of various forms of death to that in the Wanderer are not 
uncommon, e.g. Blick. Horn. ed. R. Morris (E.E.T.S. 1880), p. 95. 
Cf. also Wulfstan {ed. cit.\ p. 183. Klaeber believes that these 
categories are of Latin derivation (cf. Archio f. d. St. der neueren 
Sprachen, no. 126, p. 359) and compares Vergil, ^neid X, 1. 557 ff. 
Cf. Aldhelm, Carmen de resurrectione mortuorum, V, 12 ft". The wolf and 
the raven or eagle, however, are commonplaces of A.S. poetry. Cf. 
Brunanburh^ 1. 60 f. and note p. 181 below. 

81. On fortSioege, lit. ' On their journey hence.' 

sumne fugel opbipr. Cf. the passage in Blick. Horn, cited above : 
'peah J)e hie ajr eort^e bewrigen haifde...ol)l)e wildeor abiton, ot't»e fuglas 
tobaeron.' Thorpe suggested that/;f^e^ refers to a ship, Grein a vultm'e, 
Rieger an eagle. 

83. DeatSe gedaslde. Sweet suggests an emendation to deadne gedcelde, 
but this is unnecessary. Cf. Andreas, 1. 955 : 

Hie Hn feorh ne magon deaSe gedrelan, 
andl. 1215 ff.: 

Ne magon hie...|)inne lichoman...deape gedaelan. 

85. Eardgeard. The word occurs elsewhere only in Crist, 1. 55, where 
it refers to Jerusalem. 

87. Bald enta gexoeorc, a regular Saxon phrase for structures dating 
from Roman and prehistoric times. Cf. the Ruin, 1. 2, etc. ; Beowulf, 
1. 2717 ; Gnomic Verses (Cotton.), 1. 2, etc, Cf. also Ueliand, 1. 42. 
Similiir expressions are also applied to the swords etc. of earlier times. 
Cf. Beowulf, 1. 1679, etc. 

88. Wealsteal. From the description it would seem that the ruin 
which the poet has in mind must be that of a Roman building, for 
there is no Sixtisfactory evidence that the Saxons used stone for any 
save ecclesiastical buildings until a late i>eriod. The picture however 

166 NOTES 

which is drawn of the life of its former occupants is that of an English 
prince's court. For this we have a parallel in the Ruin, which likewise 
appears to deal with the remains of a Roman building. 

91. pas word acwi^. The variation in the use of the tenses in this 
poem is perhaps worth noting. The action is really timeless, but the 
past tense is sometimes used (e.g. 11. 6 and 111) in reference to the 
cases cited. 

92. Hwcer cwom, etc. It is held by several scholars (e.g. Bright, 
Mod. Lang. Notes, 8, p. 187 f. ; Klaeber, Journal of Engl, and Gmc. Phil. 
XII, p. 259 ; cf. also B. C. Williams, Gnomic Poetry in Anglo-Saxon, New 
York, 1914, p. 45; etc.) that these rhetorical formulae are of Latin 
derivation IVbi sunt, etc.). A number of parallels can be found in 
homiletic writings, e.g. Wulfstan (ed. Napier), p. 263 : ' Hwaer syndon 
nu ]>a, rican caseras 7 fa cyningas ]>e jo wseron, o55e l^a ealdormen ]>e 
beboda setton? Hwaer is demera domstow?...Hw8er com middaneardes 
gestreon ? Hwser com worulde wela,' etc. Cf. also Blick. Horn. (ed. 
Morris), p. 99, and the unpublished sermon contained in Tib. A. iii, 
fol. 102 a, an extract from which is given by Kluge in Engl. Stud, viii, 
p. 472 f. Such passages are no doubt derived in part from L. originals. 
He compares Bede, Lib. Scint. : 'Die ubi sunt reges, ubi principes, ubi 
imperatores, ubi locupletes rerum, ubi potentes sseculi ? Certe quasi 
umbra transierunt ; velut somnium evanuerunt,' which is thus ren- 
dered in the A.S. translation : 'Sege hwar synd cyningas, hwar ealdras, 
hwar wealdendras, hwar welige finga, hwar mihtige worulde gewislice ? 
.swylce sceadu gewitan, swylce swefen fordwinan ' (Cod. Reg. 7, C. iv, 
fol. 92). On the other hand it is to be observed that the formula hwcer 
cwom is not of L. origin, and further that rhetorical questions in 
general do not appear to have been unusual in the early Teutonic 
languages. They are of fairly frequent occurrence in Norse poetry, 
both in long poems and in lausavisur; e.g. Egils S. ch. 61 ; Eiriksmdl, 
str. 1 ; Vellekla, str. 24. Again the question 'where are?' with reference 
to the departed is of such a character that it could very easily come into 
use independently in diflferent countries ; and in point of fact it is of 
frequent occurrence in the early poetic literature of several languages, 
e.g. Greek (cf. Riad, xiii, 1. 219 f.), Hebrew (Isaiah xxxvi, 13) and 
Sanskrit (cf. Rig Veda, Book vii, Hymn 88, v. 5), which cannot be 
suspected of L. influence. Cf. further C. Becker, ' Ubi sunt qui ante nos 
in mundo fuere' in Aufsatze zur Kultur- und Sprachgeschichte, vornehm- 
lich des Orients, Ernst Kuhn zum 70 Geburtstage gewidmet, ]\Iiinich, 
1916. The case as regards the Wanderer must therefore be regarded as 
at least doubtful. The only point in favour of the L. derivation is that 
this formula is unusual in A.S. poetry. On the other hand the whole 
tenor of the passage from 1. 92 — 105 is as alien as it could well be from 
the homiletic passages cited above. 

93. Hwcer. . .gesetu. The sing, verb with the pi. subject is no doubt due 
to attraction to the preceding phrases. Cf. Blick. Horn. ed. cit. p. 99. 
The construction however is not imknown. Cf. Matzner, Eistorische 
Grammatik der englischen Spracke (Weimar, 1863), p. 51 (3). 

97. StondeS nu on laste...weal.. lit. 'There stands in the track of... a 
wall.' For this use of last cf. the phrase last weardian, Beo. 1. 971, 
etc., and .see B. and T. s.v. last. It is quite in accordance with A.S. 
idiom to omit the word 'only' before 'wall.' 

98. Wyrmlicum fah, obscure. B. and T. transl. wyrmlic — ' the body 
of a serpent (of carving on a wall)'; Gr. Koh. serpentis corpus. So far 

NOTES 167 

iis I am aware the word only occurs once elsewhere in a Confession 
published in Aii</lia, xii, p. 501, by Logeman, where it seems to be 
useil in quite a dilVeriMit sense. The serpent was a familiar design in 
Anglo-Saxon cccksiastii-al art. \Vc may refer to the sculptured 
portal at ^lonkwearmouth Church, while on tombstones it is not un- 
common. But a difficulty is caused by the fact that we have no evidence 
for such designs on the walls of fortifications or (stone) houses, whether 
Roman or later. Is it conceivable that wi/nn may here come from 
umrma, wi/rma as in ^vyrmbaxii, 'coccus' (equivalent to weoloc-read)'i 
We may possibly compare the expression readfah in the Riiin, 1. 10, 
though the use of teafor, ih. 1. 23, points to a different origin for the 
colouring mentioned tlbere. 

102. Ilrmaii bindei)', etc. I have adopted the emendation hruse to 
/inisdH which was suggested by Thorpe and adopted by Ettmuller and 
most later editors, and take uwna as standing in loose apposition to 
Ar/tT, since the former by itself can hardly be the subject of bindetS. 
The i^eutcnce /'on}ie...7uhtscua is best rendered as a parenthesis. 

106. Ball is earfoi^lic, etc. EarfotSlic does not appear to be used 
elsewhere in this sense. Possibly rice may be dative ; lit. ' everything 
is troublesome to earthly dominion,' i.e. earthly dominion is beset with 
trouble on every side. I have taken eorpan rice as practically equivalent 
to u'orxld. The meaning however may be ' All earthly power is fraught 
with trouble.' 

107. Wyrda gesceaft. The phrase occurs again in Daniel, 1. 132. 
The origin of this and similar expressions is doubtless to be found in a 
mythological conception, similar to that which forms the subject of the 
Darra(Sarlj6(S ; cf. the Rhyming Poem, 1. 70: me }>cet Wyrd geivcef. 

108. Her hi(S feoh Icene, etc. The resemblance to Hdvamdl, str. 76 f., 
was pointed out by R. M. Meyer in Die altgermanische Poesie (Berlin, 
1889), p. 321 f. ; cf. also Hdlconarmdl, str. 21. 

110. Gestecd apparently occurs only here. It is generally interpreted 
to mean 'frame.' It is possible however that the word may mean 
'habitations together with their occupants,' in which case the sense 
would be ' The present generation with all its belongings will pass away.' 

111. Gesat him, etc. Cf. Heliand, 1. 3227 ; Andreas, 1. 1161. 

113. Nemf^e he (er, etc. I have taken the phrase /a bote as referring 
to the following sentence, i.e. ' seeking for grace through prayer.' Cf. 
Prayer iv, 11. 19, 109. It is possible however that the phrase bote gefretn- 
TTian may mean 'make reparation,' and that this has no connection with 
what follows If this latter interpretation is correct, torn is probably to 
be translated ' anger ' rather than ' grief.' 


1. M<eg ic, etc. For the opening lines of this poem cf. the Wife's 
Complaint, 1. 1 and n. Cf. also Be Manna Mode, 1. 15. The word mceg 
seems to have httle force here. Cf. the Wife's Complaint, 1. 2. We may 
compare its use in the Lindisfarne GosjjcIs, where it is sometimes em- 
ployed to render the Latin fut. or conj. See B. and T. s. v. magan v. 

6. Atol ypa gcwealc. Cf. Exodus, 1. 455; Beoivulf, 1. 848. The 
phrase stands in loose apposition to cearselda fela : 'I have experienced 

168 NOTES 

many anxious situations, (I have experienced) the terrible rolling of the 

poer is probably relative, ' when ' ; but the idiom can hardly be 
reproduced in Modern English. 

8. Cnossad, so ms. Early editors, e.g. Ettmiiller, Grein, Rieger, etc. 
read cnossade. So also Wiilcker and Imelmann. For the use of the 
indie, pres. in dependent sentences relating to the past a possible 
parallel is to be found in Beowulf, 1. 1923. For the use of the conj. pres. 
instances occur in Beowulf, 11. 1314, 1928, 2495. 

9. Mine fet. Kluge em. fet to fotas. So also Schiicking. Sweet and 
Sieper transpose mine and fet for metrical reasons. 

10. Ceare seofedun...heortan. Cf. Genesis, \. 354 f. An antithesis is 
doubtless intended between caldum and hat ; but the strained metaphor 
can hardly be reproduced in a translation. Sweet emends hat to hate. 
If the MS. reading is kept the lit. translation will be ' distress moaned, 
heat (subst.) round my heart' ; or poss. 'distress moaned hotly (ace. nt. 
adj. as adv.) round my heart.' (So Imelmann.) Cf. hitter, 1. 55. 

13. pe... limpets, etc. Or possibly 'who has the happiest of lots (life) 
on land.' Imelmann translates ' zum besten gedeiht.' The superlative 
however is perhaps not to be pressed. 

14. Earmcearig, or perhaps ' made anxious by my desolation.' Sweet 
translates 'careworn.' 

16. Winemcegum bidroren. Half a line has presumably been lost after 
lastum. The line is metrically defective as it stands. There is no 
indication of a lacuna in the MS. 

18. peer ic ne gehyrde, etc. Previous editors have punctuated this 
sentence differently, marking the stop after song instead of aftei- wceg ; 
'There I... waves and the i-ecurring note of the swan. For amuse- 
ment I had the call of the gannet, and the scream of the godwit in 
place of human merriment.' 

20. Gomene...hleahtor wera...medodrince. It is to be noted that his 
mind has recurred, like that of the Wanderer (cf. 11. 32 — 55), to feasts 
in the hall, where these three elements are invariably to be found. Cf. 
Beowulf, 11. 607—630, etc. 

21. Huilpan. If the text is correct the metre would rather favour 
hwilpan as against hu-ilpan. Sieper omits and; but u for w is not 
uncommon in early texts and was regularly used in early Northumbrian. 
Ref. may be made to the note on this word by M. Daunt in the Mod. 
Lang. Rev. Vol. xiii, 1918, pp. 478, 479. I came independently to the 
conclusion that the bird is the bar-tailed godwit, commonly called 
yarwhelp and halfwhatvp. Shakespeare calls it scammel. The godwit is 
a water-bird and is also called 'sea- woodcock.' It may be an objection 
that the godwit is a migratory bird and does not stay in this country 
in the winter. But this objection applies also, curiously enough, to the 
gannet and the tern. 

25. Urigfepra. This line cannot be correct, as alliteration is wanting. 
Wiilcker, following Thorpe, holds that something has been lost from 
the text. Grein prints ne cenig for noenig. Kluge suggests heaswigfepra 
for urigfejyra; but the latter occurs elsewhere, viz. in Judith, 1. 210; 
Elene, 11. 29, 111 — in each case as an epithet of the eagle. 

26. Frefran. The reading of the MS. feran can hardly be correct. 
Cf. the Wanderer, 1. 28. 

27 f. Ah...gehiden. For the use of a,ga7i (in the sense of hahhan) with 

NOTES 109 

the p.p. cf. Wulfstan's Sermo ad Anglos (Sweet's Reader, p. 91, 1. 56). 
Owing to the rarity of this construction .some editors (e.g. Sweet, 
Schiicking) em. to gebideS. The tranal. would then bo : 'He who has 
a happy hfe and experiences no perilous adventures,' etc. 

28. In birrgiim, possibly poet. pi. for sing., as elsewhere, e.g. Genesis, 
1. 25tj2. Ettinuller, Schiicking', etc. omit the comma before bealosii'Sa. 

From Alfred's Laws, cap. 40, it appears that the term burh (perhaps 
properly ' stockade ') was applied to the residences of men of all ranks 
above that of the peasant. 

31. Xap ni/itscua, etc. With this passage cf. the Waiiderer, 1. 102 ff. 

33. For i>on. Cf. Introduction, p. 17 f., above. 

37. FertS to feran. Grein ^according to Wiilcker), emends fertS to 
forty which seems more natural. In this case we must supply ' me.' 

42. His scefore sorge, lit. ' anxiety with regard to his sea-voyaging, as 
to what God,' etc. see/ore is causal gen. after sorge. 

43. To hwofi. Toller (cf. Suppl. s.v. 1(c)) understands ^erfon in this 
passage in the sense of 'to bi-ing a person into a condition.' Cf. Ad- 
monition to the Christian Life, 1. 59 f.: ' Uncu« biS jjc to hwan jjc {>in 
Drihten gedon wille' ; Elene, 1. 1157. Cf. also Orosius, 3, 1 ; Blick. Horn. 

44. Ne bip him, etc. Cf. 1. 20 and n. 

45. To wife wyn, or possibly ' he has no pleasure in his wife.' To 
warulde hyht, or possibly ' no hope in this world.' Cf. Crist, 1. 585 f. ; 
Gufilac, 1. 631 f. 

46. Ymbe...elles. The subject is probably hyge, 1. 45 being 

48. Blostmum nimaS. The text can hardly be correct, since niman 
is apparently not used elsewhere with the dative. One is tempted to 
suspect that blostmum nimatj is a corruption of blostmia^, but it is not 
easy to see how such an error could have arisen. The writing in the 
MS. is perfectly clear, a new line beginning at | 7nu7n. 

byrig f(^gria&. FoegriatS apparently occurs only once elsewhere (cf. 
Tollerj Suppl. s.v.), and there with transitive meaning. Norse fegra is 
also trans. I have therefore taken byrig as ace. If ftngria^ is intrans. 
we must transl. 'The houses of the great (or fortifications) begin to 
look bright ' ; but the meaning of this is not clear. We may perhaps 
cf. King Alfred's Preface to his translation of St Augustine's Soliloquies, 
ed. H. L. Hargrove (New York, 1902), p. 1. 

50. Ealle /a, etc. The lit. transl. would seem to be ' Incite the 
man eager of heart, (incite) to travel the heart of one who has such 

51. Sefan, .so modern editors (e.g. Wulcker, Sieper, Schucking, 
Imelmann). Early editors emended to feran and (Grein'^ and Rieger) 
]?one (for }?am). 

52. Gewitajy. The ase of the pi. here is curious, and most editors 
(e.g. Ettmiiller, Rieger, Grein, Wulcker, Sweet, Sieper, Schucking, etc.) 
emend to gemtan. 

53. Geac. . .geomran reoi-de. Cf. the Husband's Message, D, 1. 10 f. and n. 
The cuckoo figures largely as a herald of Spring in Irish poetry also. 
Cf. the 'Song of Summer' in Ancient Irish Poetry, transl. K. Meyer 

170 NOTES 

(London, 1913), p. 54. Cf. also Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader (Oxford, 
1908), p. 223, n. to 1. 53. 

55. Bitter. Rieger emends to hitre. So also Sweet, but cf. hat, 1. 11 
and note to 1. 10. 

beorn. Cf. the Wanderer, 1. 70 n. 

56. Esteadig. So Wiilcker, Sweet, Imelmann, etc. The word is 
apparently a aV. Xey. (lit. 'blest with luxuries'). Grein read the MS. 
as eft- (as previously suggested by Thorpe), and emended to sefteadig, 
in which he has been followed by Rieger, Kluge, Schiicking and the 
dictionaries (' in easy circumstances,' B. and T.) ; but seft- does not 
appear to occur elsewhere in compounds. Sieper reads eft-eadig, but 
translates 'gliickselig.' 

61. Eorpan sceatas. I take sceatas to be gen. sing. (cf. Sievers, 
Angelsuchs. Gram., § 237, Anm. 1), possibly, as elsewhere, for an earlier 
-«s dependent upon wide. Ofer is added by Ettmiiller and Wiilcker, 
geond by Grein and Rieger. 

62. Qifre and grcedig is a formula which occurs elsewhere. Cf. 
Genesis, 1. 793 ; Dialogue of the Body and Soul, 1. 74. 

anfloga. Sieper takes anfloga as applying to the cuckoo. Ettmiiller 
and Gr. Koh. transl. draco; but surely it merely carries on the 
metaphor which describes the speaker's imagination as a (solitary) 
seabird. Cf. Psalms xi, 1 ; cxxiv, 7. 

65. Deade lif. This figurative use of the adj. is rare. Cf. however 
Gnomic Verses (Exeter MS.), 1. 79; cf also B. and T. (Suppl.) s.v. deadi. 

68. Simle preora sum, etc. For the asyndetic form of this sentence, 
cf. the Laws of Wihtred, cap. 26. The phrase is not uncommon. Cf. 
preora an in Be Gri<5e, eh. 16. 

69. ^r his tiddege. I take cer as prep., and the MS. tidege to be for 
tiddcege, with Gr. Koh. etc. Cf. Genesis, 1. 1165. Rieger, Wiilcker, Sweet, 
etc. emend to oer his tid aga. 

71. Fcegum fromweardum, lit. ' Doomed (and) about to depart.' 

72. There are various possible ways of taking this passage. 

(1) Lof {lifgendra ceftercwej^endra) subj. ; lastworda betst pred., 
'The praise of those who survive... is the best of reputations.' In this 
case the clause poet he gewyrce is explanatory to lof, though somewhat 
anacoluthic. Fremman is governed by gewyrce, ' ? That he succeed 
by his labours... in prevailing' — an unusual construction. The chief 
difficulty in the way of this interpretation is the first poet (in 1. 72) 
which comes before the subject. 

(2) Lof {lifgendra ceftercwependra) is ace. obj. of gewyrce. The subj. of 
the sentence is poet in 1. 72 taken up as usual by pcet in 1. 74. 'It is 
the best of reputations... that he should gain the praise,' etc. The 
difficulty here is that the object of gewyrce (lof) comes before the 
predicate of the main sentence ; and further that we shall have an 
awkward anacoluthon in frernman, 1. 75, which in that case can only 
be taken as loosely complementary to the sentence pat he gewyrce, etc. 

In either case hip must be understood in the main sentence, but B. 
and T. and Gr. Koh. give no examples of the use of gewyrcan with 
the infin. The latter (following Rieger) regard fremman as ace. sing. 
of a fern, noim fremme (Rieger freme) governed by gevjyrce. The form, 
however, does not occur elsewhere. Sweet in his Reader (Oxford, 
1908, p. 173, 1. 75) emends to /reme (n. sing.) but omits the reference 
in his glossary. K. Sisam {Engl. St. Bd. 46, 1912-1913, p. 336) emends 

NOTES 171 

to fre mum (d. pi. of freynu) making 11. 75 ami 76 parallel, 'that... 
he" bring it about by beneficial actions upon the earth against the malice 
of tiends, liy doughty deeds against the devil, that the sons of men 
aftorwanls praise him,' and compares Beoiimlf, 1. 20 6". Kock ('Jubilee 
Jaunts and Jottings,' p. 7<j La /ids Unioersitets Arsskrift, 1918) emends 
to fremme (vb.), and translates : 'that he. ..achieves and. brings about on 
earth... that sons of men extol him afterwards.' 

75. Fremman on foldan, etc. Cf. Be Manna Crceftum, 11. 89, 90. 

79. Bhvd seems to be in loose syntactical apposition with what goes 

80. Dagas sitid geioitene, etc., lit. 'The days, all the splendour,' etc. 
82. Ne aron nu, etc. Cf. the Wa7iderer, 1. 92 n. 

84. M(vst mid him. The force of mid him (which perhaps applies 
strictly to the following line also) seems to be 'More than any others 
of their kind ' (i.e. kings etc.). 

91. Yldo him, etc. Cf. the picture of old age in Budge, The Literature of 
the Egyptians (London, 1914), p. 225. 

92. Limine... eor}yan forgiefene. Some editors emend to -giefenne 
(sing.). On the other hand it may be an instance of the frequent poet, 
pi. for sing. Cf. GucTlac, 1. 1326. 

98. Bro/^or his gehorenum. Bro}>or is nom., lit. 'though he (as) a 
brother for his born (brother).' Ettmiiller reads gehro'Sritm for ge- 
borenum ; but cf. Laws of Alfred, ch. 42 (6). Rieger, Wiilcker, etc. read 
hycgan for byrgan, and he ne for kine, 'bargaining by means of 
perishable treasures that he may not die too.' The passage has been 
discussed by ^L Daunt in the Modern LMng. Review, Vol. xi, p. 337 f., 
and by Kock in Jubilee Jaunts and Jottings,' p. 76 in Lunds Universitets 
Arsskrift. But the poet clearly has in mind heathen customs and ideas 
similar to those described in Ynglingasaga, ch. 8, where it is stated 
that everyone should bring to Valholl such treasure as he had on his 
pyre, and should also have for his enjoyment whatever he had buried 
in the ground. 

99. Mapmum mislicum. I take this to be a loose instr. use, lit. 'by 
means of various (or 'in the form of various') treasures.' Cf. Beow. 1. 2181. 

100. Ne mceg, etc., lit. 'Gold will not be able,... when he has hidden 
it,' etc. 

101. For godes egsan. Cf. Andreas, 1. 457 ; Crist, 1. 1015. 

103. OncyrretS. Cf. the Wanderer, 1. 107 ; Rhyming Poem, 1. 59. 
106. Dol bip, etc. Cf. Gnomic Verses (Exeter sis.), 1. 35. Cf. also 
Salomon and Saturn, 1. 224; the Wanderer, 1. 112. 

UnJ^inged, nom., lit. 'When it (death) is unprepared for.' 

109. Mon sceal, etc. For mon, the MS. has mod. So also Schiicking. 
The emendation (which has been adopted by almost all editors) is 
suggested by the Gnomic Verses (Exeter MS.), 1. 51. 

110. Gcicis, die, sc. '■mon sceal wesan.^ Perhaps however one should 
take (with Gr. Koh.) geiois and clcene as ace. sing. neut. agreeing with 
t>(Ft. The tran.slation will then be 'A vehement heart must be controlled 
and kept within its due bounds— ftiithful to pledges, pure in maimer of 

112. Wi}^ bofw, etc. The line is defective as it stands. I have 
followed Klaebcr in supplying lufan after leofne — which seems to be 
required by both the sense and the metre. 

172 NOTES 

113. Fyres is obviously wrong, if the present order of words is 
correct. A word with initial w- is required. Does fvZne stand for ful{l.)ne 
or iox fulnel For the latter ('guilty') we may refer to the frequent 
references to ordeal in the Laws. 

115. Geworhtne. The ms. reading — geworhttie — can hardly be correct. 
A possible emend, would be gewrehtne. The meaning would then be 
lit. 'Wish a friend of his (or possibly 'his lord') who has been accused 
to be burnt on the pyre.' It is presumably not to the funeral pyre of 
heathen times that reference is made here but to the punishment of 
enemies or criminals by burning. Cf. Be Manna Wyrdum, 1. 43 f. ; 
Aethelstan's Laws iv, 6, § 7, where the reference is to the punishment 
of slaves. 

sioi&re. The ms. reading sivire is obviously wrong. The emendation 
to sivi&re is confirmed by the Ruin, 1. 17 ; Salomon and Saturn, 1. 442 ; 
Gnomic Verses (Cotton.), 1. 5. 

117. Uton we, etc. Cf. Introduction, p. 18 above. Cf. for the form of 
the concluding lines Crist, 11. 771 — 8; Homily on Psalm 28, 11. 43 — 47. 

121. Gelong. The sense seems to require that gelong should be 
taken with in rather than with peer. 

123, 4. Geweor}> ealle tid. Or does this rather mean 'Who 
has counted us worthy of eternal salvation'? B. and T. however do not 
recognise this use of geioeorpian. 


1. Giedd wrece, a technical phrase. Cf. the Wonders of Creation, 
1. 12; Beowulf, 1. 1065, etc. Cf. also the Seafarer, II. 1, 2, and Beowulf, 
1. 872 f where si^ and wrecan are similarly brought together. 

2. Minre sylfre si&. The fem. form of the pron. etc. shows that the 
poem refers to a woman. Cf. Ettmiiller, Engla and Seaxna Scopas and 
Boceras, 1850, p. 214; cf. also Introduction, p. 28, above. /Sid" seems to 
be in loose apposition to giedd. The lax syntax in the first two lines is 
characteristic of the whole poem. Cf. 1. 45 f. For the construction cf. 
B. and T. s.v. self, ii (3). 

5. Wite, etc. The same expression occurs, though with a diflferent 
construction of the gen., in Genesis, 1. 1013 f. ; cf. GutSlac, 1. 440. 

6 — 15. The sequence of events is not quite clear to me ; but the 
obscurity may be not altogether unintentional. 

7. Uhtceare. Cf. the Wanderer, 1. 8 ; Prayer iv, 1. 95. 

9. Folga(5. This meaning is unusual in A.S. ; but cf. Bede, H.E. v, 
11:' WillfriS wees on l^a tid of his eSle adrifen and in Mercna land folgade 
(In Merciorum regionibus exulabat).' Cf. also the use of folgere {pedi- 
sequa), Toller, Suppl. s.v. ad fin. The poem contains many air. Xey. and 
unusual constructions. Cf. Schiicking, Zeitschr. ficr deut. Alterthum, Vol. 
XLViii (1906), p. 448 f. 

11. Ongunnon, etc. It is not clear whether the poet intends this as 
a statement of fact or merely as a surmise on the part of the heroine. 
All editors seem to take the former view, and the latter certainly seems 
to postulate a somewhat complex situation which we should perhaps 
hardly be justified in attributing to a poet of the period. Yet the poem 
is more subtle than any other Anglo-Saxon poem which has come down 
to us. 

NOTES it:} 

14. LalMicost. I h<ave taken hii)'lu' in the usual sense, 'hateful.' 
The sentence might however be transl. 'So that we might live as far 
apart in the world and as miserably as possible,' in which sense it is 
taken by tJr. Koh., Schiicking, Inielmann, etc. 

15. I/cr heard. This line has given rise to much speculation. See I*., 
and T., Suppl., s.v. heard vi. Early scholars, e.g. Thorpe and Ettniiiller, 
regarded Herheard as a proper name. I have taken the Ms. reading 
herheard as two words, with WUlcker. Grein-, Trautmann, Kohler, 
Schiicking, Imelmann, keep the single word herheard 'which they regard 
as an uimsual (dialectal) spelling of hearg-eard and interpret as 'a 
dwelling in a grove' ('temple,' Gr.-). Hearg (Norse hiirgr, O.H.G. haruc) 
is used to transl. such words &^ fanum, idolum, and the German word is 
found in addition glossing ne77ius, lucus. The phrase herheard niman 
could therefore probably bear the meaning 'to take sanctuary,' perhaps 
with the idea of 'grove' involved. Grein^ emended to her eard niman 
' to t;ike up (my) abode here.' So also Brandl, Sieper (cf. however his 
transl. of this passage), etc. Cf. 1. 27 below. See B. and T. s.v. niman 
viii ; cf. P.salm 131, v. 15 ; Crist, 1. 63; Gumac, 1. 1051. 

According to the interpretiition adopted in 1. 11 the wife regards the 
action of her husband in .sending her to the grove as an act of cruelty 
for which she cannot account, except by her knowledge or suspicion 
that his relatives had been sowing discord between them. 

16. I^ofra lyt, etc. For lyt with the personal gen. cf. the Wander^^ 
1. 31 and u. 

18 — 21. The force oi ful gemoecne is probably intended to apply only 
to heards. hygeg., what follows being intended as a qualification to the 
latter word — in which case we may supply 'though' or 'but' (cf. p. 18, 
n. 1 above). It is possible however that heards. hijgeg. are used pre- 
dicatively. In that case we should translate ' since I have found a man 
fully suited to me (i.e. in birth, station, etc.) to be,' etc. So Imelmann, 
Forschungen zur altenglischen Poeste, p. 21. 

20. Morpor hycgende. Lawrence transl. ' meditating upon death.' 
Stefanovic {Anglia, vol. xxxii, p. 413) imderstands the phrase as 
qualifying mod. Most editors em. to hycgendne, but the loss of -n in the 
ace. sing. masc. of pres. part, is not uncommon. 

21. Blipe geh(ero. A much easier construction is gained by ending 
the ])revious sentence at hycgende and taking blif^e gebcero with what 
follows. This punctuation, which was tirst adopted by Conybeare in 
his Ilhistrations of Anglo- Sa.ron Poetry (London, 1826), p. 247, has been 
followed by Stefanovic, op. cit., p. 414. (Cf. also Ettmiiller, Scopas and 
Boceras, p. 215 n. for an alternative suggestion.) But Conybeare's 
punctuation destroys the parallelism between 11. 19 — 21 and 11. 42 — 45, 
which is surely intentional. The construction of blipe gebcero is ren- 
dered difficult by the uncertainty which exists as to the declension and 
gender of gebcero. Cf. Toller, Suppl. s.v. If the words here are to be 
taken as ace, the sentence can hardly be strictly syntactical. The 
expression is perhaps to be taken as a compound. 

24. Sica hit no wcere. Cf. the Wanderer, 1. 96. The verse is incomplete, 
but this may be intentional. 

25. Freondacipe uncer. For the sense of freondscipe, cf. the Husband^s 
Message D, 1. 7. 

26. FahiSu dreogan. The words might also mean 'bear (i.e. share) 
the blood-guilt ' or ' vendett;i' ; but this interpretation does not appear 

174 NOTES 

to fit the context here, and it was not usual for a wife to be involved in 
a vendetta incurred by her husband. I have therefore preferred to take 
fcehtsu in the more general sense of ' hostility,' which is not uncommon 
in the case of /a/i, and which gives additional point to the words 
mines fela leofan. 

27. Heht mec, etc. The nearest parallel that I know is in the text 
of the Helrei(S Brynhildar contained in the Flateyjarbdk, Vol. i, p. 356 : 
Let mig af harmi hugfuUr konungr 
Atla systur undir eeik bua. 
(' In sorrow the courageous king made me, the sister of Atli, to dwell 
beneath an oak.') 

There is nothing in the context or elsewhere to explain this passage, 
and all editors, I think, adopt the reading of the Codex Regius which 
(as in several other places in the poem) gives quite a different sense 
from the Flateyjarbolc : 

Let hami vara hugfuUr konimgr 

dtta systra und eik borit. 
('The courageous king had my (swan) garb and those of my eight sisters 
carried beneath an oak.') The readings of the Flateyjarhdh however 
are not mere scribal errors. In sagas we hear occasionally of sanctuaries 
serving as grid^asta&ir, i.e. places where fugitives could seek refuge (as 
in churches in later times). Thus in Fri^pjdfs Saga, ch. 2, Ingibjorg is 
placed in the sanctuary of Baldrshagi by her brothers when they go 
out freebooting ; and the sanctuary of Freyr seems to serve a similar 
pui-pose in the story of Gunnarr Helming, Flateyjarbok, i, p. 337 (cf. 
also Eyrhyggja Saga, ch. 4). These sanctuaries very frequently con- 
tained — and indeed perhaps originally consisted of — sacred trees or 
groves. In England we hear of places of sanctuary or asylum {fritygeard) 
round trees in the North. Priests' Law, § 35. Parallels are not uncommon 
among other peoples. We may refer especially to the sacred groves of 
the Lithuanians in which no injury might be offered to man or beast. 
It is not unlikely therefore that this is what is meant both in 1. 27 ff. 
above and in the Flat, text of the HelreiiS. Our passage could also be 
interpreted as pointing to a prison ; but I do not know any parallels to 
the use of such a place in this way. 

29. EortSsele, cf. eor&scrcefe, U. 28, (-u) 36. The meaning is not made 
clear. The latter word occurs in the Wanderer, 1. 84, apparently in 
the sense of ' grave.' Here it would seem to mean a cave, natm-al or 
artificial. One is tempted to think of the 'earth-houses' found in 
Scotland and elsewhere, but the total absence of such structures in 
Saxon England raises a difficulty. Chambered long barrows may be 
thought of, but these are confined to a limited district (Wilts, Somerset, 
Glouces.) and 1. 35 rather suggests a larger space. The pi. eord'scrafu 
in 1. 36 may point rather to a succession of chambers such as might be 
found in 'dene-holes' or in natural caves. 

30. Dena and dutia- form a frequent antithesis in poetry. Cf. Riddle 
28, 11. 1, 2, etc. Can dun here possibly refer to the steep sides of the 
cavern ? The meaning may however be ' This is a gloomy dell sur- 
rounded by lofty hills.' 

31. Bitre hurgtunas ; cf. Grein's translation which takes the phrase 
in a figurative sense. It might possibly mean however ' Prickly is the 
enclosing fence.' The original meaning of tun was 'a hedge,' cf. Fris. 

NOTES 176 

tun, 'a hedge,' also Grer. Z(nt/i. The oxpros-sion however may i)().sHiI)ly 
be used ironically. 

33. Fri/nd sind on eorj^an, etc., or perhaps ' above ground.' Thorpe 
' My friond.s are in the earth ; the once dear living ones the grave 
inhabit' : so also Conybeare. 

34. L''(fer iri'drdiai)'; Gr. ' liegen im (irabc.' In this interi)retation the 
\voi\l lifyende presents a difficulty (which is hardly satisfactorily met by 
Thorpe'.s transl.), while the following sentence {ponne, etc) seems to be 

37. Sunwrlangne dccg, cf. Juliana, 1. 495 ; Metres of Hoethius, 4'". 
Lit. ' when the days are long as in summer.' B. and T. cf. ' livelong,' 
cf. also morgenlongne divg, Beowulf, 1. 2894. Schiicking translates 'AH 
the summer long.' But cf. Norse mrlangr, also used with dagr, 
denoting the length of the spring day. Cf. also O.S. sumarlanges dages, 
Heliand, 1. 3421 . Imelmann believes that a contrast to uhtan is inteudfed. 

42 ff. In 11. 42 — 45 there are three possible constructions : 

(1) heard (habban sceal) heortau ge|)oht — swylce habban sceal bli|)e 
gebajro — aic (prep.) fon (habban sceal) breostceare, etc. Gejyoht in 1. 43 
can hardly be accusative, the evidence for the neuter form (cf. B. and 
T. s.v.) not being satisfactory. But habban may possibly be pa.ssive. 

(2) heiird (soyle wesan) heortan gejjoht. Breostceare, etc. may be 
attracted into the construction of blif>e gebairo, though in sense 
belonging to heard heortan ge}>oht. 

(3) heiird (scyle wesan) heortan gel^oht; swylce...geban"o ; eac (advb.) 
)>on ( = J>onne) breostceare sinsorgna gedreag (3rd sing. pret.). This is 
perhaps the least probable, while (2) on the whole would seem to be the 
most satisfactory. 

geong mon. It is a much debated question whether this phrase is 
to be taken as general or particular. Cf. Introduction, p. 30 above. 
Grein, Boeder, Imelmann, Sieper, etc. understand it to refer to the 
young man who has caused the separation of wife and husband. 
Schiicking thought that it referred to the speaker of the poem who, 
according to him, was a man ; but he has recently changed his view in 
favour of a connection with the Crescentia story. (Cf. Introduction, 
p. 29, n. 8 above). Williams and Lawrence regard the passage as gnomic, 
but suggested by reflections on the husband. In this case a transition 
from the general to the particular must be understood in the following 
lines — at 1. 46, if not before. 

scyle. The difference between scyle and sceal is, strictly, that between 
statements of opinion and of fact ; but the two forms appear to bo used 
sometimes without any appreciable difference of meaning, especially in 
gnomic poetry, e.g. Seafarer, 1. 109 ff.; Wonders of Creation, 1. 17ff. ; 
cf. Hdvamdl, str. 83, 92, as compared with str. 80 — 82, etc. Grein, 
Sieper and others take scyle as a true optative, — ' may he,' etc. — a curse 
upon the geong mon who, according to them, is not the husband, but one 
of the mischievous relatives. 

43. Heard heortan gepoht, etc. Or perhaps 'He must have stern 
resolutions in his mind — though a gracious demeanour — grief of heart 
too,' etc. 

45. Sy let him sylfum gelong. This sentence contains alternative 
hypotheses, cf. Sweet, New English Grammar (Oxford, 1898), Vol. ii, 
p. 13 ; but the .second hypothesis is complicated by the introduction of 
a fresh consideration. Instead of ' Or whether he be pursued,' etc. the 
addition of the clause ' that my friend sits,' etc. causes the sup[)ression 

176 NOTES 

of the verb of the original clause, or rather converts it from pers, to 
impers. use, cf. Schiicking, Zeitschr. fiir. deut. Alterthum, Vol. XLVlii 
(1906), p. 445 f. 

46. Wide...feorres folclondes. I take the gen. feorres folclondes to 
be dependent on wide. 

50. On dreorsele, etc. The scene which she has in mind is not quite 
clear to me. Is it a cave on the coast, to which access can be obtained 
only by water, or a flooded ruin (cf. ntanhleopu, Wanderer, 1. 101) 1 

53. Of langope. B. and T. and Gr. Koh. suggest emendation of of 
to on. In accordance with the general custom of A.S. gnomic utter- 
ances, this sentence is expressed in the masc. sing., though the speaker 
is obviously thinking primarily of her own position. 


1. Scewealle. Cf. Beowulf, 1. 1924. 

2. Merefarope. Cf. Andreas, 1. 351, etc. The word is generally under- 
stood to mean sea- waves. Cf. B.and T. «.«;., also Tupper. Thorpe translates 
' ocean's strand.' The compound only occurs here and in Andreas, where 
there is nothing in the text to preclude the meaning sea-shore, and this 
seems to give better sense in our text. Cf. also Andreas, 1. 255, and 
Toller, Suppl. s. v. faro]? ii. F'or a discussion of the word and its frequent 
confusion with warop, cf. Krapp, ' Notes on the Andreas,' Modern Philo- 
logy, Vol. II, pp. 405, 406. 

3. Fea cenig. Cf. Psalm 104, v. 11. 

9. Ofer nieodu. The line is metrically defective, nor, as it stands, is 
it easy to see the exact force of ofer. Grein* suggested meodubence ; 
Grein^, meodudrincende. The former suggestion has been adopted by 
Tupper in his ed. of the riddle ( The Riddles of the E.xeter Book, Boston, 
1910), the latter by Wiilcker. There is no sign of omission in the MS. 

14. pingum. All editors seem to take this as adv. instr., some 
translating (with Thorpe) 'purposely,' others 'violently.' (Gr. Koh. 
'potenter,' ' violenter ' 1) B. and T. give 'purposely' s.v. ping but 
'violently' s.v. gepywan for this passage. The latter meaning is 
practically imi)lied in gepydan. I cannot find any parallel for the 
meaning 'purposely,' but it might possibly mean 'to the end that' or 
' by such treatment that.' Or is it possible that it may be a true dat., 
'subjected me to such treatment that,' etc. ? 


3. Frean. Schiicking emends to /n[^]a/i for metrical reasons. 
5. Tirfceste treowe, etc. Cf. Psalm 100, v. 6, where the phrase is 
possibly suggested by this passage. 

1. Hivcet is frequently used by Anglo-Saxon poets to introduce a new 
division of the subject (here, the actual message). Cf. the Wonders of 
Creation, 1. 38. 

2. Sinchroden, lit, 'treasure-laden.' Thorpe, 'richly adorned one.' 

NOTES 177 

5. Meoduhurgum. CL the ir^/wt/cn'r, 1. 78. 

6. Eard weardi(/an. Gr. 'wohnen.' Cf. Crist,'\. 772. 

7. Ftvhf'o. Cf. the Wife's Complaint, 1. 26 and n. 

9. Litgu dre/de, lit. 'stir,' 'churn the sea,' a poetical expression 
couuuon in Anglo-Saxon for travelling by sea. Cf. 1. 21, mengan 
mirestnamas ; Beowulf, 1. 1904 ; Wanderer, 1. 4 ; and (with a somewhat 
dirt'erciit meaning) Hrafnsmdl, str. 9. 

10. Si/^/^a/i J^u gehi/rde, etc., i.e. as soon as spring is come. — The 
ancients usually avoided sailing in winter. 

11. Geomorne geac. Cf. the Seafarer, 1. 53 and n. 
16. Findest. Thorpe punctuates /nrfcs^; /dpr. 

19. He me s(egde. Thorpe places a period after scegde and translates 
fyonne, etc., 1. 20, as 'Then may,' etc. 

XviiL Geong. Ettraiiller and others suggest that ana is the word 
which lias been lost here. May it not have been an infinitive, parallel 
to faran i 

25. peodnes dohtor. I have followed the punctuation of Thorpe. 
Mcst editors (e.g. Ettmiiller, Wiilcker, Sieper, Schiicking, etc.) place a 
comma after eorlgestreona. 

gif...beneah...geci/re appears to be an irregular conditional sentence. 
Instead of 'if he shall gain thee he will carry out the bond,' it has 
been turned to 'if he shall gain thee I would choose... to declare on 
oath that he will keep the bond.' The meaning would then be that 
besides the guarantee of the old vows the speaker would be prepared to- 
get S. II. etc. to give a further guarantee. He would choose them as his 
oath-helpers. Cf. the cyre-ap. Laws of Aetbelstan, cap. ii, 9. Cf. also 
p. 42, n. 2 above. 

26. Ofer eald gebeot. The dictionaries and edd. translate gebeot as 
'promise.' Thorpe 'after the old promise.' B. and T. 'contrary to the 
old promise.' So also Grein, Trautmann, Ten Brink, Schiicking, etc. 
Blackburn ' in spite of the old threat (against you both).' Imelmann 
' in accordance with the old covenant.' 

27. Gecyre. All editors who accept this reading (e.g. Thorpe, Wiilcker, 
Imelmann, etc.) take the word as coming from gecierran, though the 
actual emendation rr for r which appears to be required is not always 
printed. The sense however seems to point to geceosan, though the use 
of the pret. conj. in this construction is unusual except in auxiliary 
verbs, wcere, wulde, etc. Schipper read genyre, Trautmann, Tupper, 
Sieper, and Schiicking read genyre for gehyre (i.e. with the upper stroke 
of the h efi'aced), but they do not translate. Cf. Anglia, xxxvi, p. 287. 

28. D. This letter seems properly to be D, but in the Ruin, 1. xviii 
(24), it is obviously used for M, so it may have that value here also. 


1. Wrcetlic, etc. Cf. Gnomic Verses (Cotton.), 1. 3 vyrcetlic weallstana 
geweorc, here also used of Roman masonry. Wealstaii, Gr. Koh. under- 
stand wealUtan, and transl. 'corner stone,' presumably on the ground 
of Cri.^t, 1. 2 — the third place in which the word occurs. Hicketier 
{Anglia, xi, p. 3G6) understands ivealhstan and translates 'Roman 
stone.' The quality of Roman building at ^ath is such that in the 

K. 12 

178 NOTES 

ruins of the great bath there can be seen half an archway and much of 
the adjacent wall which, after a fall of over twenty feet, still remains 

t>ces. With Sieper and Schiicking I take pees as a variant of }?es, 
though the form according to Sievers, § 338, Anm. 4, occurs only in 
northern texts. Earlier editors took it to be gen. sing., but this involve.s 
an unusual construction. The poem contains rather more dialectal 
forms than is usual, e.g. celdo, -eotone, waldend, forweorone^ geleorone, 
cnea, and perhaps s7/Ifor, besides the common poetic hafa^^ waldend. 

2. Enta geweorc. The same phrase occurs in the Gnomic Verses 
(Cotton.), 1. 2, in the passage (referring to Roman buildings) quoted 
above. Cf. also the Wanderer, 1. 87 and n. 

4. Hrim geat torras. The text is probably corrupt. Thorpe reads hrim 
geat-torras berofen ('The hoar gate-towers despoiled') but suggests an 
emendation to hrimge ihrimige) ? berofne 1 Ettmiiller, ^/-eor^e torras, hrym- 
geat behrofen (or hrymgeatu behrofenu). Klipstein, hreorge torras hrimge 
torras berofene. Gv^x^^hrungeat (' balkentor,' ' gattertor ') -torras (or 
merely hrungeat) berofen. Sieper emends to hrumge but gives no lit. 
transl. Schiicking emends to hringgeat which he translates 'Ring-tor.' 

5. Scurbeorg{e), a an. Xey., lit. 'protection against storms.' Some 
editors interpret this as meaning 'roofs' or buildings genei'ally. 5f?l>n-l\<^^>l'. 

6. Hafa^...op...gewitan, lit. 'has been holding... perished and gone... 
until (now)... have passed away.' This seems to me preferable to taking 
geioitan in a future sense. 

7. Waldend wyrhtan ; perhaps rather to be taken as parallel to such 
compounds as wine-dryhten than as a true dvandva (like suhter-gef(ede- 
ran in Beowulf, 1. 1164). Possibly however it should be read waldend, 

8. Cnea appears to be a non-W.S. form. Cf. trea, Ps. Vesp. 73, 
5. Some editors, e.g. Sieper, Schiicking, etc., emend to cne\ow~\a for 
metrical reasons. 

10. Roeghar. It is curious that most editors take the first element as 
coming from rcege, 'she-goat,' instead of from rag^t, 'lichen.' Sieper 
{Die altenglische Elegie, p. 231) regards it as referring to the grey sand- 
stone of which the Roman buildings of Bath were largely constructed. 

readfah was thought by Earle to refer to the stains made on the 
stone by the oxide of iron contained in the mineral springs ; but these 
stains would hardly reach the arches, and the word more probably 
refers to the prevailing colour of the internal walls, whether of bricks 
or mortar or painted plaster work. Cf. also teaforgeapa, 1. 23. Cf. J. 
Ward, Romano- British Buildings and Earthivorks, London, 1911, p. 283, 
etc. Cf. also the Wanderer, 1. 98 n. The walls of the great bath-house 
were entirely lined with red plaster made of powdered Roman brick, 
■which was afterwards polished. Much of this red plaster still remains 
adhering to the walls. 

11. Steap geap gedreas. During the latter part of the Roman occu- 
pation the great bath appears to have had a vaulted roof, of which the 
fallen arch referred to in 1. 1 above formed a part. Other fragments of 
the roof are still to be seen on the floor of the great bath. 

geap. This word presents difficulties. The early editors took it 
to be a substantive (as also in 1. 23) ; but ho such word is recognised 
by the dictionaries, though (if Sieper is right in taking the vowel as 
short) we might compare O. N. gap in Ginnungagap. CK also the gloss 

NOTES 179 

geap, ' comas,' with Toller's remark (Suppl. s.v. geap), with which we 
may possibly compare late L. corna, 'angle.' ' Kirkland {American 
Journal of Philology, Vol. VII, 1886, p. 367 f.) suggests a wk. n. sing. 
geapa but does not translate.' 

13. Wirum, perhaps the iron rods or cramps with which the Roman 
n)asoiis sometimes laced together the large stones of their masonry, 
t'f. J. Ward, Romano- British Buildings and Earthworks, p. 232 f. 

14. Burnsele, i.e. presumably ' bathing chambers.' Cf. 1. 31 ff. 
17. Ot> }'cet, etc. Cf. the Wanderer, 1. 107. 

19. Secgrof, a air. \ty. B. and T. transl. '(death carried off) the host 
of men.' Cf. 0. H.G. ruaba, 'numerus.' Gr. Koh. transl. eiise strenuiLs, 
and add -ra (g. pi.). 

23. Teaforgeapa. Cf. 1. ix above and n. I have taken teaforgeapa as a 
compound adj. with most recent editors — Kluge, Sieper, Schiicking, etc. 
Cf. Gr. Koh. s.v. Teafor is used to gloss minium, 'vermilion' or 'red 
ochre.' Cf. B. and T. s.v. The allusion is probably to the colour of 
Roman tiles or bricks. 

tigelum sceade^, etc. Cf. IL 1 and 10, notes. The roof of the great 
bath appears to have been composed wholly of red tiles, many of which 
still lie about the sides and on the bottom of the bath. 

24. Hrostbeag. See B. and T. s.v. Grein^ reads hrost-heages href, ' the 
gable or summit of the woodwork of the roof,' translating hrost-heag 

, as 'corona canterium'; so also Schiicking. Kirkland {Amer. Journ. of 
Philol. vii, p. 367) and Sieper keep the MS. reading. The former trans- 
lates beages rof as ' renowned for its treasures,' and hrost as ' roof,' 
standing here for ' house ' (cf. L. tectum). Sieper translates ' the roof 
renowned for its treasures ' and refers to the wonderful gable decoration, 
frieze and capitals of the Roman temple which have been found at Bath. 
hryre...gecrong. Toller transl. 'the ruin sank to earth.' Gr. Kcih. 
take hnjre as instr. and apparently translate ' {hrostbeages hrof) fell to 
the ground in ruins,' but the accusative does not appear to be used 
elsewhere in this way. Hryre-u-ong might possibly be taken as the nom. 
of a compound, but I cannot find any certain parallel for this use of 
wong. I suspect a corruption of the text. ^ 

30. Bradan rices. Burh seems here to be used almost in the sense of 
'capital' (cf. Cantwara-burh). This is preferable to taking br. ri. as a 
descriptive gen. 

31. iStream...u'ylme, lit. 'a stream cast forth heat (noun, d. sing.) or 
hotly (adv.) in broad surge.' Stream may allude to the water rising 
from the springs, which at Bath are situated under the supply cistern 
close to the baths (cf. Havertield in the Vict. County Hist, of Somerset, 
Vol. I, p. 244). This hot current is conveyed in a broad lead-lined 
culvert to the great bath, etc. 

weal call befeng, etc. Sieper regards this as a reference to the great 
octagonal wall of the reservoir enclosing the chief spring in Roman 
times, cf. Die altengl. Elegie, p. 233. Cf. Haverfield in the Vict. County 
Hist, of Somerset, Vol. I, p. 249 f. 

XXX. Hat on hrepre. With Sieper I take on hreSre with bapu (cf. 
Beoiculf 1. 3148 ; Crist and Satan, 1. 99 >.), though I do not know how to 
preserve the metaphor in a translation. 

leton t>onne geotan, etc. The following pas.sage no doubt contained a 
description, as Sieper suggests {LHe altengl. Elegie, p. 233), of the way 
in which the hot water was conducted through the great culvert from 


180 NOTES 

the reservoir to the great bath, whose ' grey stone ' floor was covered 
with lead. L. xxxv clearly refers to the arrangements of the baths. 

XXXii, XXXiii. Hringmere. If Bath is the scene of the Ruin, could 
this refer to the circular Roman bath excavated in 1885 1 Cf. Haverfield 
in the Vict. County Hist, of Somerset, Vol. i, p. 244. For the use of viere 
as applying to a cistern, see B. and T. s.v. ill. 


2. Beorn{a). Cf. the Wanderer, 1. 70 n. 

3. Eadmund cepeling. Under his brother Aethelstan he sometimes 
signs charters as clito or f rater regis. He was afterwards king, 939 — 946. 

5. Brunnanhurh. The mss. (with Symeon of Durham) have Brunnan-, 
but the first 7i is deleted in A. The other authorities have Brunan-. 
Cf. p. 60, n. 1 (with Sax. Chron. E, F). 

Bordweal. Cf. Beowulf, 1. 2980 ; probably a military term expressive 
of the close ranks in which the warriors of the time fought, holding their 
shields before them. There is no evidence to show that the bordweall 
was formed of a line of locked shields, like the L. testudo with which it 
has sometimes been compared. The round wooden shields of the Anglo- 
Saxons, which appear to have been of no great strength apart from the 
iron bosses, were less suitable for such a purpose than the shields of the f 
Romans. Cf. C. Oman, A History of the Art of War (London, 1898), 
p. 71, footnote 1. 

6. Hamora lafan. Cf. Beowulf, 1. 2829, and the other references 
given by B. and T. s.v. laf ii, especially Riddle 71, 1. 3, ' eom wra}>ra laf, 
fyres and feole,' '...the leaving of foes, of fire and of file.' 

7. Swa him, etc. Cf. Genesis, 1. 2771. 

8. CneomcBgum. The origin of the word is probably to be traced to 
the conception of grades of relationship as analogous to the joints of the 
human body. Cf. the Laws of Aethelred, vi, 12; North. Priests' Law 61. 
Cf. also the term heafodmceg, Beowulf, 11. 588, 2151 ; and cneo, in the 
Ruin, 1. 8. 

pa...ealgodon. Cf. Hdkonarmdl, str. 4. 

11. Scipflotan, i.e. Anlaf's forces which had come by sea from 
Dublin, described as guma northerna in 1. 18. 

12. Feld dcennede, etc. This difficult word has given rise to many 
conjectures which are enumerated and discussed by Tupper in the 
Journal of Engl, and Germ. Philol. Vol. ii, 1912, p. 91 f. There can be 
little doubt that, as Price suggests, the word is identical with Norse 
dynja, 'to pour.' He translates 'the field flowed with warriors' blood.' 
Cf. Ifjdls Saga (Copenh. ed., 1772), ch. 176 ' du7itSi pa hmit um hann 

15. Glad ofer grundns, etc. Cf. Beowulf, 11. 2072, 2073, etc. ; rodores 
candel, ib. 1572. 

16, 17. 0(y...setle. Cf. the Heliand, 1. 2819. 

18. Garum ageted. Cf. Kock, 'Jubilee Jaunts and Jottings' in Lunds 
Universitets Arsskrift, 1918, p. 1. 
guma norjyerna. In the Saxon Chronicle Norpmen seems regularly to 

NOTES 181 

mean 'Norwegians,' but it is uncertain whether nnrperne is always used 
in this sense, e.g. an. 890. According to the Irish Annals the popula- 
tion of Dublin consisted partly of Lhibligaill and partly of Finngaill, 
which terms are usually supposed to mean Danes and Norwegians 
respectively. It wi\s the latter however who originally founded this city, 
and jxjrhaps they formed the predominant Scandinavian element. 

28 f. Fife. . .cyninges giungc. For details of the slain cf. Introduction, 
p. Gl above. 

33. XortSmanna bregu, cf. Introduction, p. 62 above. 

35. C read... Hot, lit. 'The bark pressed afloat (and) the king,' etc. 
Onjlot (O. Norse djlot; cf. A.S. ojijlote), lit. 'into water deep enough 
to enable a ship to float.' Creodan is a rare word in Anglo-Saxon. It 
occurs again in Riddle 4, 1. 28, where it seems to denote waves dashing 
against the clifls. Cf. B. and T. s.v. hopgehncest. Miss A. J. Robertson 
tells me that the same word occurs in the heading to cap. 2 of the Laws 
of Edgar I, MS. B, with a similar meaning. The word is not very rare 
in later times (in the sense ' to press, drive, or hasten on.' Cf. N.E.D. 
s.r. Crowd 2). 

39. Hreman ne J^orfie. Cf. 11. 44, 47. For the repetition Schiicking 
compares the Dream of the Rood, 11. 35, 42, 45 {Kleines angelsdchsisches 
DicJUerhuch, Cothen, 1919, p. 72). 

40. Mcega sceard. Sceard, gefylled, heslagen are all n. sing, referring 
to Constantine ; but it is hardly possible to translate the passage 

42. His sumi forlet. This prince appears to be nowhere mentioned, 
unless he is the 'Ceallach, Prince of Scotland,' who is said to have been 
killed in the great battle described in Annal 931 (937) of the Annals of 
Clonmacnoise. The Pictish Chronicle, An. 934, has : 'In xxxiv ejus 
anno bellum Duinbrunde ubi cecidit Alius Constantini.' 

47. Hlehlian ne porftun. Cf. Juliana., 1. 526. 

53. Ncpgledcnearruni. For this phrase cf. 0. Sax. negilid skip and 
the parallel expression ncegledbord, Riddle 59, 1. 5 ; Genesis, 1. 1433. 

54. Dinges mere. The name is unexplained. It would seem to mean 
the Irish Sea or some portion of it. 

60. Letan him behindan, etc. The eagle, raven, and wolf form part of 
the traditional epic features of the picture of a battle in A. S. poetry. 
Cf. Beowulf, 1. 3024 fi". ; Elene, 1. 110 ft: In Judith, 1. 205 S"., the resem- 
blance to this passage is so close that a literary connection between the 
two has been suggested by Cook (cf. Judith, Boston, 1904), p. xxii. 

61. Saluwigpadan. Cf. Be Manna Wyrdtim, 1. 37. 

62. Hasewan padan. Cf. Hrafnsmdl, str. 4 {hosfja&ri). 

63. Earn a;ftan hmt, no doubt the white-tailed eagle {Haliaettts 
albicilla). As late as the early years of last century it nested in the 
N.W. of England and S.W. of Scotland, but now rarely breeds south of 

68. pees t>e tis secgaS bee. Cf. Sax. Chron. (A, B, C) sub an. 973, 1. 14. 
The ref. to Enqle and Seaxe (1. 70) comes ultimately no doubt from 
Bede, H. E. i, 15. 

69. Ealde utSioitan, strictly in apposition to bee, lit. 'books, our 
ancient sages.' 

182 NOTES 


Note the following exceptional forms : 

gjoengr (Icel. gengr) str. 3, sist (Icel. s^st from sysla), str. 13. 

p. 78. Vitmn,..fa(5mhyggvi, i.e. slain, those who died in battle being re- 
garded as passing to Valholl and at the same time as being sacrificed 
to Othin. It was not uncommon to dedicate an enemy's army to Othin 
before the commencement of a battle. Cf. the iSaga of Hrumund 
Greipsson^ ch. 2; Saga of HervUr and Heithrek\ ch. 14; Styrbjarnar 
pdttr, ch. 2, etc. etc. Cf. also Chadwick, The Cidt of Othin (London, 
1899), p. 6 fF. 

eineygja..fa(Smbyggvi, i.e. Othin. Cf. Voluspd, str. 28, 29; Gylfa- 
ginning, ch. 15. 

p. 79, 1. A nnat skulu. Munch and Unger understand this strophe to be 
put in the mouth of some man of the Danish court expressing his con- 
tempt of Harold the Fairhaired, whom he has probably not hitherto 
known as a warlike king. They emend />cer to peir and take arnbdttir 
Ragnhildar as voc. : transl. 'They shall have something else to relate 
over their cups, ye gallant dames, handmaidens of Ragnhildr, than 
that ye are battle-lynxes (i.e. wolves), whom Harold has (hitherto) 
stinted,' etc. 

amhdttir Ragnhildar. Ragnhildr was the chief wife of Harold the 
Fairhaired, and was called Ragnhildr in rika. She was the daughter of 
Eric, king of Jutland, and mother of Eric B165ox. It is said that when 
King Harold married her he put away nine of his other wives. Cf. the 
Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heimskringla\ ch. 21. 

2. Holmrygjum. Cf p. 188. 

Hortsa meyjum. HorSaland was the district surrounding the Har- 
danger Fjord. 

hiierri...Heinversku. HeiSmork (now Hedemarken) in the east of 

Eolga cettar, i.e. the people of Halogaland. For Holgi (the husband 
or father of ThorgertJr Holgabrii'Sr) see Saxo, Book ill, p. 87 ; Skdld- 
skaparmdl, ch. 44. 

konungr enn ky7ist6ri, i.e. King Harold. Cf. the Battle of Eafsfjord, 
str. 1. 

komt, Danska, i.e. Ragnhildr. Cf. str. above. 

1. HlytSi hringberendr, lit. 'Let those who wear bracelets, torques, 
etc., hearken ' (cf. Beoivulf 11. 623, 3017), or possibly 'who carry swords.' 
Cf. F. J6nsson, Diet. s. v. 

avaraxifSgha^ i.e. afar-. So Munch and Unger, Wisen and F. Jonsson. 
Wisen (following in part the text of Munch and Unger in their Lcesehog, 
Christiania, 1847) has conjecturally restored the text of the entire 
poem in Carmina Noi-rcena (Lund, 1886), p. 1 1 flf. A more recent restora- 
tion of the text is that of F. Jonsson in his edition of the Fagrskinna 
(Copenhagen, 1902-3), pp. 6—12, footnotes. 

frd mdlom...dcemde. The sentence does not seem to be strictly 
syntactical. The simple form of the sentence would be 'er^ 
hramn doemde' ; but it is turned into a dependent clause by the intro- 
duction of the phrase ek...hoeyr(Si, after which one would have expected 
an infinitive. 

NOTES 183 

2. Vera)'...kncn7ii. I have followed v. Friesen in emending sva- to 
/<'/-, hut there is a serious corruption in the text. Munch and Linger 
i-ead vig />. v., vcerar ne ram, fyekk er j^6 in frdnleita, etc., and suggest 
(cf. note in ed., p. 137) 'The valkyrie thought herself warlike, (and 
though Valkyries in general) are not gentle, yet she is charming, she the 
bright-eyed one, who,' etc. Wison read {vcerar ne. vdru) peklc's p6 en 
frdnU'ita, 'restless were the valkyries — yet charming was the bright- 
eyoii maid.' The reading given in Ms. A {•!) Jn't-k-ir fcnno Innni framleito 
would translate 'no pleasure did the bright-eyed Finnish maid take (in 
men).' For a discu.ssion of this and the following passage see O. v. 
Friesen, Ark. f. nord. Filol., Vol. 14 (1902), p. 62 ff. 

glcegghvarma, lit. 'with shining eyelid.' Wis^n, F. J6nsson, etc. follow 
the variant reading ghihvarma, and they and Munch and Unger trans- 
pose kvcerlchvita and ghvhvarma for the sake of the alliteration. 

H/imiss hausrceyti. The expression is unexi)lained. Munch and Unger 
suggested that Hi'/mir is to be taken as referring to Ymir, the primeval 
giant from whose skull the sky was formed (cf. Vaff>r[i)^nismdl, .str. 
21), in which Hi'pniss hausroeyti im^imQ&n 'sky-plucker,' i.e. bird ; 
but no confusion between H;^mir and V'mir is found elsewhere. In 
IIymishvi(Sa, str. 31 it is stated that 'Hymir's skull is harder than any 
jar.' It is conceivable that Hymir is introduced here as a 'spirit of the 
rocky waste' (cf JJ^niisk-vi&a, str. 27); but more probably the ex- 
pression is due to some lost myth. 

rt home vinhjarga. The meaning of v. is uncertain. F. J6nsson (cf. 
Diet, s.v.) translates: 'klipper ved (omgivende) enge.' Wisdn suggested 
hijmrum for hormum (cf hamrahjarg, cited by Vigfusson, Diet. s.v. 
hjarg) ; von Friesen {Ark: f. nord. Filol, Vol. 14 (1902), p. 66 f ) takes 
vinhjarga to be for vindhjarga (i.e. clouds), and er as referring to the 
valkyrie (cf. HelgakviSa Uundingshana ii, str. 4. 

3. yi:er...liggja, lit. 'Ye have passed the night, I think, where ye 
knew the dead were lying.' 

4. HmfjaSri, cf. The Batde of Brunanhurh, 1. 62. 

5. A Kvimium, unknown, perhaps in HorSaland. Cf. F. Jonsson, 
Diet. s.v. 

djupum rcetSr, etc. For details of Scandinavian battleships in the 
Viking Age, see Kr. Kalund in Paul's Grundriss der Germanischen 
Philoloaie, Bd. ill (Strassburg, 1900), pp. 464 — 470; Montelius, ^w^^ifr- 
geschicnte Schwedens (Leipzig, 1906), p. 259 ff. 

rof^num rondum. Cf. the ships on the Baveux Tapestry. See C. A. 
Stothard in Vehista Monumenta, London, 1885, Vol. vi, Plates 1, 2, 6,8-10. 

6. Fr(rys...h€efja, generally interpreted as 'fight'; but Freyr is not 
elsewhere a god of war. Cf Vigfusson, Diet. s.v. leikr. 

elldcdli, a cm. Af-y. F. Jonsson translates 'baking,' 'warming (one- 
self by the tire.' 

vattu. Vfgfusson suggested ' pillows,' but gives no other reference for 
this use of the word. 

7. Hversso er, etc. Munch and Unger understand the construction to 
hahversso er fegjiifull Ognjiytir f>eim, er fold verja, (ok) vi(S itra i}>r6ttar- 
menn sina, 'what of the generosity which the martial leader sliows to 
those who guard the land and to his splendid champions.' F. J6nsson 
emends (cf Diet. s.v. itr) to itrir it>r6ttarmem. 

8. llknum vcerpa. The reference is to the game oi hneftafl, also called 
King Itrek's Game, which appears to have had certain features in 
common with chess, and which wa.s played in Scandinavia and Iceland 

184 NOTES 

till the introduction of the latter game, probably in the thirteenth 
century. It would seem that, like the Welsh tawlhvirdd^ it was played 
between sides composed, the one of sixteen 'fair' (white) men, the 
other of a king (called hnefi or hunn) and eight 'dark' (black) men. 
Three of the riddles of Gestumblindi refer to this game (cf. Hervarar 
Saga, ch. 11). In one of these the hunn is described as 'that 
which slays people's flocks and is girt around with iron. It has eight 
horns, yet no head, and it runs when it can.' The answer is : 'That is 
the hunn in hneftafi. It has the same name as a bear. It runs as soon 
as it is thrown.' For further details see H. J. R. Murray, A History of 
Chess (Oxford, 1913), Appendix i, 'Chess in Iceland,' pp. 443 — 446. 

malme Uunlenzkum. Does this mean steel, or gold ? F. J6nssou 
understands the latter, and compares Vdla malme in Hindluljotf, str. 9. 
For Hiinlenzkr cf. note to the Battle of the Goths and Huns, str. 2. 

9. HiJmlur, the strap in which the oar was secured, generally in 
small ships. It was itself fastened to a hdr or upright-standing curved 
liiece of wood, against which the oar worked. 

10. At skallda reitSo. It is interesting to compare with this passage 
the position of the Welsh poets as set forth in the Welsh Laws. Cf. 
Wade-Evans, Welsh Medieval Law (Oxford, 1909), pp. 167 f., 179 f. 

greppa fer&ir. The meaning of this expression is not clear. Fritzner, 
Gering, etc. understand greppr to mean a warrior (cf. garpr). fer^ir 
greppa would then mean ' the expeditions of his warriors.' Vigfusson, 
Wisen and F. J6nsson however understand greppr to mean 'a poet,' 
'skald,' s^vAfertSir greppa 'troops of poets.' 

11. Faghrrenda'dom, a doubtful form which does not occur elsewhere. 
Vfgfusson emends to -rendum (cf. Diet. s.v. fagr-rendr). Von Friesen 
(following B) suggests /(id'om rondum, 'with painted shields'). 

silfrvof&um. Munch and Unger and F. Jonsson, 'wound round with 
silver thread.' Wisen 'argento revinctus.' 

12. Berscerkja. Cf. p. 88 above ; cf. also Ynqlinga Saga, ch. 6 ; Du 
Chaillu, The Viking Age (London, 1889), Vol. I'l, p. 423 tf. 

fenget. Munch and linger, followed by Wisen, emend to fag nitS. The 
former also read per instead of er, following MS. B 1 ; translate ' How 
do you like the martial heroes,' etc. 

13. Aroe&esmonnum, etc. Cf. the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired 
{Heimskringla), ch. 9. 

i skjolld hoggva, lit. ' strike upon the shield.' 

14. (Ergdti. So F. J6nsson, who translates 'royal entertainment, 
amusement.' Munch and Unger emended to organ, 'grimaces, gestures.' 
Wisen translated 'oblectamentum, quo hospites excipiuntur.' 

Anndad'r. F. J6nsson suggests that the more correct form of 
the name would be QuduSr, cf. German Andahad. In his opinion the 
juggler was undoubtedly a German ; cf. Diet. s.v. Anda&r. Nothing is 
known of him ; but in MS. R of The Saga of Hervor and Hei(5reh, ch. 11, 
the answer to the riddle about King (trek's Oame reads ' >at er Itrekr ok 
Auda'Sr, er )>eir sitja at tafli sinu.' For a different explanation see 
M. Olsen, 'Til HaraldskvgeSi 23' in Ark. f nord. Filol., Vol. 27 (1914), 
p. 381 f. ; cf. also Maal og Minne, 1913, p. 66 ff. 

logandum hufum, etc. The latter half of this strophe is obscure. 
F. Jonsson understands the passage to refer to some conjuring trick. 
He regards hafa ser as equivalent to hafask (cf. Lex. Poet. s.v. hafa, 
13, c). For hufum Vfgfusson and Powell read lufum and translate : 'The 
tripping fellows tuck their flaming shock-locks under their belts.' 

NOTES 185 


1. / HafrsfirtSi. Hafsfjord is a small fjord on the west coast of Roga- 
land. Cf. p. 88 above. Wisen and F. Jonsson appear to take i Ifafrs- 
firiS'i with the vocative, and translate : 'You can hear in H. how,' etc., 
which certainly renders the order of the words more intelligible; but 
the variant readings suggest that difficulty was felt with this passage 
in early times. 

koiu'ingr eitn h/nst6ri, i.e. Harold the Fairhaired. F. J6nsson thinks 
a deliberate contrast is offered by the adjectives kynstdri and autSlag^r, 
lineage being held of greater account than wealth.'d\t. It was suggested by G. Storm that Haklangr 
(cf. str. 3 below) and Kjotvi were identical with Olaf the A\nute and 
his father GuSrotfr. His paper has not been accessible to me, but 
a reference is given to it by Sir H. H. Howorth in the Saga Book of the 
Viking Club, Vol. ix, p. 172 ff. Olaf the White disappears from Irish 
history about this time, and it is stated in the Three Fragments of 
Annals (ed. J. O'Donovan, Dublin, 1860), sub an. 871, that he went to 
Lochlami, which is generally identified with Norway. He had ruled 
over Dublin for about twenty years. 

knerrir...tinglum, cf. Landndmabdk, iv, ch. 7. The battleships of the 
Viking Age were frequently elaborately carved, especially at the prow 
and stern, which generally took the form of the head of a dragon or 
other animal. Cf. Hrafnsmdl, str. 5 note. 

2. Hvitra skjalda. According to F. J6nsson the 'white' shields were 
foreign. Cf. Glymdrdpa, str. 4. 

vestrcenna, i.e. 'from the British Isles.' The preceding seventy -five 
years had been a period of constant raids in the British Isles, and by 
this time a considerable Norwegian population was settled there, 
especially in Dublin, the Hebrides and Orkney. 

Valskra, prob. ' from Valland,' i.e. France, unless the word is a tra- 
dition from earlier (Roman) times. We may perhaps cf. the word 
frakka (spear) in Rigspula, str. 35, A.S. franca, if this word is derived 
from the name of the Franks {Frakkar, A.S. Francan). Cf. also 
superne gar. Battle of Maldon, 1. 134. 

berserkir. Cf. Hrafnsmdl, str. 12 note. 

a sinnum. Vfgfusson, F. J6nsson, etc., translate 'was drawing to a 
close'; cf. Rigsjf>ula, str. 31. 

ulfhetSnar, i.e. berserkir. Cf. Vigfusson, Diet. s.v. berserkr. 

3. A ustmanna. F. J6nsson takes this to mean Norwegians generally, 
in which .sense the word is often used to distinguish the people of the 
homeland from those who had settled in the West. But is this sense 
really appropriate here ? Harold's original kingdom was in the East, 
viz. Vestfold, near the Christiania Fjord. 

at Utsteini. It is a question whether we should not translate 'is 
residing,' and take the pa.ssage as referring to temporary quarters, for 
which pur})0se the position of the island would obviously be suitable. 
Cf. p. 89 above. In this case we should perhaps (with Wisen and 
F. J6nsson) understand h. i. llaf. (str. 1, 1. 1) as an address to the 

st6^iLm...brd, lit. 'He set in motion the studs of Nokkvi.' Nokkvi, 
according to F. .Icinsson, is the name of a sea-king. Cf. Hyndlrdj6<)', 
str. 20 ; Thidur, iii, 1. One of the kings killed at the Battle of Solskel 
was called Nokkvi. Cf. the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heims- 
hringla), ch. 10. 

186 NOTES 

stillir. So most editors, e.g. Munch and Unger, Nygaard, Wisen, etc. 
The latter omits Nokkvi. ¥. Jonsson omits, regarding it as a later 
addition. Cf. his edition of the Heimskringla (Copenhagen, 1893-1901), 
p. 124, footnote. Cf. also str. 1 above, n. 

Haklangr, i.e. Thorir Haklangr, perhaps king of AgSir. Cf p. 88 
above, footnote 2. 

4. Lufu, i.e. Harold. The nickname was given to him in the early- 
part of his career in consequence of a vow which he made not to cut or 
comb his hair till he was ruler of all Norway. Cf. the Saga of Harold 
the Fairhaired {Heimskringla), ch. 4. When the conditions were fulfilled 
he had his hair washed and combed, and was afterwards called ' Harold 
the Fairhaired ' {ib. ch. 23). 

hilmi enum haJsdigra, F. Jonsson emends (cf ed. 1913) to hilmir enn 
halsdigri ; but lei&ask is used impersonally elsewhere. Cf. Diet. s.v. 
The hihni referred to is Kjotvi. According to F. Jonsson there is 
a touch of irony here and throughout the poem, e.g. es J^eimflceja kendi, 
str. 3. He understands the meaning to be that although a bully (cf his 
' thick neck'), yet he showed no inclination, etc. 

holm let ser at skjaldi, i.e. (according to Munch and Unger, F. 
Jdnsson, etc.) they landed and used the island as a vantage ground. 
According to the latter authority the holmr is a small island in 

5. Svdfnis salncefrar, lit. ' made Svafnir's hall shingles to glitter on 
their backs ' — an allusion to the shields with which the roof of Valholl 
was thatched. Cf Grimnismdl, str. 9 (skjoldum salr pakipr). Noefrar^ 
strictly ' shingles of birch wood.' Svdfnir, a name of Othin, cf. Grimnis- 
mdl, str. 54 ; Thidur, iv, 4. 

hyggjandi, ironical according to F. Jonsson. 

austr hylfur. Early editors (e.g. Munch and Unger, Nygaard, Wisen) 
printed autSkylfur, following ms. F, and translate 'rich men.' Vi'gfusson 
and F. J6nsson read austkyljur {-ir V.). The former translated 'easter- 
lings,' and compared the Kylfingar east of the Baltic. F. J6nsson 
translates 'Eastern logs.' Cf. Diet. s.v. av^tkylfa. Cf. also note 4 s.v. 
hilmi e. h. above. 

Ja(5ar{r), the district of Rogaland which juts out to the south of 
Hafsfjord, in the S.W. corner of Norway. The Austkyljur ('Eastern 
logs') are those of the confederates who had come from AgSir and 

hugtSu d mjo<ydrykkju. The passage seems to suggest that the author 
thought that the confederates in question were more keen on drinking 
than on fighting. Cf also the terms (contemptuous?) auMagSa, 
austkylfur, and possibly hilmir halsdigri. It is to be borne in mind, 
however, that the poem is probably incomplete. 


1. Drauma. Wisen, following MS. 757 of Snorri's Edda, reads doema, 
'What marvel is this? ' In this case hugtSumk should no doubt be trans- 
lated 'I was intending to.' 

jiri dag liilu. Munch and Unger and Wisen, following the text of 
Snorri'a Edda, have/i/r dag risa, '(I thought I was) rising before day.' 

NOTES 187 

ValhiiU, lit. ' the abode of wan'iors who have died in battle.' Cf. 
Orivinismdl, str. 8; Oylfaginning , oh. 20, 36, 38—41. rUSja: Icel. 

einherja(r), cf. Hdkonarmdl, str. 16, note. 

hcchi at stni, etc. In the homes of king.s and other wealthy people it 
was the custom to make elaborate pri^parations before a feast. The 
walls were hung with tapestry and the benches spread with cloth or fur. 
Cf. Thri/mskviiSa, str. 22 ; VegtamskviSa, str. 6. 

boriSkcer. Wisdn and F. Jdnsson translate 'table service' or 'plate.' 
lyiSra : Icel. leytSra. 

valkyrjur viii bera. Cf. Gylfaginmng, ch. 36, where the valkyries are 
said to attend to the mugs and table service as well as to the pouring 
out of the wine. 

si-ii. F. Jonsson takes svd with glatt ; but does it not rather mean 
' under these circumstances ' ? 

2. Ilvat J^rymr, etc. Most editors (e.g. Munch and linger, Wisc'u, 
F. Jonsson, Holthausen, etc.) divide this strophe between Othin and 
Bragi, assigning 11. 1 and 2 to the former, and 11. 3 and 4 to the latter. 
It may be observed however that Bragi's answer does not seem to be 
particularly appro})riate to the question, nor does str. 3 harmonise well 
with the opening lines of str. 2, if the latter is si)oken by Othin. 
Possibly there is a corru]ition in 1. 1 ; in the original text the whole 
strophe may have been assigned to Bragi, and it has been so taken in 
Nygaard's ed. Elsewhere in the poem the speaker is generally indicated 
by the phrase '■qvad' — ' rather than by the use of the vocative. 

Bragi, the skald of the Jilsir. Cf. Orimnismdl, str. 44 ; Lokasenna, 
str. 8 ff. ; Gylfaginning, ch. 26 ; Bragarroe(Sur, passim. 

Dalldr. For the fullest account of Balder's death, cf. Gylfaginning, 
ch. 49. 

i Ud'ins sale, i.e. ValhiiU, cf str. I above. 

3. Scallt pu. Munch and Unger emend to skalattu ; so also Wisen ; 
NygJiard, skaltu ; Holthausen (1896) and F. J6nsson (1913) skalatt. Can- 
not .^callt be used here to express a suggestion in the mind of the 
speaker ? Cf the use of skal in Modern Danish. 

/J at, so Mss. {f}6at) followed by Nygaard. Munch and Unger emended 
to pviat; Wisen, Holthausen and F. Jonsson (1913) to fivit. The 
emended texts would translate ' Thou must not talk folly, thou wise 
Bragi, — for thou knowest everything well.' 

4. Sigmundr oc Sinfjatli. For the story of Sigmundr and Sinfjbtli see 
Vohungasaga, ch. 7 fit", (cf. Beowulf, 1. 874 ff.). Sigmundr was the father 

also of Helgi, the hero of the two HelgakvWur Ffundingsbana, and of 
the still more famous SigurSr, the hero of several poems of the Edda. 

5. pli at margu lannde, etc. For Eric's adventures, cf the Saga of 
Harold the Fairhaired {Ueimskringla), ch. 34 f. 

6. pvi...go'iSa. For the phrase /^in...vita, cf. Hdvamdl, str. 38. The 
passage seems to be anacoluthic. The .sentence ' It cannot be known 
(when) — ' being cut short by a new idea, 'the wolf is (even now) 
gazing,' etc. 

ulfr, i.e. the wolf of Feiu'ii', cf. Hdkonarmdl, str. 20, note. 

7. Vivl...kominn/ Cf. Fjiilsvinnsmdl, str. 48. 

8. Konongar eni V. For the fall of Eric and the five kings cf. the 
Saga of Haakon the Good {Heiinskringla), ch. 4. 

188 NOTES 


1. GondvZ ok Skogul (also Geirskbgul, cf. str. 12) are valkyries whom 
Othin appoints to decide the course of the battle. Cf. Voluspd, str. 31; 
Orimnismdl, str. 36, etc. 

Oautatyr. Gautr, VdfoSr (cf. str. 5) and Hroptatyr (cf. str. 14) are 
all names applied by Othin to himself in Orimnismal, str. 54. Gautatyr 
would seem originally to have meant the god (cf. tivar, pi.) of the 
Gautar, i.e. the inhabitants of Gotaland in the south of Sweden, the 
Geatas of Beowulf. The word is also extended to mean men in 
general. Cf. F. Jonsson, Diet. s.v. Cf. also DarratSarljotS, str. 8, note ; 
Sonatorrek, str. 21. 

Yngvi is a surname of Freyr, from whom the royal family of Norway 
claimed descent. The genealogy is given in Ynglingatal and Ynglin- 
gasaga. at, adv. cf. atvist. 

2. Br6Sur...Bjarnar, i.e. King Haakon. Bjorn, son of Harold the 
Fairhaired and Svanhildr (cf. the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired — 
Heimskringla, ch. 21), who was made ruler of Vestfold under his father 
(cf. ih. ch. 33), fell at the hands of Eric B166ox, his brother, at Sseheimr 
(cf. ib. ch. 35). He was called Bjorn the Merchant on account of his 
trading interests. Cf. also Egils Saga, ch. 56, 59. 

i hrynju fara, so Vigfusson and F. Jonsson, cf. Diets, s.v. fara. Cf. 
also F. Jonsson's edition of the Heimskringla (Copenhagen, 1893-1901), 
Vol. IV, p. 54. This sense does not seem to me to agree very well with 
str. 4 however. Possibly we may translate ' marching in coat of mail.' 
The reading of F should not be overlooked. 

dolgrdar, em. Holthausen ; so also F. J6nsson (cf. Diet. s.v. dolgrg), 
who translates ' battle-yardarm,' ' battle-rod,' 'spear.' Cf. however ib. 
s.v. dolg^r, which he translates as ' battle-oar,' ' sword.' The latter (pi. 
dolgdrar) is the reading kept by most editors, e.g. Nygaard ( Udvalg af 
den Norrone Literatur, Bergen, 1875, p. 320), Wisen {Carmina Norrcena, 
Limd, 1886, p. 16), Wimmer {Oldnordiske Lcesebog'^, Copenhagen, 1889, 
p. 2), following MS. J(l). Unger {Heimskringla, Christiania, 1868, p. 104) 
keeps the text of the Fagrskinna, ddlgar, transl. ' battle,' ' strife.' So 
also Munch and Unger {Oldnorsk Lcesebog, Christiania, 1847, p. 115). 

3. Het. F. Jonsson translates ' had called upon.' 

Hdleygi, i.e. the men of Hdlogaland, the northern province of ancient 
Norway, corresponding approximately to the modern Nordland. 

Holmrygi, i.e. the men of Rogaland in the south-west of Norway. 
Cf. p. 79 above. The name is identical with that of the Rugii (A.S. 
Holmryge, Jordanes' Ulmrugii) on the coast of Pomerania. 

einbani. F. J6nsson understands this to mean that Haakon had 
made his conquests alone, without foreign help. Vigfusson regards ein- 
as intensive. 

gjofii, so Nygaard, Wisen, Wimmer, etc., following mss. J (1), A; 
Unger gives gofgi, following mss. K, B. F. Jdnsson quotes this passage 
under both words in his Diet. 

gengi NortSmanna. Cf. the Battle of Brimanburh, 1. 18, note s.v. 
guma norperna. 

Eydana (gen.), lit. ' Danes of the Isles.' Cf. the Saga of Haakon the 
Good {Heimskringla), ch. 6 — 9. 

4. Hrauzk or hervd'Sum, etc. From the Saga of Haakon the Good, 
chs. 6 and 30, it would seem to have been Haakon's custom to cast off 
his helmet and mail coat before beginning to fight. Cf. str. 2 above, note. 

NOTES 189 

fki/ldi...verja, a parenthesis. Cf. the Battle of Brunanburh, 1. 7 ff. 

gramr. Wimiuer {Oldnordhk Lcesebog, Copenhagen, 1889, p. 129) 
emends to gylti following the text of the second half of this strophe 
quoted in Skdldska parmdl ^ ch. 64. 

.s7(nV and ijullhjalmi. The gilded helmet appears often to have been 
the distinguishing feature of a king or prince. Cf. the Saga of Olaf 
Tiyggra.ton (Heimskringla), ch. 104 ; Saga of St Olaf {ib.), ch. 213 etc. 
Cf.' also Atlal-nd'a, str. 4. 

5. Svd...sver(y, etc. Haakon's sword was called 'Quernbiter' because 
with it he is said to have once cleft a quern-stone. It was a very fine 
sword with golden hilts. Haakon had received it as a present from 
King Aethelstan during his sojourn in England, and he is said to have 
kept it till his death. Cf. the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heim- 
skn'/igla), ch. 43. 

siklingr, strictly an old dynastic name, but, like other names of this 
kind, used by poets for 'king' or ' prince' in general. Cf. Skdldskapar- 
mdl, ch. 63 ; Ifversu Noregr Bi/g'dist, ch. 2. 

vdiSir VdfaiSar, i.e. armour. VdfotSr is Othin. Cf. Thulur, iv, 5 

sem...bryg(^i. For the same expression cf. Gongu-Hrolfs Saga, ch. 3 ; 
Brdlfs Saga Gautrekssonar, ch. 20. Cf. also Olrfk, Heroic Legends, etc. 
pp. 131, 175 (trausl. Hollander). 

glymhringar. F. Jonsson adopts the reading of MS. J., gylfringar, 
which he translates ' sword,' and suggests a possible connection with 
gjalfr. Cf. Diet. s.v. gylfringr. 

gotna (g. pi.), an ancient name of a people (the Goths) which has 
come to be used merely for men. Cf. str. 1, note s.v. Gautatyr. 

6. Troddiisk tiirgur, etc. Strophes 6 — 8 are difficult owing to the 
number of kennings contained in them. The natural order of the words 
appears to me to be torgur ok hausar triiddusk fyr hartSfotum bauga Tys 
Nor'Smanna. Bauga Tyr, lit. 'the god who gives rings' or 'money,' 
a kenning for king. So also Nygaard, Wimmer, Holthausen, etc. 
F. J6nsson, however, holds that torgur and hausar are asyndetic, and 
that yordmanna can hardly be explained otherwise than as parallel to 
bauga Tys. He regards the position of ok as supporting this view. 

hjalta hartSfotum, lit. 'the sharp feet of the hilt,' i.e. the sword-blade. 
i eyju, i.e. the island (Stordo), the scene of the battle. Cf. p. 101 above. 
konungar, perhaps poet. pi. for sing. Cf. however the reading of F. 

7. Brunnu beneldar, etc. Again perhaps poet. pi. for sing., referring 
to the king's sword. Lit. ' the wound-tires burned in bloody wounds.' 
Beneldar, a kenning for 'sword.' ('f. Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 48: 'Axes or 
swords are called _^res of blood or of wounds.' 

langbar&ar, 'swords' according to Wisen, F. J6nsson and Holthausen; 
'halberds' according to Nygaard and Wimmer. According to the Saga 
of Haakon tlie Good {Heimskrmgla), ch. 28, Haakon was armed with a 
hallierd {ke.ija), as well as with a sword. For a description of the kesja 
see Egilji Saga, ch. 53. 

svarraiyi, a arr. Xey., lit. 'a gymir (myth, personification of the sea) 
of wounds roared (?) against the headland of swords.' 

a sveriSa nesi. Most editors (e.g. Nygaard, Wisen, Wimmer, F. J6nsson, 
etc.) take this as a kenning for ' shield,' no doubt on the analogy of 
such expressions as hauka nes, bauga nes, nes orma, etc. I have taken 
it to mean ' point of the sword ' on analogy with the commoner use 
of nes as the projecting part of the object specified in the preceding 
genitive. Cf. the kenning hryggja nes, ' tail.' 

190 NOTES 

flats fleina, lit. ' flood of (i.e. from) darts,' a kenning for blood. Cf. 
F. J6nsson, Diet. s.v. flotS. Other kennings for blood are hjor floti, hrce 
flo^, sarfloS, undaflocS. 

8. Blendusk vi(S rotSnum, etc. So F. Jonsson, Holthausen, etc. 
Unger, Nygaard, Wisen, Wimmer, etc., following K, have rotSnar for 
ro&num and skys for sky (when the order would be vetSr Skoglar skys), 
translate ' Battle (the storms of the shield [Skogul's cloud]) was joined 
(mingled) beneath the canopy of the reddened shield, it (they) played 
around the rims.' 

Skoglar ve&r, dtkins ved'r{i) (cf. 1. iii), kennings for ' battle.' Cf. Skdld- 
skaparmdl, ch. 47, 63 (verse) ; Udttatal, str. 54. 

haugr, here, ' shield,' originally (according to Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 48) 
the circle painted on the shield. 

oddldr, lit. ' waves from the spears,' i.e. blood. 

fyr mwkis straumi^ a kenning for ' blood.' 

9. Doglingar, an old dynastic name like siklingar (cf. str. 5). Cf. 
Hversu Noregr Byg^ist, ch. 2. This is probably another instance of 
poet. pi. for sing., referring to the king alone. 

ok, used as a relative particle. Cf. Vaf}>rupnismdl, str. 5, etc. 
skotnar. So Unger, F. J6nsson, Holthausen, etc., following MS. K. 
Nygaard, Wisen, Wimmer, etc. give skornar, ' rent,' following MS. F. 

10. es Hdkoni, etc. Lit. 'Since the Divine Powers have invited 
Haakon with a great host.' 

bond. The original meaning of the term bond (cf. Hdvamdl, str. 108) 
is uncertain. The fact that hbpt is also used of the deities {AtlakvWa, 
str. 28) points to identity with ' band,' ' chain.' 

13. Orcenna heiina go&a. Cf. Gautrekssaga, ch. 7. 

14. Hermo&r is the name of the messenger of the iEsir who rode 
to Hel to seek out Balder and try to ransom him. Cf. Gylfaginning, 
ch. 49. The HermoSr mentioned in HyndluljotS, str. 2, is pi'obably a 
different person — heroic, not divine — to be identified with the Heremod 
who is mentioned in connection with Sigemund in Beowulf, 1. 901 ff. 
It is uncertain which of the two is intended here. Bragi (see below) is 
a god ; but, on the other hand, the part played by these two persons 
is clearly suggested by that given to Sigmundr and Sinfjotli in Eiriks- 
mdl, str. 4. 

Hroptatyr. Cf. str. 1, s.v. Gautatyr, note. Hroptr is also a name for 
Othin. Cf. Grumnismdl, str. 8. 

sds kappi pykkir, etc. The translation implies that Othin knows 
who Haakon is. It is possible to translate the passage otherwise, viz. 
' who is evidently a hero,' the implication being in this case that Othin 
has not identified him. 

16. Einherja{r\ the name given to the dead warriors in Valholl who 
spend their days in fighting. Cf. Grimnismdl, str. 18 ; Vafprupnismdl, 
str. 41 ; Gylfaginning, ch. 38 — 41. 

f>igg pu...ol, etc. Cf. Gnmnismdl, str. 36 ; Gylfaginning, ch. 39. 
dtta broet5r. For a list (incomplete however) of Harold's sons, cf. 
Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heimskringla), ch. 21. 

17. Gott es, etc. Lit. ' (It is good) to reach for what is ready.' Unger, 
following MSS. F, J (1), gives geirs for gors, transl. 'spear.' 

18—21. pd pat kyndisk, etc. There is no doubt a contrast implied 
here between the happy days of King Haakon and those of Harold 

NOTES 191 

llreycloalc, in whoso reign the poem was composed. Haakon, though a 
C'hi'istian, never enforced Christianity on his subjects, but let them 
worship in their own way, thereby oflbring a strong contrast to Harold 
and his brothers. Cf. p. 102 f. above. The ill-suppressed hostility of 
Eyvindr It) Harold is no doubt further to be accounted for by the 
quarrel between them which is related in the Saga of Harold Orey- 
cloak (ffeimsi-ringla), ch. 1. 

20. FeiiriKulfr. Cf. Eir/hiii<rf, str. 6. The wolf of Fenrir was one of 
Loki's children. It was proplK'siod that when he broke loose from the 
fetter and chain with which the /Esir had bound him, he would devour 
Othin and bring destruction upon the rest of the ^Esir. That would be 
the end of the world or Ragnar^r. Cf. Vdhispd, str. 47 — 58; VafJ>riit>- 
niAmal, str. 46, 47; Oijl fag inning, ch. 34, 51, etc. 

21. Dei/rfe, from Hdmmdi, str. 77 f. (Of. the Waiiderer, 1. 108 f. and n.) 
What follows is a reference to the famine and misery which prevailed 
in Norway under Haakon's successors. Cf. the Saga of Harold Grey- 
cloak, ch. 17. 


1. Vitt es orpit...rei(^islci), perhaps lit. 'The cloth-beam's trappings 
are spread wide.' Cf. p. 1 19 above. The rifr is the back-beam or cloth- 
beam of the upright hand-loom, cf. RigsJ^ula, str. 15. The exact force of 
reit^i- is uncertain, owing to the variations of the texts at this point. 
Most scholars (e.g. F. J6nsson and Hensler) read rifs reitsisky, following 
MS. A and derive reitSi < reida, ' to let hang, carry.' The meaning would 
then be ' The cloud hung on the cloth-beam,' i.e. the wai-}). Magnusson, 
however {Darrad'aljo'd', Viking Club Publications, 1910, p. 14), suggests 
that as the old genitive of rifr was not rifs but rifjar, the sky was 
added by a late scribe to fill in the shortened line. The word rifr 
however is only found here and in Rigspula. 

rignir blotSi, perhaps from the loom. Cf. the War of the Gaedhil 
icith the Gaill, p. 18.3 f. With the passage from Njdlssaga it is interest- 
ing to compare Sturlunga Saga, pp. 219, 220 (Vfgfusson, Oxford, 
1878) : 

' In the winter after the battle on VfSines, many people had dreams. 
A man in SkagafirS dreamed that he entered a big house ; inside sat 
two women covered with blood and rocking to and fro. It seemed to 
him that a rain of blood was pouring in through the chimney. One of 
the women .sang : 

Let us rock, Gu'Sr and Gondul, let us rock ; 
A rain of blood is falling, foreboding slaughter. 
We must betake ourselves to Rapta-hlf'5 ; 
There sacrifice and oaths will be offered to us.' 

vefr verf^j6(5ar. F. Jonsson places a comma after vefr, and makes 
verfj(')<yar dependent on vinur, ' which the friends (f.) of men will fill 
Avith the red woof of Randver's slayer' (cf. Gk Evfifvihes). This however 
is jierhaps a strained view of the valkyries. An emendation of the MS. 
readings J>ivr (E, F) /?(er er (A, I) — perhaps orig. /« er through wrong 
connection with ver/yjd(Tar — seems to be necessary. Heusler suggests 
that the original reading may have been (er) ve'r vinur fyllum, though 
he has er /cer vin ur fylla in his text, but the usual emendation to sds 
{sd er) is simpler. 

192 NOTES 

vinur...Randves bana. The phrase is not easy to explain, though 
there can be no doubt that the whole is a kenning for valkyries. 
Egilsson, F. J6nsson, etc., take Randves bani to be Jormunrekr 
(Eormenric), who, at the instigation of his evil counsellor Bikki, ordered 
his son Randverr to be hanged. (Cf. Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 41 ; Saxo 
Grammaticus, viii, pp 336 — 338, where Randver is called Broderus.) 
Magmisson {op. cit. p. 15) and Bugge {Aarb(fger, etc., 1899, pp. 253-4) 
take Randves bani to be Bikki himself by whom they understand 
a human personation of Othin. The only other person of any conse- 
quence bearing this name is Randver, the son of Rajjbarjjr and Au)jr 
the Deep-minded (cf. E^ndhdj6&, str. 29), and father of SigurSr Hring, 
( Hversu Noregr BygSist, ch. 3). In Hervarar Saga., ch. 16, he is said to be 
the sou of Valdarr. According to ib. MS. I, he is said to have married Asa, 
the daughter of King Harold en GotrauSi from Norway, and to have 
made himself king of Denmark on the death of his father Valdarr. He 
is also said in the same source to have fallen in England by a sudden 
death — ' Randverr konungr var& brd^dautSr? The name Randver also 
occurs in the list of sea kings in Thidur, str. 4. 

It is not known which Randver is referred to in our poem. In all 
probability the text is corrupt. It will be seen that the Mss. vary con- 
siderably, but the other readings hardly give an intelligible sense. 
Pfeiffer keeps the reading of MS. E. Dietrich reads randversk. 

2. ve/r, the threads stretched taut from the cloth-beam {rifr). For 
vefr, skaft etc., cf. p. 119 above. In weaving, the woof threads are 
passed between the warp threads. These warp threads hang downwards 
and are weighted at the bottom. In the old primitive hand-loom the 
weights {kU) were formed of stones and attached to the ends of the 

hartSkljdfSr... manna. The Jomsvikinga Saga (ed. Petersen, Copen- 
hagen, 1882) p. 41 contains a passage — no doubt based on the first two 
strophes of this poem — in which Ingibjorg relates her dream to Pdlner 
as follows : 

' I dreamed that I had set up a loom, and the warp was of flax and 
grey in colour; I dreamed that the warp was weighted, and I stood 
beside it and wove, and there was not much of it woven as far as I could 
see. And when I sleyed the web, a weight fell from the middle of the 
loom, and I picked it up ; and then I saw that the weights were nothing 
but human heads.' 

em dreyrrekin...sk6ftum. The skaft is one of the bars or rods 
(' heddles') with which the threads of the yarn (i.e. the warp) were 
alternately brought forward and thrust back, so that the weft might be 
inserted through the intervening space or 'shed.' The rod having been 
placed in this position was so left during the passage of one strand of 
weft across the loom. Vfgfusson explains the word as ' one of the beams 
in the upright loom,' but this is clearly erroneous ; cf. yllir {ib.) for 
which he oft'ers the same explanation. 

yllir. The exact meaning of this word is unknown. Magmisson, 
following Vfgfusson, understands it to be a 'beam in the upright loom' 
and suggests the ' forebeam,' by which he means presumably the lower 
beam over which hang the weighted ends of the warp. The Scandinavian 
upright loom appears, however, to have had only one beam {rifr). In 
Paul's Grundriss d. germ. Phil. (Strassburg, 1900), Vol. in, p. 479 the 
word is explained as an implement used for making plush, i.e. a kind 
of teasel, and as being derived from idl^ 'wool'— the derivation also 
favoured by Vi'gfussou. 

NOTES 193 

onon hncliii^r. Ilrcela is explained by Fritzner {Ordhog. s.r.) a.s tlie 
act of pulling taut the weft tlireuds with a hnvll between the warp 
threads, so jis to stretch them and make them even. The krivll '\n a 
pointed implement of bone or hard wood which was used to carry the 
weft into its proper place. Vfgfusson appears to confuse with 'slcyiiig' 
which is the next stage in the process of weaving. Magnusson's expla- 
nation, ' provided with reed made of arrows ' {sc. vefr) is nearer the 
mark, though it involves a chronological difficulty, and overlooks the 
J>1. srerd'inii in the following line, wliere a single instrument is certainly 
implied. Both words arc no doubt poet. pi. for sing. 

sld, to ' sley ' or ' beat ' the threads of the weft into theii- proper 
place so that Ciich shall sit in closejuxbiposition to the last, and a close, 
firm texture may result. The implement used for this purpose was the 
s^-eUy, a sword-shaped (cf. Fritzner, Ordh.) implement or batten, the 
place of which in the modern hand-loom has been taken by the ' reed.' 

3. Gengr Ilildr re/a, etc. Hildr, Hjorjjrimul, etc. are evidently the 
names of valkyries. Hildr is named among the valkyries in Viiimpd, 
str. 31 and Grimnismdl, str. 3G. Svipall is one of the names applied to 
Othin in (h-'tmaismdl, str. 47 ; Sanngrid'r is possibly to be identified 
with R<tndgriJ\ one of the valkyries mentioned in Grimnismdl, str. 36. 

hjalmgagaiT, lit. ' the dog of the helmet,' i.e. the sword, a aw. \ey. 
Gagarr is a Gaelic loan-word. 

4. Vindum vef, lit. ' We are twisting the web,' i.e. passing the threads 
of the weft alternately imder and over those of the warp. Vindum 
may be imper. (let us weave), though on the whole I think the indie, is 
more likely. The vefr darrabar is, of course, the battle, and the weaving 
of the web of spears and the singing of the lay form a spell by which 
the fate of the battle is governed, and safety ensured for the ' young 
king.' It is curious that in the Irish account of the battle also as 
related in the ^yar of the Gaedhil iinth the Gaill, p. 175, superhuman 
beings are said to have taken an active interest in the course of the 

'And there arose a wild... vulture, screaming and fluttering over their 
heads... and the witches, and the goblins, and the ancient birds, and the 
destroying demons of the air and of the firmament, and the feeble 
demoniac phantom host ; and they were sci'eaming and comparing the 
valour and combat of both parties. ' 

For the word darra^ar (nom. darratSr) which occurs also in Egill's 
HofutSlausn, composed in 936, cf. p. 1 15 above. It appears to be an A.S. 
loan-word in Norse, possibly acquired about this time. It occurs also in 
AtlakvitSa, str. 4. Cf. also the ffdttatal, str. 52. 

sds. I have kept the reading of the Mss., though it involves 
omission of the relative — an unusual and awkward construction. Most 
editors emend to pann's ('the web which,' etc.). Heusler emends to 
svd sem ; but I am inclined to suspect that the corruption lies in the 
second half of the line. 

\ingr konungr. Cf. Introduction, p. 116 above. 

dtti fyrri. The force oi fyrri is not clear. Is it the nom. sing, of the 
compar. adj. (' which the j'oimg king has been the first to own') or is it 
the compar. adv. ('which... has had previously,' cf. F. J6ns.son, Jirennu- 
Njdlssaga., Halle, 1908, p. 415, u.)'>. Equally uncertain is the object to be 
understood ;vs governed by dtti. Does it refer to battles, or can it be 
some new spell being produced by the loom, which no one has had (i.e. 
has had the benefit of) before? The edition of 1889 suggested hoiidum 
after fyrri {or fi/ri, cf. Ms. F), 

K. 13 

194 NOTES 

5. Ok . . .fylgjum, or perhaps 'We will afterwards aid.' 
siklingi. Cf. Introduction, p. 116 above. 

hragna, so F. Jonsson, Heusler, Asmundarson, etc. following the 
emendation of Thorkelsson and Gislason. Mss. E, F read par sia 
hragnar. Bragnar is a poetical word for warriors, only used in this 
sense in the pi. Cf. F. J6nsson, Diet. s.v. Magnusson, however, follow- 
ing MS. A, reads par sd bera, which involves no emendation, and trans- 
lates 'There Gunnr and Gondul saw borne (saw men bear) bloody 

Gunnr ok Gondul, names of valkj-ries. Cf. Hdkonarmdl, str. 1 and 
note. Gunnr is another form of Gu^^r, mentioned in Voluspd, str. 31, 
etc. The name first occurs in the Runic Inscription of Rok. 

6. pars ve va^a. It is interesting to note that Earl Sigur-Sr was slain 
bearing the famous Raven Banner given to him by his witch mother 
with the words : ' It will bring victory to those before whom it is borne, 
but speedy death to him who bears it ' {Orhieyinga Saga, ch. 11). With 
this passage we may compai-e the War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, 
p. 155 f. : 'King Brian looked out behind him and beheld. ..the lucky, 
fortunate banner that had gained the victory in every battle and in 
every conflict and in every combat.' 

ve...vigra manna. I have taken this as poet. pi. for sing., referring to 
the ' young king.' This interpretation is suggested by the following line, 
though the passage may of course be taken otherwise. Cf . note to farask 

Idturrc eigi, etc. F. Jonsson and Magniisson treat Idtum as imper., 
' Let us not,' etc. 

farask. Dietrich, followed by Pfeiffer, emended the reading of MS. F 
{her) svaraz to sparaz, ' be spared.' In this case the reference would be 
general, and vigra manna would have the true plural sense. 

eigu valkyrjur, etc. So F. J6nsson in his edition. In the Diet., how- 
ever, he takes vols um kostum as 'prospect of slaughter.' Magnusson 
understands kostr in its primary sense of ' choice,' and translates ' among 
the doomed our choice is ample ' [' and therefore we can afford to spare 
him'j. Cf. Grimnismdl, str. 14. 

7. peir munu lytSir, etc. refers to the Norse settlers m the British 
Isles, probably with special reference to Ireland. The extent to which 
they occupied the coasts is shown by the large number of place-names 
which have survived, e.g. Waterford, Wexford, Howth, etc. 

utskaga. According to Fritzner and Vfgfusson skagi denotes a low- 
lying headland, e.g. the Skaw in the north of Jutland, as opposed to 
h6fu(S, a high headland, e.g. Howth. 

rikjum gram. According to F. J&nsson the reference here is to the 
death of Brian Borumh ; but is it not more natural to connect 1. 3 with 
1. 4 which presumably refers to Earl SigurSr? Cf. p. 116 above. 

8. Ok munu Irar, etc. The reference here is probably to the death 
of Brian Borumh. Cf. however p. 116 above. 

ytum. Ytar was originally a national name (like Gotar, etc.; cf. 
below) identical with Bede's hui, a variant of Jotar, but preserved in 
poetry in the sense of 'men' after its proper meaning had been forgotten. 
Cf. Edkonarmdl, str. 1, note s.v. Gautatyr. 

nus vefr oflnn, etc. The connection between the chanting and weaving 
of the spell" and the course of the battle is here clearly indicated. 

Icesjyjiill gota, lit. ' news of the destruction of men.' So F. J6nsson 
and Heusler. Magnusson translates 'the news of the loss of life.' 

NOTES 195 

VfgFusson ami Powell take la', gotn to mean 'devastation of the 
Goths,' which cannot be right. Ld'upjiill i.s a a-rr. \fy., probably 'baleful 
tidings.' Law. means primarily 'fraud, deceit,' then 'plague, evil.' 

Gota{r\ originally a national name (i.e. Goths) which was used in 
poetry in the sense of 'men' after its original meaning had been for- 
gotten. Of. I'/tum above. 

9. Es, possibly causal. Ci. ITrafnsmal, str. 2, 1. 2. 
mlcnrar'i)'ir...hninu. The Mss. "vary considerably in their reading.s 

at this point, lieusler, following Dietrich, Pfeifier, Egilsson and 
Thorkelsson, adopts the reading of mss. E, F — spar vdrar springa 
kunnu, 'while our jjrophecies are fulfilled,' i.e. 'come true ' (the metaphor 
in springa being tixken from the chips of divination) ; springa, however, 
is not used in this sense elsewhere. Heusler himself suggests as an 
alternative meaning ' to spread,' and compares A.S. springan. The 
reading in the text is that adopted by Magniisson, F. J6nsson, and 
Asmundarson. Sdhivariyir is a cnr. Aey. not mentioned in the diction- 
aries of Egilsson, Yigfusson or Fritzner ; but sokn occurs with a similar 
meaning in other compounds, and sdknvar&ir, ' dames of battle,' is no 
doubt identical in meaning with geirjljocj, str. 10 below. 

10. Sigrljdi^a fjoW. I have adopted Heusler's emendation Ijot^a for 
hljuf^a, the reading of the Mss. The same mistake occurs elsewhere, e.g. 
Hyndhihljo'iS, the title of the poem in the Flateyjarhok, Vol. i, p. 11. 

geirjijoba lj6(^. Heusler, following ws. A, reads geirljotSa fjbW, 
'many spear lays,' or 'a long spear lay.' But this reading is surely a 
scribal reminiscence of 1. 3 above. The readings of mss. E, F, I are 
perhaps due to the same cause. It seems on the whole preferable to 
emend to IjotS (as in 1. 2) in place of hlj6&, since 'spells' rather than 
tunes seems to give the sense required. 

11. RiSum hestum, etc. Heusler suggests that two lines have been 
lost after 1. 1. 

Egill's Poems (pp. 129, 130) 

1. pundar. pundr is Othin (cf. Grimnismdl, str. 54), and pundar 
gnyr & periphrasis for 'battle.' 

grar. If we are to believe that these strophes were composed by 
Egill immediately after the battle, groer must be taken as fut., and 
Alu<yi- in str. 2 rendered by ' I have covered ' etc. 

2. Fyr merkistangir, lit. ' in front of the pole on which the standard 
is ciirried.' 

A &ili, one of the jarls who opposed Aethelstan. With his brand he 
slew Th6r611'r. He was him.self slain in the same battle by Egill. Cf. 
ch. 54. 

NaSri. NatSr, i.e. 'Viper,' 'Adder,' was the name of Egill's sword. 
Cf. ch. 53. Cf. also the Battle of the Goths and the Huns, str. 9, note 
s.v. Tyrfingr. 

Aleifr, i.e. Olaf the Red. Cf. p. 126 fl". above. 

Hringr, one of the jarls who fought against Aethelstan's army. Cf. 
note to the poem on Aethelstan, s.v. f>ria jbfra below. 


196 NOTES 

Foldgndrr. The meaning is unknown. In his ed. of Egilsson's Dic- 
tionary Finnur J6nsson suggests the emend, to fald-gn^, which he takes 
with hjaldr^ the whole expression meaning * the goddess of the battle- 
headgear,' i.e. the valkyrie. Then hjaldr-fald-gndarsnerrandi would 
mean ' strengthener of the valkyrie,' or ' of battle,' i.e. warrior. 

Ellu, i.e. iEUa, the usurping Northumbrian king who reigned 863- 
867 and who, according to Norse tradition, captured and put to death 
Ragnarr LoSbr6k. The description of Aethelstan as ni& Ellu would not 
seem to be a particularly happy one. 

hofu^ha^mr. This word occurs again in Arinhjamarhvi^a^ str. 17, 
where it appears to mean 'grandson.' 

pria jiifra. The saga itself would suggest that the 'three princes' 
were Olaf, Hringr and A^ils ; but the true history of the struggle has 
become altogether distorted in Norse tradition, and we are not in a 
position to say who were the princes referred to by the poet. Olaf 
himself was not killed in Aethelstan's lifetime. 

hyrjar hramibrjdtr, for hranri-hyrjar-hrjdtr, lit. ' the distributor of the 
fire of the wave,' i.e. ' of gold ' — a common poetic periphrasis. 

h(Bst...hreinbraut, lit. 'the highest path of the reindeer,' a metaphor 
doubtless borrowed from the mountain ridges of Norway — though there 
were reindeer in Scotland long after this time. 

The Sonatorrek 

1. Mjok enim, etc. The opening of the poem is far from clear. 
I have followed the reading of M and W, though I do not understand 
loftdtt. Presumably it is either a kenning for ' mind ' or ' mouth,' or 
else a term descriptive of the stock (type) of poem required. Most 
editors emend the reading of K to loftvcegi (which they translate 
'pendent weight') and ior prdd'ara read pu/idara, understanding the 
passage as a metaphor from the steelyard. Cf. Vigfusson and F. 
Jdnsson, Diets, s.v. Cf. also B. M. Olsen, 'Versene i Egils Saga' in 
Arkivfor Nordisk Filologi, Vol. xv (1903), p. 125. 

emm, era. These apparently are the forms used by M and W. 
In the remaining strophes I have in general used the forms printed in 
V. Asmundarson's edition, though I have substituted win for of, since 
the former appears to be the form used in the Mss. ; but owing to the 
absence of a satisfactory critical edition it is very difficult to ascertain 
the exact forms used in the mss. for the most part. 

era...pyfi, lit. 'The stolen property of Othin is not to be looked for.' 
Vipurr is one of Othin's names (cf. Grimnismdl, str. 49) and Vifiurs 
J>^Ji is poetry. Othin is said to have stolen the mead OSrcerir from the 
giant Suttungr and given it to the ^Esir, whence comes poetic inspira- 
tion to the ^Esir and to men. Cf. BragaroetSur {Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 1). 

2. Fagnafmidr...nWja, i.e. poetiy. Cf. str. 1, note to ViSws pyfi. 
F. nWja, i.e. the iEsir ; here Othin. Frigg is the wife of Othin. Cf. the 
prose at the beginning of Lokasenna, and str. 26 ib. Cf. also the strophe 
on p. 78 above and note. 

drborinn or Jotunheimum. Cf. str. 1, note. Jotunheimar is the abode 
of ' giants ' {jotnar). Cf. Voluspd, str. 8 ; Prose Fdda, pass. 

3. Lastalauss, etc. The meaning of the first half of this strophe is 
obscure, owing apparently to textual corruption in 1. 2. Cf. F. Jonsson, 
note to the passage in the edition of 1894 (Halle), p. 303, and V. 
Asmundarson, ed. of Egils Saga (Reykjavik, 1910),- p. 305 n. 

NOTES 197 

Bragi. Cf. Eirihsmdl, str. 2, note. 

jotuiis kalif undir, etc., lit. ' The (blood of the) wounds of the giant's 
neck are roaring,' etc. The giant is Vmir, and the blood which flows 
from his wounds is the sea. Cf. Va//>m/mis7)idl, str. 21 ; Giimnisnidl, 
.str. 40 ; Gi/Ifaginninf), ch. 48. 

Hiuistdurum., lit. 'the doors of the boat-house.' F. J(5nsson thinks 
that the allusion is probably to the barrow constructed for Egill's kin.s- 
men, perhaps because it stood beside the sea (on Digranes). Cf. str. 25, 
note to a nesi. Cf. also Egils Saga, ch. 78. 

4. Hiwharnar. Early editors, e.g. Dietrich and Pfeifter, kept the 
reailing of K ; Wisun emended to Idgir. V. Asmundarson (Reykjavik, 
1910) prints hra:harinn, agreeing with hilmir (cf. note below) ; Vig- 
fusson read hnebarinn hlimar and translates 'crushed.' F. J6nsson, at 
the suggestion of S. Bugge, in the 1894 (Halle) ed. gave Icebarnar 'felled 
by the storm.' In his Diet., however, he goes back to the reading of K 
and translates 'slaet til lig(0' but suggests that the word is probably a 
MS. error for hreggbarinn. He prints the latter in the 1913 (Copenhagen) 
edition, but omits the word from his Dictionary. 

hlinr marha. The form hh'nr a.s it appears in K is uncertain. Early 
editors, e.g. Dietrich and Pfeifi'er, print hlimar, which they translate 
'branches.' Wisen emends to lamSar, but omits the word from his 
vocabulary. F. .J6nsson in the 1894 (Halle) ed. gives limar and trans- 
lates ' boughs (of the forest), tree.' V. Asmundarson {op. cit. p. 245) 
gives hilmir, 'monarch.' In his Copenhagen ed. of 1913 F. J6nsson has 
altered his text to hlynir, ' maples.' Cf. also his Diet. s.v. hlinnar. Cf. 
further B. M. Phillpotts, The Elder Edda (Cambridge, 1920), p. 33. 

6. .4 froindgartSi, lit. 'in the courtyard or dwelling made of relatives,' 
i.e. the sea has made a breach in the defences oftbred by many kinsfolk. 
Ih.^, frcendr are thought of as forming a wall or barrier round Egill. 

7. Ran, the wife of iEgir, identified with the sea. Cf. Skdlddaparmdl, 
ch. 25 ; Volsungasaga, ch. 14. She and her husband are spirits of the 
sea. She was said to have a net in which she caught those who were 
drowned. Cf. Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 33 ; also prose at the beginning of 

ryskt. The meaning of the word is uncertain. Elsewhere it is only 
used reflexively, in the of to be ' struck, broken.' 
dstvinum, probably poet. pi. for sing. 

8. Sok...rcekak, lit. 'prosecute (my) suit.' 

olsmi'iS. The ohmitSr, 'beer-brewer,' is /Egir, the husband of Rdn, who 
was said to have brewed ale for the i.Esir. Cf. Hymiskvi&a, str. 1 — 3, 
43 ; Grimnismdl, str. 45 ; also the prose introduction to Lokasenna. 

a lira tima. I have followed F. J6nsson in the interpretation of this 
phrase which does not appear to occur elsewhere. Cf. Wisen, Carmina 
Norroena, p. 129. 

jEgis mani, i.e. ^Egir's bride, viz. Rtln (cf. str. 7 above, note), here 
]ierhaps used of the sea generally. 

10. minn.. Attar xkjoldr, lit. ' my shield of the race.' 

afllti, lit. 'bereft of life, dead.' Cf. M. 6lsen, Ark. f. Nord. Filol, 
Vol. XXXI (1918), p. 142. 

11. Randviti'r, lit. 'shield tree,' a kenning for 'warrior.' 

Hergantr is a name for Othin. Gautr is one of the names by which 
Othin calls himself in Grimnismdl, str. 54, cf. Hdkonarmdl, str. 1, n. F. 
Jonsson (who apparently takes hendr as ace, and toeki as 3 sing.), 
regards the name here as a kenning for 'warrior,' and suggests unz... 

198 NOTES 

tceki, 'until he came to a warrior's estate, became a full-grown doughty 
warrior.' He suggests however that the text may possibly be corrupt. 
Cf. Diet. s.v. Vigfusson and Powell translate 'till the hands of the 
Lord of Hosts gathered him,' i.e. 'until he had been slain in battle.' 

13. Ma hiarnur, unintelligible. F. Jonsson suggests mdna brud'ar, 
and translates ???. b. hyrvind as 'favourable breeze of the giantess,' 
which is supposed to be a periphrasis for ' soul,' ' mind.' Vigfusson 
and Powell emend m. b. to Arinbiarnar. Cf. note below s.v. broe&ra 

broe&ra leysi, lit. 'lack of (the) brothers.' Egill here seems to refer for 
the first time to the fact that he has lost two sons. This at least seems 
more natural than to suppose that he should be deploring the fact that 
he had no brothers of his own. His only brother Thorolfr had perished 
probably more than thirty years before. Vigfusson and Powell read 
broeSrahleyti, and translate Arinbiarnar (cf. note above) b. hi. as 
* Arinbiorn's foster-brotherhood.' 

hildr. It is not clear whether the reference is to 'battle' or to 
' litigation,' ' quarrel.' 

14. O5'ro?5'z, so F. Jonsson. Cf. Diet. s.v. Vfgfusson, however (cf. 
Diet, s.v.), understands 'counsel of wisdom,' or 'a council (?),' and 
translates the passage 'what other man shall stand by my side, as a 
friend, in the council ? ' i.e. ' where am I now to look for friendly help 
and comfort ? ' 

of her giaurum. This half line is obviously corrupt. Rask reads ef 
for of. Transcript 252 reads gor- for giaii-. 

varfleygr., so F. J6nsson (cf. Diet. s.v.). Vigfusson (Diet, s.v.) trans- 
lates ' faltering in flight.' 

15. Mj6k,..selr. This strophe is obscure throughout. Elgjar galga, 
inexplicable according to F. J6nsson (cf. Diet. s.v.). Asmundarson 
suggested that it might mean 'country,' i.e. Iceland {Egils ISaga, ed. 
Reykjavik, 1910, p. 306). Wisen also understood the word to refer to 
Iceland (cf. Carmina jVon-a;na, Lund, 1886, Vol. ii, p. 54, s.v. elgr). For 
a different interpretation cf. Vigfusson, Diet. s.v. 

niflg6(Sr,..selr. The meaning is uncertain. For a discussion of the 
word cf. F. Jdnsson, Diet. s.v. niflgdSr. Cf. also Valdimar Asmundarson, 
loG. cit. 

ni^ja steypir., etc. It is difiicult to believe that this can mean that 
only one who is a disgrace to his relatives will consent to receive 
wergild for his brother ; the meaning of steypir itself, however, is quite 

17. Ne pann niS. The text can hardly be correct since the MS. 
reading does not fulfil the alliteration. The adopted son is spoken of 
not in relation to the poet, but to the son whom he has lost. 

ni(, lit. (as) a relative (him) who is a man born to another. 

18. Byskips. F. Jonsson emends to byskei&s, ' the path of the bee,' 
i.e. 'air' or 'sky.' Dietrich, followed by Pfeiffer and Wisen, understood 
byskip as ' ship of the bee, or bees,' to which they attribute the same 
meaning. Valdimar Asmundarson translates ' air,' ' air-dwelling,' 
'heaven.' But is it not possible that the word is identical with the 
modern 'beeskip,' i.e. hive (used, especially in dialects, of the old- 
fashioned domed straw hives), the reference being in all probability to 
the family barrow in which Bo'Svarr was laid ? 

kynnis. The reference is no doubt to the members of the family who 
have died previously. 

NOTES 199 

19. /frosta hilmir, i.e. ^Egir ; cf. str. S, note. Hrosti, the malt 
brow ill tlie brewei-'s vat from which the plants have been extracted. 
Wisi''!i emended hilmir to vordr, F. J6nsson to hofundr ; so 
V. Asniundarson, loc. cit. For various suggestions by early editors 
see Wison, Canniiut Norroena (Lund, 1886), Vol. i, p. 130. 

(/ liendi stetidr. V. Asmundarson compares the idioms liggja a //alsi, 
standa a sporiS'i. 

{ drdar </nmu, obscure. Wiscin emended to 6ro gr. and translated 
'noctcm inquietam.' F. Jdnsson omits from his Diet. 

rf/nii^ (F. Jonsson ri/nnis), lit. 'knowledge of runes.' r. reuY, 'the 
head' (F. J6ns.son, Diet. s.v.). Vfgfusson translated ' scrutiny,' ' con- 
templation,' and r. reid', 'the breast' (cf. Diet. s.v. ryni). 

20. Sun minn, i.e. Gunnarr, who appears to have died of sickness. 
Cf p. 132 above. Sottar brimi, lit. 'fire of sickness.' 

viinudi. The lis. has ndviceli which, according to B. M. Olsen, would 
mean (indulging in) 'censuring speech.' The alliteration requires 
vdnuvli (i.e. the censure of other people), as suggested by Olsen in Arkiv 
f. nord. FiloL, Vol. xix, p. 133. 

21. Upp...i Goiy/ieim. Cf. Introduction, p. 133 above. 

O'auta spjalli, i.e. Othin, lit. 'friend of the Gautar.' Spjalli is one 
who converses as a confidential friend. Cf. Hdkonarmdl, str. 1, note s.v. 

asi; lit. 'iish-tree.' 

22. Geira dn'Min^ i.e. Othin, who is generally represented as armed 
with a spear. Cf. Hdvamdl, str. 138 ; Ynglingasaga, eh. 9, etc. For 
further references, cf Chadwick, The Cult 'of Othin (Cambridge, 1899), 

p. 6 ft: 

vi/iut, a ciTT. Afy. F. Jonsson emends to vimim. 

vagna r/aii, i.e. Othin. According to F. Jonsson the phrase means lit. 
' friend of cars,' riini being identical in meaning with spjalli (str. 21 above). 

Sigrhofundr. Cf the name Sigtyr commonly applied to Othin, e.g. in 
AtlakviSa en Groenlenzka., str. 32 ; cf also Ynglingasaga., ch. 6 ; the 
Saga of Haakon the Good {Heimskringla), ch. 14, etc. 

23. BroSwrVilis, i.e.Oth.\n. Cf. Lokaserma, str. 2Q; G //If aginning, ch. 6. 
Mims vinr, i.e. Othin. Cf Voluspd, str. 46 ; Sigrclrifumdl, str. 14 ; 

Ynglingasaga, ch. 4, etc. ; Hdttatal, in str. 3. 

es ei betra telk. F. Jdnsson translates 'als das bessere (als einen 
Segen).' But is a comparison necessarily implied ? 

24. Ulfs um bdgi, i.e. Othin, who is to fight with Fenrisulfr, Loki's 
sou, at Ragnarjsk. Cf. Voluspd, str. 53 ; Vafpnipnismdl, str. 53 ; 
Gylfagimiing, ch. 34 ; Hdttatal, str. 3. 

i''londum, lit. 'By which I have made openly discovered foes 
from intriguing (foes) ' ; or perhaps veliindum may be taken substauti- 
vally, in which case the meaning would be 'I have made intriguers 
into openly known foes.' 

25. Troggja bdga, i.e. Fenrisulfr. Cf. str. 23 above, note. Tveggi is 
Othin. Qi.'Viiliispd, str. 63. Cf also F. J6ns.son, Diet. s.v. Tveggi. 

njiirvanift. editors (e.g. Wisen, F. J6nsson, V. Asmundarson) 
take this to mean ' full sister.' Nift can refer to any female relative. 
Vigfusson compares nipt nara, ' Hel,' Hofu'Slausn, str. 10 ; and nift 
Nera (a Norn), HelgaKvitfa Hundingsbana, i, str. 4. The sister of 
Fenrisulfr is Hel. Cf. Voluspd, str. 43, 51 ; Gylfaginning, ch. 34. 

o nesi. The reference is presumably to the headland (Digranes) on 
which the family barrow stood. Cf str. 3 above, note s.v. naustdurxim. 

200 NOTES 


1. Ar kvd?f7i, etc. Some editors (e.g. Vfgfusson and Powell, Heusler 
etc.) believe that this strophe is part of a separate catalogue poem 
Ci'. Heusler, Eddica Minora^ p. Ixxxviii f. Heiuzel, however, appears to 
regard it as forming the introduction to our poem. Cf. ' Ueber die 
Hervararsaga,' p. 500. 

Humla. For the names Humli and Hlo^r we may cf. Humhlus and 
Lotherus, the sons of Dan, the first king of the Danes ; cf. Saxo, Book 
I, p. 16. Cf. also p. 143 f above. For a discussion of the various sugges- 
tions which have been made regarding the former name cf. Heinzel, 
' Ueber die Hervararsaga,' pp. 461 ft'., 490 fF. Cf. also V. Jagic, 'Slavisches 
in nordischen Sagen,' Archiv filr Slavische Philologie, 1888, p. 307. 

Oizur. Gizurr Grytingali^i is the name of one of Angantyr's vassals 
mentioned below in the prose following str. 12. Cf. note s.v. He is 
perhaps the person referred to here. It was observed by Rafn 
{Antiquites russes, Copenhagen, 1850, Vol. i, p. 113), that he plays 
the same pai-t as Eric in the version of the story given by Saxo, Book 
V, pp. 190 f., 194 f. Cf. also Heinzel, 'Ueber die Hervararsaga,' p. 496 f. 

Gautum (nom. Gautar), the inhabitants of southern Sweden. Cf. 
Hdkonarvidl, str. 1, note s.v. Gautatyr. 

Anganty. I have discussed elsewhere {Stories and Ballads of the 
Far Past, Cambridge, 1921, p. 82) the confusion with regard to 
Angantyr in the Saga of Hervor and Hei^rek. Cf. further, Heinzel, 
op. cit., p. 494 ft". 

Valdar. A Valdarr, ruler of the Danes, is mentioned also in Gu^rii- 
narkvii5a II, str. 20, and in the Saga of Hervor and Hei&rekr, ch. 16, 
but no story is known of him. The name is of course identical with 
A.S. Waldhere. The hero of the latter story is associated with France, 
however, never with the Danes. Cf. for further references, Heinzel, 
op. cit., p. 500. 

Volum Kiar. Valar is the general term used for Celtic peoj)les 
(including the Romans) in all Teutonic languages. In Kiarr it is 
natural to see Caesar (cf. Widsith, 1. 76) ; but the loss of s requires 
explanation, and the name has given rise to some discussion. Cf. 
Bugge, ArHv, xxvi, p. 58 f. ; Heusler, Eddica Minora, p. lxxxix ; 
Heinzel, op. cit., p. 501 ft". The form would seem to have come through 
an intermediate language. Heusler points out that the metre requires 
some such form as Caesar, and Heinzel regards the word as identical in 
origin with the Sisar in Gautreks Saga, ch. 4 (in a verse), 'a form 
borrowed through Russian.' He further compares this form with the 
titles cjesari and cisari preserved by Russian princes as late as the 
twelfth century. F'or further references cf. AtlakviSa, str. 7 ; Volun- 
darkvid'a, prose at beginning and str. 16 ; Flateyjarbdk, Vol. I, p. 25 ; 
Skdldskapanndl, ch. 64. 

Alrek. For a detailed discussion of the variant readings and sug- 
gested identifications cf. Heinzel, op. cit., pp. 507 — 512. 

2. Hlod'r. Cf. Introduction, p. 143 f. above. 

par...i Hunalandi, according to Heinzel an unfamiliar idiom in 
Norse poetry (cf. p. 142 above). It occurs however in prose, e.g. in the 
Jomsv'ikinga Saga, ch. 6 {Forn-Manna Sogw, Vol. XI, p. 19), />ar i 
Danmm'k. The variations in the ms. readings here (p. 148, footnote 6) 
should not be overlooked. 

i Hunalandi. Here the reference is obviously to the land occupied 
by the Huns at the time — which we must no doubt place somewhere 

NOTES 201 

in the south of Russia. Owing to the extensive conquests subsequently 
made by the Huns, the term Ili'uialand came to be used in poetry for 
a vast undefined area, including Germany, Poland, etc. — in fact almost 
equivalent to Central Europe. It is no doubt in this latter sense that 
we should understiind Hunlcnzkr in Hrafnsmdl, str. 8, unless malmr 
Htinlenzkr is simply a kenning for gold. 

sa,Ti oh mety sverilij. The Saga explains : ' There was an old .saying at 
that time that a man was "born with weapons or horses." And the 
explanation is that it referred to the weapons which were being forged 
at the time when the man was born; also to any sheep... and horses 
that were born about the same time. These were all given to high-born 
men as an honour to them.' 

hringreiffyum. Bugge translates 'richly decorated with rings,' and 
compares Atlai-vi&a, str. 42. F. J6nsson tran.slates 'supplied with a 
ring,' but suggests that the word may have arisen from a misunder- 
standing of hringgreypr, 'surrounded by a ring or border.' Cf. arin 
greypo, Atlakvi(ya, str. 1 and Sijmons {Die Lieder der Edda, Halle, 
1906, p. 424, note). 

d...helgu, so Vigfusson, F. Jonsson etc. Bugge (cf. Hervarar Saga, 
p. 362) however regards mork as a vague term for a district with 
natural boundaries ('not a forest'), and m. h. as the 'place where the 
king's residence together with the chief temple was situated.' 

3. Hei&reh^s) — (nom. sing. Heid'rekr), the chief character in the Saga 
of Hervbr aiid HeitSrok — the son of Hofimdr, and father of Angantyr 
and HlbSr. The same name occurs in the prose at the beginning of 

a Arheima. Arheimar is unidentified. Cf. p. 144 above. Cf. also 
Heinzel, op. cit., p. 482 f. 

4. Segg...uti, etc. With the arrival of HloSr at Arheimar we may 
cf. Atla'kvitya, str. 1 fi'. ; Beowulf, 11. 331—370. 

siiyfurlaa seems somewhat pointless. Can it be an unobservant 
scribe's emendation of sifyforull 1 

5. Be'iyskammi, a ott. Xey. Bugge emends to hotSskdi, and translates 
' warlike.' Cf. herskur, vigskdr. 

6. Rymr vas i ranni. Cf. HamSismdl, str. 18, 24; Atlakvitia, str. 
41. With this scene we may perhaps compare Jordanes, ch. xxxvi. 

risu...g6i^um, i.e. 'with the nobly born,' viz. Angantyr. Bugge com- 
pares Hara^'ismdl, str. 16, 21. 

7. Al ok af oddi, etc. For the highly artificial diction of this and the 
following strophe, cf. Atlakvity-A, str. 5 ; HelgakvitSa Hundingsbana ir, 
str. 35, and see p. 142. Vigfusson and Powell think that the passage 
reads like a legal formula. This strophe (perhaps str. 8 also) employs 
poet. sing, for pi. 

einum. So F. Jdnsson ; Bugge suggests ' unique.' 

8. Hris }>at et mtera. The allusions throughout this .strophe are 
obscure. The word hris is generally used of a smaller thing — thicket, 
brushwood. It is applied however to 'MyrkviSr' in Atlakviffa, str. 5, 
also — here again in connection with the phrase staiyi Danpar. Myrkvityr 
occurs elsewhere in the Edda, e.g. Helgakviya Hundingsbana, i, str. 53 ; 
Lokasenna, str. 42 (where a mythical forest is referred to). Cf. further 
Heinzel, op. cit., p. 481 f. 

grOf f>d eaa helgu, etc. Olri'k {Danmarks Heltedigtning, Vol. ii, Copen- 
hagen, 1910, p. 236) thinks that the holy grave is the mound in which, 
according to Danish tradition. King Dan was buried, and that the 

202 NOTES 

stone was the Dancerifgh on the top of which, according to the Chronicle 
of Leire (cf. p. 203), he had been crowned king. Cf. also Saxo, Book i, 
p. 16. In the Rigs]3ula, str. 49, 'Dan' is mentioned together with 
' Danpr,' which is there clearly regarded as a personal name ; see below. 
Cf. also Munch, Norske Folks Hist., p. 248, note ; S. Bugge, Hervarar 
Saga ok HeitSreks, p. 362. For other suggestions cf. Heinzel, op. cit., 
p. 478 f. Heinzel, however, who places Rei'Sgotaland, the scene of the 
poem, in southern Russia, takes the phrase in connection with stein 
pann enn fagra, and regards both as referring to the famous Cell of 
Kiev, which St Antonius hewed out with his own hand and where 
the Byzantine Church was built 1073-1089. The griif would then be 
either the grave of Antonius himself, or the famous rock tomb of 
Askold who was slain by Oleg in 882. It seems to me difficult to 
believe that this is the place referred to, but I cannot suggest any 
explanation of either griif or stein. 

Gotpjobu. This name occurs in the fragmentary Gothic Calendar, 
(October 23), which celebrates 'the many martyrs among the Gothic 
people' {ana Gutpiudai). 

d stod'mn Banpar. Cf. Atlakvid'a, str. 5 (sta&i Banpar) ; Rigspula. 
str. 49 {Danpr). Cf. also Bugge's note in his edition of the Edda, 
p. 149 f. ; Heinzel, op. cit., p. 472 fF. ; V. Jagic, Arch, filr Slav. Philol. 
Vol. XI, p. 305 f. ; etc. The Rigspida gives Danpr as a personal name, 
and the Atlakvi&a also must have understood it in the same sense ; but 
there can be little doubt that this expression originally m.eant ' on the 
shores of the Dniepr.' Cf. Gothic ana stapa (d. sg.), A.S. steep. 
Danaper was the Gothic name for the Dniepr; cf. Jordanes, eh. 5. 
Heinzel (p. 479) thinks that the locality here referred to is Kiev, on 
the Dniepr (see above). 

9. Kaldrgeirr. Cf. Beowulf, 11. 3021, 3022. 

Tyrfing{r). The famous sword forged by the dwarfs for King Svafr- 
lami, and the heirloom of his family. Cf. the Saga of Hervor and 
HeitSrek, ch. 2. The history of the swoi'd forms the connecting thread 
of the saga. It has been suggested that the name is derived from 
iyrfj, 'resinous fir-tree,' owing to its flaming like resinous fir-wood. 
F. J6nsson (Diet, s.;;.), less probably, regards it as connected with 'turf 
because it lay so long in the earth, or as equivalent to 'earth found.' 
For swords called by names ending in -ing cf. Hrunting in Beowulf., 
1. 1457; Natgling, ib. 1. 2680; Mimming, Waldhere, 1. 3, etc. etc. The 
custom of calling swords by personal names is found in Celtic as well 
as Teutonic records. Cf. the sword Hipickmr 'worth seventy cows' 
mentioned as being given by Guengarth to one Conmogoy in the 
record of a donation quoted by Seebohm, The Tribal System in Wales 
(London, 1904), p. 222. 

10. Skalka. Cf. p. 143 above. Cf. also Bugge, Hervarar Saga, p. 363. 
Heinzel's suggestion quoted on p. 143 can hardly be correct ; for the Old 
Irish loan-word scoloca (Gael, sgalag), 'a servant,' shows that skalkr 
must have had this meaning in Norse during the Viking Age. 

^ 11. A^r a. I have followed Bugge's emendation with some doubt. 
AiSr dtti would be slightly nearer the MS. readings. 

12. Mun ek urn pik, etc. Cf. Waltharius, 11. 405—407 : 
' Hunc ego mox auro vestirem sepe recocto, 
Et tellure quidem stantem hinc inde onerarem, 
Atque viam penitus clausissem vivo talentis.' 
According to the Frankish Chronicle Theodoric imposes on the 
Visigoths as a penalty for having deceived the Franks 'ut veniret 

NOTES 203 

logatarius Fraiiconmi aedens super equuiu, contuni erectum tciicn.s in 
niiinum, ante aulatn palatii Alarici et tiim din Alaricus et Gotthi super 
euin solidos jactarent, quosque legatuni et cquuni et cacurnine {read 
cacunicn) conti cum solidis cooperirent.' Cf. J. Clrimni, ReclUsalter- 
thiimer (Oottingen, 1828), p. 672. Cf. also Skulddapartndl, ch. 39; 
Herodotus, Book vi, cap. 125 ; the Laws of Howel ( Welsh Medieval 
Law, ed. A. W. Wade-Evans, pp. 226, 227): 'Whoever shall kill a cat 
which guanis a barn of a king or shall take it stealthily, its head is 
to be held downwards on a clean level floor, and its tail is to bo held 
upwards ; and after that wheat is to be poured about it until the tip 
of its tiiil be hidden [and that is its worth].' Perhaps a relic of a 
similar idea is to be found in such criteria of measurement as that on 
p. 147, lb. 

pHiijung GotJyji'jtSar. According to Langobardic Law a legitimate 
son inhei'ited two thirds of his father's estate, a natural son one third. 
Cf. J. Grimm, Rec/Usalte7't/iUmer, p. 476. 

Gizurr Gr;jtingali(Si. A peo[)le called by what appear to be variants 
of this name is sometimes mentioned by ancient writers in connection 
with the Ostrogoths, with whom many scholars believe them to be 
identical. Trebellius Pollio refers to the Trutungi in Chmdius 6 (i.e. 
probably Grut{li)ungi\ cf. Claudii Salmasii In Trehellmm Pollionern 
JVotae, 44), while in Ammianus Marcellinus, xxxi, cap. 3. 1, they 
appe;ir (more correctly) as Greuthungi's), and in Claudian, In Eu- 
iropium. Book li, 1. 153 as Gruthungi{s). The name also appears in the 
Heimsl-ringht in the form Grfitingi\ where it is used as the name of 
a king (in the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired, ch. 5) and as the name 
of a district on the Trondhjem Fjord (cf. the Saga of Haakon the Good, 
ch. 18, 19; Saga of Olaf fryggmson, ch. 74). 

fdstri HeitSreks. Cf. the Saga of Hervor and Hei&rekr, ch. 6. 

13. J^i/jar...pyjar. Ci. SiguriSarkvit^a en skamma,&tr.\l ; Asmundar 
Saga Kappabana, ch. 9 (in a strophe). 

a havgi. Cf. 'The Chronicle of Leire,' Langebek, Script. Rev. 
Daiiicarum, i, p. 224 (cf. ib., p. 223, footnote). After the victory over 
the Germans the Danes 'carried him [Dan] to the stone which is 
called Dancert/gh and placed him on the top of it, and gave him the 
title of King.' The most interesting instance of the practice of sitting 
on a mound occurs in the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired {Heimskringla), 
ch. 8, where it is definitely associated with kingship. We may cf. 
further Thrymskoii^a, str. 5 ; Vohcspd, str. 42. Further instances occur 
in Skirnismdl, str. 11 and the preceding prose; the Saga of Olaf 
Tryggvason {Forn-Manna Sogur, Vol. II, p. 59 etc.). In the Mabinogion 
(transl. Lady Guest, London, 1904), p. 10, we are told that he who 
seated him.self on a certain mound could not leave it 'without either 
receiving wounds or blows, or else seeing a wonder.' Cf. Helgakvi^a 
Hjorvar(issonar, the prose preceding str. 6. See also Bugge, Hervarar 
Saga ok Heiiyreks, p. 363; Oln'k, 'At sidde pS, hiij' in Danske Studier, 
1909, p. 1 ff. ; B. S. Phillpotts, The Elder Edda, p. 189. 

o<)li/igr, i.e., according to Bugge, Angantyr, as ojjposed to hornungr. 

14. Drekka ok dcema. Cf. Rigspida, str. 31 ; Siguri^arkvida, str. 2. 
Cf. also Bugge, Hervarar Saga, p. 364. 

dyrar veigar. Cf. HyndliiljotS, str. 51 ; HelgakviiSa Hundingsbana il, 
str. 45. 

djarjliga, so iiss. The text cannot be correct since alliteration is 
wanting. According to Bugge djarfliga is not used in early poetry of 
this kind. 

204 NOTES 

Jram bera. Cf. Beo^inolf, 1. 291. 

15. Rammlega. Here again alliteration is wanting in all the MSS. 
For the phrase hildi heyja cf. HelgakvitSa Hundingsbana i, str. 54, 
Beowulf, 1. 425 f. etc. Bugge emends to randir knyja (from Half's Saga., 
ch. 15). 

tolfvetra. I have followed Bugge in taking this as gen. pi. of a 
compound adj., lit. 'with a host of (men) twelve years old (and 

16. Rid'a...bera, lit. 'ride and bring my shield to,' i.e. 'accompany,' 
* sujaport.' Bugge suggests that a number of words have been omitted 
after bera. 

Gota pjo^um. The poem had no doubt originally the earlier form 
Gotna (pjobum) which is generally used in the Edda. Cf. Grimnismdl, 
str. 2 ; Gripesspd, str. 35 ; A tlakvic^a, str. 20 ; Gu^nlnarhvUt, str. 2 ; 
Ham&ismdl, str. 3, 22, 30. Cf A.S. Gotena, Widsith, 11. 89, 109 etc. 

17. Svi&in. Is a conflagration implied, or does svidinn refer to the 
enemy's camp fires? Cf. Saxo, Book v, p. 194. 

Myrkvi^ar heiSr. Cf str. 8, note s.v. Myrkvit5r. For the form hei&r, 
having the sense of 'forest,' cf. Welsh coed ; possibly also the Silva 
CcEsia of Tacitus, Annals, i, 50. For the meaning cf. A.S. fyrgen — with 
Go. fairguni; and A.S. weald with Northern mod. Engl. dial, wold; 
(cf O.N. vollr — where the meaning is different again). 

18. Yd'ra pegna. y^ra, i.e. 'your and her': cf pina, 1. 2 above. 

19. Bnid'ar gangi. According to Vi'gfusson (Diet., s.v.) this ex- 
pression was used in Christian times for the bridal procession of 
women, first to and from the church, then from the bride's room to 
the stofa, where the wedding feast was held. Cf. Landstad, Norske 
Folkeviser (Christiania, 1853), Vol. iii, p. 406, str. 12 and footnote 2; 
Vol. V, p. 854, str. 3 and footnote 2. Cf also Bugge, Hercarar Saga, 
p. 365 f. 

21. pann. Bugge emends to mann. Possibly the poem originally had 
pann mann; but I do not think that it is practicable to restore the 
original words. 

22. Eyris. In view of the following line it is just possible that the 
word eyrir may here preserve its original meaning 'gold coin' rather 
than 'ounce' (of silver). 

skjallanda. Vi'gfusson and Powell suggest the emendation to skillinga. 
Bugge, however, understands by skjal. skarfr a piece of gold of sufficient 
weight to ring when thrown into a shield or bowl. Skarfr means a 
piece ' cut.' Cf. Aasen, Norsk Ordbog, s.v. scarv, m. 2 ; Friibzner, Oldn. 
Ordbog, s.v. skjallr. We may cf. the tribute mentioned by Saxo (Book 
viii, p. 359) as paid by the Frisians to the Danes. For further references 
cf. Bugge, op. cit., p. 366. 

24. A( Dylgju, etc. The places mentioned in this strophe are un- 
identified. Cf. p. 146 above, cf also Heinzel, op. cit., p. 481 ft". 

a DunheiM. Heinzel suggests {op. cit., p. 484) that this may mean 
the basin of the Danube. The Danube is referred to as Dihid in Heilagra 
Manna Sogur, i, p. 303. It is scarcely likely, however, that this region 
should be mentioned here — especially in a place-name derived from 
the Slavonic form of the river. 

d...Josswrfj6llum, lit. 'on all the mountains of Jossurr.' Cf. however 
str. 26. For the variant forms cf. Heinzel, p. 484 f. 

25. Gnaefar...gunnfani. Cf HdrbartSsljdtS, str. 40. 

NOTES 205 

26. Hr(rse...hrorju. The MS. readings are clo^irly corrupt, though the 
general sense of the passivge need not be doubted. Bugge reads hrce se 
j/d'r and emends hvorjii to hverri. At hd ' to battle,' occurs again in one 
of Sighvatr's [wenis quoted in St Ola/'s Saga {ll<'imsk-riiu]lu), ch. 155. 
The noni. and gender of the word arc unknown, unless it be identiticd 
(;us by Vfgfus.son, Diet., s.v. Ill) with kd f., 'a hide,' etc. I am inclined 
to think that the original reiiding may have been hnv hrjosi. ytfur at hd 
hverjn; of. the rciidings of MS. u, quoted on p. 158 above, note 11. Cf. 
Beot(ndt\ H. 277 {hrafi/l), 2488, and for the general sense Beowulf, 
1. 1042; Ruin, 1. 18. 

Idti svd..Jlein fljuga. The dedication of an enemy's army to Othin 
before a battle appears to have been a common practice. Cf. Voluspd, 
str. 24 ; Styrhjaniar }>dttr, ch. 2 ; Eyrhyggja Saga, ch. 44, etc. 

27. Arheimum. Cf. str. 3, note. 

28. miHt es, so mss. Bugge compares HelgakvitSa Hundingshana, I, 
str. 52 and writes 

mikit er 
mengi l^eira. 

29. Halir fjortaldir. The prose passage given on p. 154 above has 
fernir fjdrir tigir, ' four times forty men,' whence no doubt Rafn 
(Antiqui'te's riisses. Vol. I, p. 203) inserted XL. before fjortaldir here, 
though the result is to destroy the metrical form of the passage. There 
is, however, a curious resemblance between the figures which occur in 
this strophe and those given for the fleet of the Huns in Saxo, Book v, 
p. 191, p. 155 in Holder's ed. (Cf. Bugge, Hervarar Saga ok HeitSreks 
in Sorri^ne Skrifter, 286.) Saxo's words are far from clear — perhaps 
owing to a misunderstanding of his original — but they seem to imply 
that the numbers were in some way quadrupled. It is possible there- 
fore that the author of the Saga misunderstood the numbers given in 
the poem. 

30. Basmir. The word is not found in the mss., and the meaning is 
uncertain. B\igge adopts from Verelius, and {Herv. Sag., p. 367) suggests 
the translation 'rings.' He suggested further that the word may be 
connected with hinda. Vfgfusson (Diet., s.v.) connects it with Norweg. 
basma, twenty threads of the warp (cf. Aaseu, JVorsk Ordbog, Christiania, 
1873, S.V.), and suggests 'loom' as a possible meaning ; but Bugge holds 
that this word is of later and foreign origin. F. J6nssou (Diet, s.v.), 
translates 'costly treasure,' and refers to Bugge's note. In Rigs/>nla, 
str. 39 another an. X«y. masmir occurs in a very similar context, but a 
difierent alliteration is required there. 

31. Dumr Noma. Cf. Fdfnismdl, str. 11, 12. The norns were repre- 
sented in Norse mythology as women with the power of shaping human 
destiny. Cf. Reginsmdl, str. 2 ; HelgakvitSa Hundingsbaua I, str. 2 ; 
Oylfaginning, ch. 15, 16; Saxo Grammaticus, Daa. Hist. Book vi, 
p. 223. The conception is similar in many respects to that of the 
Greek Moirai. 


The listi of donations made by Bishop Leofric to the ecclesiastical 
library at Exeter is as follows : 

Her swutelaj) on {jissere Cristes bee hwset Leofric B h.sei]> gedon innto 
sancte Petres minstre on Exanceastre j^ser his bisceop-stol is. Daet is 
>8et he hsefj? geinuod jjeet ser geutod J^ter j^urh Godes fultum and f>urh 
his foresprsece 7 J>iu"h his gsersuma. Daet is serost ]>8et land set Culm- 
stoke and jjeet land set Brancescumbe and set Sealtcumbe 7 ]>set land set 
sancte Maria circean and fiset laud set Stofordtune and set Sweartan 
wille and j^set land set Morceshille and SidefuUan hiwisc 7 j^set land set 
Brihtricestane (and j^set land set Toppeshame 'Seah ^e Harold hit mid 
unlage utnam'-^) 7 jjset land set Stoce 7 {jset land set Sydebirig 7 ))set land 
set Niwantmie 7 tet NorStune (7 J^set lande set Clift ]>e wid hsefde^). 

©onne ys J^is se eaca on landum )ja3t he hffifS of his agenum J>3et 
mynster mid gegodod for his hlaforda sawlum and for his agenre J>am 
Godes }>eowum to bigleafan jje for heora sawlum J^ingian sceolan, )jset is 
serost Jjset laud set Bemtune, 7 set Esttune 7 set Ceommenige 7 Jjset land 
set Doflisc 7 a^t Holacumbe 7 set Sudwuda, 7 he ne funde j?a he to j^am 
mynstre feng nan mare landes '5e Sider ynn gejjylde wsere 'Sonne twa 
hida landes set Ide, and ^seron uses orfcynnes nan mare buton vi* 

Donne ys }>is seo oncnawennis )>e he hsef}) God mid gecnawen 7 sanctum 
Petrum into \>a,m. halgan mynstre on circlicum madmum, J>set is, })8et he 
hsef J> )jider ynn gedon 11 b roda 7 11 mycele gebonede roda l;)utan of^rum 
litlum silfrenum swur rodum 7 11 mycele Cristes bee gebonede 7 iii 
gebonede serin 7 i geboned altare 7 v silfrene caliceas 7 iv corjjorales 
7 I silfren pipe 7 v fulle msessereaf 7 11 dalmatica 7 iii pistel roccas 
7 IV subdiacones handlin 7 iii cantercseppa 7 iii canter stafas 7 v 
psellene weofod sceatas 7 vii ofer^ brsedelsas 7 11 tseppedu 7 iii bera 
scin 7 VII setl hrsegel 7 iii ricg-hrsegel 7 11 wahraeft 7 vi msesene sceala 
7 II gebonede hnseppas 7 iv hornas 7 11 mycele gebonede candelsticcan 
7 VI Isessan candelsticcan gebonede, 7 i silfren stor cylle mid silfrenum 

1 The list here given is based on that which is bound in the covers 
of the Exeter Book (cf. p. xii above). It appears that several copies of 
this list have been made at different periods for important libraries. A 
paper co)\y (C), no doubt made in the sixteenth century in a hand which 
has carefully copied that of the eleventh century list, is to be founl in 
MS. 101 (f. 62) of the library given by Archbishop Parker to Corpus Christi 
College, Cambridge. Further copies are MS. Auct. D. ii, 16, fol. la — 2b, 
in the Bodleian, Oxford, and MS. Harl. 258, fol. 125 b in the British 
Museum. The Ust was first printed by Dugdale in Monasticon Anglicanum 
(London, 1655, cf. ed. of 1846, Vol. 11, p. 527) and was reprinted again by 
J. M. Kemble in Codex Diplomaticits aevi Saxonici (London, 1839 — 1848), 
Vol. IV, pp. 274—276 (No. 940). Extracts have also been published by 
Wanley in Hickes's Thesaurus (London, 1705), Vol. 11, pp. 80, 279 f. ; by 
Conybeare in Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry (London, 1826), p. 199 f. ; 
F. E. Warren in The Leofric Missal (Oxford, 1883), p. xxi; T. Wright in 
Biographia Britannica Literaria, Anglo-Saxon Period (London, 1842 — 1846), 
pp. 38, 39 ; etc. 

^ and...ntnam interlinear gloss added later. 

* 7... /kedde interlinear gloss added later. * vii Bodl. ^o/Bodl. 


storsticcan' 7 viii lioflas 7 11 gul>faiia 7 i more 7 vi niid- roca 7 i firdwaju 
7 I cyste; 7 |nor luenMi xv Initon vu upp-haii^ouo holla 7 mi jjajr aynd 
XIV'' upp-haiigoiie 7 xu haiul-boUa 7 II fuUo iiuosse boo 7 i coUectanoum 
7 II jiistel boc 7 II fullo saiig-boc 7 i nilit-sang 7 i Ad to levavi 7 
I Tropore^ 7 so f)riddan Saltere swa man siugS ou Rome 7 li Ymiicras 
7 I doorwyrSe Blotsing-boc 7 ill ojn*e 7 i XpoS-boc 7 II Sumer- 
ra?diiig-bec, 7 I winter-noding-boc 7 Regiila C'anoniconim 7 Martiro- 
logium 7 I Canon on Luedem^ 7 i Scrift-boc on Engliac 7 i full Spel-boc 
wintres 7 sumeres 7 Booties boc on 7 / mycel Englifc boc be 
ge/iin/lcum J^tncfum on Leo^wisan gcivorht 7 he no fiuide on |)am mynstre 
jja be to feng Boca na ma butan ane Capitulario 7 I foroaldodne Niht- 
saug 7 I Pistol-boc 7 11 forealdode Raiding-bec swi|)e wake 7 i wac Ma)s- 
reaf. 7 j^us fela Leden boca he beget innto [jam mynstre: Liber Pasto- 
ralis 7 Liber Dialogorum 7 libri iv Prophetarum 7 liber Boetii de Con- 
solatione 7 Isagogo Porphirii 7 i Passionalis 7 liber Prosperi 7 liber 
Prudentii Psicomachio 7 liber Prudentii ymnorum 7 liber Prudentii de 
Martyribus 7 liber Ezechielis Prophetae 7 Cantica Canticoriim 7 liber 
Isaie Prophota^ on sundron 7 liber Isidori Ethimologiarum 7 Passiones 
Apiorum 7 Kxpositio Beda3 super Evangelium Lucio 7 Expositio Bode 
super Apotalipsin 7 expositio Bede sui)er vii Epistolas Canonicas 7 liber 
Isidori de novo 7 veteri Testamento 7 liber Isidori de miraculis XpT 7 
liber Oresii 7 liber Machabeorum 7 liber Persii 7 Sedulies boc 7 liber 
Aratoris 7 Diadema Mouachorum 7 Glosa) Statii 7 liber Officialis 

7 ofer his dseg he ann his capellum Cider binnan foi^ mid him silfum 
on eallum t?am Singum jje he silf dide mid Godes ))eninge on Ymi gorad 
))aet }>a (Todos {^eowas \ic j^er binnan beoj? aefre his sawle gemunou mid 
heora gebedum and micsso-sangum to Criste and to sancte Petre and to 
eallum |)am halgura jje }>8et halige minster is fore gehalgod, }>ait his sawle 
beo Gode )>e anfengre. 7 so -5e ISas gyfu 7 f>isne unnan wille Godo 7 
sancte Petre a3tbredan si him heofena rice aetbroden and si he ecelice 
geniJ>erod into helle wite. 

^ sticcan Bodl. . - unci Corp. •* xiii Bodl. 

* -J II Salteras 7 se />r. etc. Bodl. ^ leden Bodl. 





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