St Olaf Haroldsson 10141030

The son of Harold, King of Grenland or Grand, a county in South Norway, whence he was surnamed Grenzki, and of Asta daughter oi Gudbrand, a Norwegian noble. Harold met with a tragical death on a journey to Sweden, leaving Asta a widow, pregnant with the boy who soon was to be St. Olave. Asta, many years later, married Sigrod the Farmer-King of Ringerik, and by him became the mother of another future king, Harold Hardrede.

We have the testimony of the poets, that as early as twelve years old, the boy Olaf, under the charge of his foster-father Rani, was put aboard a Wicking fleet, under his nominal leadership, and that henceforth he led the life of a sea-king. Thirteen battles of his are mentioned. The Baltic coast, Denmark, Jutland, Holland, England, France were each in turn visited by his pirate squadron; from the Wristula to Poitou he won his way by the sword.

But at last there came an opportunity for the young buccaneer to win a richer prize than the gold of Gaul or the silver of England. In Normandy, where he seems to have had friendly relations with the great Duke, Olaf meets with jEthelred, and heard of the death of Sweyn, with whom he had perhaps served. The English, tired of foreign rulers, offer to take their King again on the promise of good rule. It was Olafs fleet that in Lent, 1014, bore the exile back to his realm. And now he sees that there is an opening before him. Cnut had his hands full for years to make good his hold upon the land his father had not been able totally to subdue. The North was emptied of troops, who flocking to Cnut's call, or eager for the plunder of the richest land they knew of, had followed Earl Eric, or joined Thorkettle in England.

In the late summer, 1014, Olaf crossing the sea in two ships of burden, overtook the young Earl Hakon unawares, who swore strong oaths to him to leave the land and never fight against Olaf. The following winter the Uplanders joined Olaf, and on Pahn Sunday, 1015, he vanquished Earl Sweyn (Eric's brother, left by him in charge of Norway), which battle gives Olaf the crown of Norway. His youth, his renown as a leader, his mother's energy which won him the help of the Uplanders, and even his name, helped to smooth his way. But he was no Olaf Tryg-gvason come back, as the people hoped, this short, thick-set, ruddy young man, that carried his head slightly stooping, like the hard thinker he was. Here was a lover of order, who drove the courts, enforced the laws with the strong hand, and who, as other kings in like case, ruled through poor men he could trust rather than the nobles whom he suspected; who was the organiser of the public and the church-law and the severe scourge ot those that broke it; in short, as a man of Henry IPs type rather than that of Tryggvason, essentially a secular, business-like, hard-working man,—such was Norway's Saint that was to be.

Ten years he passed as an undisputed sovereign; he swiftly quelled a dangerous plot of the Upland Kings who had once joined him, but .now, like the Horse in the Fable, found out their mistake; settled a treaty and marriage with Sweden; made the Orkney earls his liegemen.

Bat now, c. 1025, when Cnut had made firm his seat in England, and a new generation of Englishmen faithful to the new dynasty, Godwine and Siward and Leofric, sat in the seats of Eadmund Ironside and Wolf-kettle, the mighty Dane sent, like some Assyrian emperor of old, to bid Olafacknowledge his suzerainty. Olaf refused, and then the storm, that had been gathering for some years at least, broke upon his head: the nobles who had felt the weight of his unswerving justice, the franklins who feared for their free moots and allods, and resented his inquisitorial proceedings with regard to the smouldering embers of heathendom, which were still to be found here and there among them. Their discontent was fed by the fair promises and more tangible money of Cnut, who, like Louis XI, thought that gold was a better weapon than steel. Olaf attempted to strengthen himself by an alliance with his namesake of Sweden, which led to the Holy River battle [near Christianstad, South Sweden], 1026; but, like the Jewish kings' league with Egypt, availed him little. When Cnut's fleet made its progress up the Norwegian coast, Olaf was obliged to fly, and after a sharp stroke of revenge, the slaying of Erling (Dec. 21st, 1028), he left his fleet, and marching by land across Norway and Sweden, he sought refuge in Russia.

In 1030 he determined to make an effort to regain his throne, and pushing across Sweden he came over lamt-land into Norway. But it was too soon; the remembrance of his harshness and the sweetness of Cnut's gold were still strong, and he comes face to face with his angry subjects at StieJklestead. The result of the battle must have been almost certain, but calmly and bravely, even cheerily, the King and the little knot of gallant followers, who had shared his good and evil fortunes with unshaken faith, meet the overwhelming host that were arrayed against them.

The day of Sticklestead (July 29,1030), when Olaf fell, stands next to Swold in the Kings' Lives, and in the popular mind as the most memorable day of Northern history, and poetry gathers about it. The nobility °f the man, who, though of a less heroic mould than his namesake, was y<* very marked and real (Sighvat and Thormod would not have loved a king who was not wTorthy of their jealous affection), the tragedy of his death, the feeling that in the people's mind ever follows such an event, the superstition which the horrifying phenomenon of a total eclipse on the battle-field a month later (Aug. 31st), could hardly fail to excite,—all attributed to canonise Olaf. And when the unfortunate reign of Cnut's lieutenant, the alien Sweyn -Elgyfu's son, with its bad seasons, its disappointments and degradations, and finally Cnut's death, had wrought such a revulsion of feeling that the very nobles who had slain the father sent for the son Magnus, a boy in his eleventh year, from Russia to be their king, it is not wonderful that it became almost a political creed a,Hl stamp of loyalty to regard Olaf as a martyr, and to cry up the miraculous efficacy of his relics. Soon, too, the missionary labours of the earlier Olaf were attributed to the later king, and the stern politician transformed into the martyr missionary. It is a remarkable proof of its credibility and early date, that the Icelandic Life of Olaf, when we remove foreign accretions and appendices, ® free entirely from any legendary views of his character. It draws him } ueular person, law-giver, justice, and financier. Hall of Hawkdale, the Historian's foster-father, was King OlaPs partner in trade. Olaf the Stout (Digri) is the name he bore in his lifetime. Sighvat, repeatedly, and the Poets aíddress his son Magnus as ' the son of the Stout;' even ¿ri the historian, in Libellus, still names him Olafr Digri.

We can even account for the one mistake the Icelandic Life makes, the identifying the day of the battle, July 29th (fixed by his Saint's day), with the day of the eclipse, August 31st; for Sighvat, who was in Rome at the time these events took place, must have heard of both together^ and his words, though not quite clear, may be well construed to favour such an identification, so agreeable to oral history.

St. Olaf's exact age at his death is not recorded; he would have been about twenty or twenty-two at his arrival in Norway, thus, thirty-six on the day of Sticklestead. Sighvat, in December 1028 (straitened, it is true, for rhyme on Tungor), speaks of him as young : yet every page of his Life impresses on one's mind the image of a man ripe in years and judgment. Kings of the olden time in the North, from their early youth in camp and on the sea, must have aged wonderfully fast.

Olaf and Anwynd the Swedish Kings.

Olaf the Swede, son of Eric the Victorious, fought at Swold and got a share of the spoil, whence arose diplomatic complications with the Norwegian King, Olaf Haroldsson. He had two daughters, Ingigerd and Anstrith, and one son, Eanwynd (Onund) or James. He married his eldest daughter to the Russian king laroslaw, instead of to Olaf, upon whom the second daughter was palmed off, though she too proved a noble-minded lady. By her St. Olaf had one daughter, Ulfhild, married to a Duke of Brunswick, through whom St. Olaf is the ancestor of almost all the Royal Houses of modern Europe, that of England among the rest.

The Swedish King loved flattery, and we hear of poets at his court, and of embassies to him in which poets were employed. He died c. 1024, and was succeeded by his son James, the foe of Cnut at Holy River, but his friend later on. He is known as the preserver of the English ^thelings, whom he sent into Hungary. He helped Magnus after Cnut's death, and lived on to 1054. Sighvat is put down as his poet in Skalda-tal. After his days Swedish history is almost blank. The house of Steinkell succeeds, who also seem to have encouraged poets to their court.

The Poetry: Sighvat the Poet.

The first half of the eleventh century in the days of St. Olaf, Cnut the Mighty and Olaf the Swede, was the heyday of Court-Poetry. There are counted nearly twenty poets who were at one time or another at these kings' courts. Of all these, Sighvat was incon-testably the first; there is no one since Egil who can be put in comparison with him; he is indeed the only one of the court-poets who, in our acceptation of the term, could be called a poet; he alone has burst through the chief difficulties of the metre wh'ch bound all the others, and is able to express himself almost as freely and pointedly as if he were making blank-verse; with him sense must come first, he has a meaning and must set it forth plainly; and in several instances it is amusing how he contrives to do this, by putting in an aside, often a proverb, scorning the inane kennings and fill-gaps of the poetasters. One cannot but regret that Sighvat was forced to compose in court-metre; but it is certain that he is able to convey more in that straitened vehicle than many another poet could in plain rhymeless verse. To this end, too, he often dislocates his sentences, throwing object or subject into the centre of the next period; but as his use of kennings is so sparing, the isolated word is at once referred by the mind of the listener to the right place, and the sense is not obscured. His vocabulary is remarkably rich, and we meet with many foreign words (indices of Northern culture of that day) in his poems, especially those of Romance origin, which first appear in them. Happily more of Sighvat has reached us than of any other court-poet, although no long poem of his is complete, over 600 lines in all.

Sighvat's character is also very different from the troubadour-type of court-poet, of which we had several examples. He was a thoughtful, gentle, peace-loving man; a man to be trusted in matters of state and affairs of consequence; a steady, wise and bold counsellor and friend, and not ashamed to stand before kings. A man of true valour, though in warfare the Nesia Battle is his only feat in arms.

He was dark-haired and dark-eyed, as almost all the Icelandic poets were, and his speech was hesitating, but he could improvise verse as fast and clearly as another man could talk.

Sighvat's father was Thorfred (Thorrod) Sigwald's poet, an Icelander who had been in the service of the Iomswicking Sigwald and his brother Thorkettle the Tall (who is well known from the English Chronicle). Thorfred is said to have taken to trade on his first patron's fall, and to have met King Olaf in the Baltic and entered his suite. The boy Sighvat is said to have been brought up at Apewater in South Iceland, and to have come out to seek his father when yet a youth« He himself says, * I was beardless quite when I met Cnut and Olaf first.' This was probably in the year 1014-1015, but as he was old enough to compose a poem, Olqf's Praise, for which he got a good fee, and to be enrolled in the king's guard, and as we find him fighting in the Nesia Battle in 1015 for certain, and a few years later (1018, if we trust chronology, which is never quite safe) trusted to carry on some important negotiations, we cannot place his birth later than 995. On the Nesia Battle he made a short poem, addressed to a comrade, Teit. We are told of his doings at court in connection with the troublesome blind King Rorek (Roderick) also about this time.

The high consideration and friendship with which he was held by such a king as St. Olaf, often touchingly referred to in his verses, is a signal proof of his worth. He was the king's ambassador in a journey which supplied him with material for his 1 Journey to the East * a poetical report on a diplomatic errand to Earl Reginwald then in Garth [Novgorod], to whom Olaf Tryggvason had sent Hallfred twenty years earlier. In the first part of this poem he bids farewell to Olaf, and then goes on to tell of his adventures, giving his opinion on the Earl's character, and his attitude towards the Norwegian King.

About 1025, an incident is recorded in which Sighvat plays a prominent part. "Alfhild, the king's handmaiden, bore a son one night, and for a time it was uncertain whether the babe would live, and the priest begged Sighvat, who was present, to tell the king. ' I dare not wake him/ said the poet, 'for he has strictly forbidden any one to wake him before he wakes of himself.' i But the child must be baptized, for it looks very poorly.' ' I would rather risk your baptizing the child at once, than wake the king; and I will bear the blame and give it a name.' So they did, and the boy was baptized and called Magnus. In the morning, when the king was awake and clothed, he was told all that had happened. Then he sent for Sighvat to him, and said, ' Why wast thou so bold as to have my son baptized before

I heard of it?' 'Because,' answered Sighvat, 'I would rather ghre two people to God than one to the Devil.' 'What dost thou mean by that?' said the king. Sighvat answered, 'The child was at the point of death, and would have been the Devil's if he had died, hot now he is God's. Moreover I knew this, that if thou wert wroth with me, I could lose no more than my life. Moreover, if thou shouldst order that I lose my life for this cause, I hoped that I should belong to God.' ' Why didst thou call the boy Magnus ?' said the king. 4 That is not one of our family names.' ' I called him after King Carla-Magnus (Charlemain), whom I knew to have been the best man cm earth.' Then the king said,' Thou art a man of great good fortune; and it is no wonder for fortune to follow wisdom; it is rather a marvel, when, as sometimes falls out, good fortune follows fools, and focflisb counsels turn out luckily.'"

In 1026 we find Sighvat travelling to the West with his partner Berg to Rouen in Normandy, and from thence to England, where he went up at once to see Cnut, for he wished to get leave to go to Norway, and he found an embargo laid on all ships, for the king was minded to lead a great host across the North Sea to enforce his suzerainty on Norway. He made an Encomium on Cnut at this time (1026-1027), called Tog-drapa (afterwards imitated by Thorarin Praise-tongue), in a peculiar metre, four measured, with line rhyme, in which, amongst other things, he records that monarch's journey to Rome, apparently still fresh in men's minds, an additional confirmation of the view that with regard to that event even the English Chronicle is a few years wrong.

From England (autumn 1027) Sighvat sailed to Norway, and went to King Olaf at Borg on the Raum-Elbe (Glommen), a favourite resort of his, ' and, entering the hall, greeted him, but Olaf looked at him and said nothing.' Sighvat then improvised a verse, 'Tell me, lord, where am I to sit, I have been away and all the benches are full.' Then was proved the truth of the old saw,' The king has many ears/ for Olaf had heard all about his journey, how he had been to see Cnut, and he said to him, ' I know not whether thou meanest now to be my marshal or whether thou hast become Cnut's liegeman.' Sighvat answers in verse: 4 Cnut asked me to be his liegeman as I was yours 5 but I said that one lord was enough for a man, and I think I have set a good example in this answer.' Then the king bade him go to the seat he was wont to have before, and Sighvat soon grew into the same friendship with him which he had enjoyed before. Of this voyage Sighvat made a poem, Journey to the ¡Vest, which he addresses to his partner Berg.

But it would seem that Olaf never quite forgave the poet, for Sighvat anyhow was not with the king in the last days of his career, and the death of Erling Skialgsson, 21 Dec. 1028, drew from him a feeling little poem, Erling's Dirge, on the generous Baron, Tryggvason's brother-in-law, who had been so cruelly slain. And now the catastrophe, which ever since his voyage to England Sighvat had probably seen and deplored, came, and Olaf was obliged to fly. Sighvat remained in Norway, which he would hardly have done if the two had been on the old familiar footing of friendship; but not for long, for he was determined to throw away the sword and take the staff and pay a pilgrimage to the holy places at Rome, and there he was when Stickiest ead fight was lost, and there the news reached him. An affectionate poem, Olafs Dirge,' Erfi drapa Olaf s,' attests his sore distress at the sad tidings, nor does the impression ever seem to have worn off; there is a deeper and more pensive strain in all his later compositions than we find in his earlier works.

A few improvisations of regret and disgust mark his feelings at the degradation of Sweyn's alien sway: but in 1036 (according to Sanund's chronology), to his great delight, his godchild Magnus is called to his father's throne. His fatherly affection for the boy is shown in all his dealings with him. About 1039 we get the highest proof of this; the young king, led astray by evil counsellors, was beginning, contrary to the agreement of Wolfsound, upon which he was raised to the crown, to wreak unlawful vengeance upon those who had been in the battle against his father. The franklins called for the laws of Hakon the Good, and murmured loudly. At last the king's true friends met, and twelve of them took counsel together, and agreed to throw lots among them for one of them to go and tell Magnus what men were murmuring against him, and it was so managed that the lot fell upon Sighvat. So he made the poem called brsoglis Visor, the Plain-Speaking Verses. 'A king should keep his word. He is a friend that warns a man in time. There is one tale ^ tell, that you are laying your hand on your thanes' allod-lands. This they will call robbery. Be warned in time, my lord,' are a few the salient phrases of this striking poem. It may be compared *ith the Grand Remonstrance of Simon's Partisan after Lewes, but * Was more successful; to Magnus' honour he listened to the good ^vice, and it seems to have been a kind of crisis in his life, for a Norse Code of Laws called Greygoose was in the tradition known as Law of Magnus, Sighvat's godchild—in fact, some codification of St. Olaf's Law.

This is the last noticed act of the poet; he died within a little time, 1040-1043, but exactly when we cannot say. His body was bid in Christ Church at Nidaros, as the pretty account of his death in Flatey-bok informs us. He had one daughter, Tova, to whom King Olaf stood godfather, but of her subsequent fortunes nothing is known.

There must have been a Saga of Sighvat, from which some of the stories about him are taken; for instance, that of Ivar the White, a gentleman of good family and a baron of King Olafs. One day, when be had heard Sighvat recite a poem in the king's honour, he said,1 It would be wise for you poets to make poems on other great tnen, and not only on the king, for he may grow tired of giving you gifts, if you keep on making poetry on him.' * Such men as thou art,' says Sighvat politely, 'are well worthy of a poet's praise.' A little time afterwards Sighvat, remembering Ivar's words, goes to visit him, and tells him that he has made a poem on him. The king had warned him that Ivar was a fitful and changeable man, so Sighvat was not surprised to find him by no means pleased to see him. 4 It is often the way of you poets, when the king gets tired of your noise, to come d°wn, and seek how to draw money out of us franklins.' Sighvat ^ered this welcome warily in verse, i You saw the king sit quiet enough while I sang in his honour, you can surely do the same.' ' You ** right, poet,' says Ivar; and he listened quietly to the poem, and P^d for it handsomely when he had heard it out. faking Sighvat's poems one by one:— Olafj Drapa (of c. 1014), a 'flokk' or short encomium. It is of ype originated probably by Sighvat himself or his father, a chronological bt of engagements in regular order, told in a conventional way, which does not show such skill as he afterwards exhibited. It is, however, very valuable as an authentic account of St. OlaPs early life, and may be used to check the prose accounts. In the English stanzas we have an interesting notice of the Dyke at London, and mention of the Portreeves and Port-men of Canterbury: a place-name is concealed beneath 'Nya-modo,' perhaps 'Lea-mouth.' In the French stanzas a good many names are corrupt, and not yet identified. ' Haeli,' ' Grislapoll,' ' Eari William of Wi.. .,' ' Fetla-firth,'' Gundwald's borough,' and the Earl thereof,1 Geirfrid.' Verse i 5 is not by the poet of the rest. See Notes.

II. The Nesia Visor (of 1016), a 'flokk.' The poet is here for the first time seen in his characteristic style. He delights in having been with his sharp sword and his Poitevin helmet, by the golden banner-staff, when Carle-head [Olaf's ship at that time] was laid alongside the Earl's galley, on that glorious Palm Sunday. He describes the rattle and confusion of the fight, the wounded crew tumbling overboard in their panic when the day was lost, the order of Sweyn (whom he treats with chivalrous courtesy throughout) to cut away the stems, so that the ships, chained together by head and stern, might get loose quickly. The mention of the Upland men confirms the accounts in the Life of Olaf, of the king having got hold of Norway mainly by the Upland counties' help.

III. The Austr-fara Visor (c. 1023), in very confused order in the Saga. We have tried to put it into order, according to their subjects, under three heads: the sailing and riding to Rognwald in Gard [Novgorod] ; the arrival at Rognwald town; the wearisome journey back on foot through Sweden, among inhospitable heathens, told with humour; and, lastly, the results of the embassy. This seems the only practicable plan, for it, at all events, yields a consistent story and does not go counter to any fact we know; some order it is evident they must be put into. The names 'Strinda fiordr,' 'Listahaf,' 4 Eikunda sund,' 'Eygota land,' ' Gardar' mark the points of his journey (though two of them are restored words). In his journey Sighvat found Rognwald in Garth, not in Upsala as the prose makes out, and we thereby learn that he had already left Sweden, and was in that universal refuge for princes, the Swedo-Slavonic state of Novgorod. There are some fine touches in Sighvat'« best style in this poem and the improvisations which we have put in their places in its course. It is a pity the political part of the poem (vv. 19-23) is partly corrupt, partly lost.

IV. With the remnants of West-fara Visor (journey to England anc Normandy) we have put the Stray Verses which deal with his returr after the journey which he has celebrated in that poem. His frequtn\ trading journeys are spoken of in stanza 1. The political allusions ir some of these verses are to be noted; the grandeur of Cnut's court (al Southampton probably); the splendid presents with which he sought t< win his rival's friends; the submission of the Scottish princes ' North o the middle of Fife' (a lact recorded in the English Chronicle as happening the year after he came home from Rome); the warning to Ola of the way Cnut was using his riches; and we must not overlook thi poet's proud repudiation ot any treachery to his lord and friend, though poet as he was, he had been dazzled by Cnut's greatness, and evei requited Cnut's kindness by an Encomium.

V. Tog-drapa (autumn 1027?). This metre is here met with for tin first time. Thorarin's copy was produced next year, so that it may hav< been a new and admired invention of Sighvat himself. The stanzas 01 the English King's pilgrimage, meeting with the Emperor, and favou with him and the Pope, confirm (though they are a little corrupt, and we cannot be sure of the readings) the conclusions of modern chrono-logists. The autumn of 1027, before the poet left England, seems the right date of this poem. There is no reason to suppose that this poem was a Dirge, though some MSS. read 'Cnutr <was und himnoin,' instead of'wund himnom,' but the tenor of the whole is against its being composed after Cnut's death. Nor can we find any probability of Sighvat's making a Dirge on Cnut, in the circumstances in which he was then placed as trusty adviser of the young Magnus and spokesman of the Norwegian baronage. The allusion in 11. 1-2 shows the light in which the Danes regarded Cnut, as the successor of Ragnar rather than the peaceful ally of Eadmund.

VI. Rrling'j Dirge (January 1029). It is a chivalrous tribute to one whom he must have loved, to risk his patron's favour in praising. For Olaf, though a just, was not a 'forgiving man,' and Sighvat could have remembered his anger at the Tog-drapa. This poem has suffered sorely. The prose of the Kings' Lives contains statements that certainly were drawn from the poem, and are not now found in it. We may be sure, for example, that the date Thomas-mass occurred here, and can point out the line from which it is missing. One statement as to Sighvat's being at Wick we can see underneath a common phrase. The stanza (10) respecting Erling's wealth and power has been turned into a commonplace eulogium on his glory in war. His glory was that of a peat lord and husbandman, and there is no proof that he ever was in battle till the day befell.

VII. Erji-drapa Olafs (c. 1031). This poem is full of noteworthy features. We have put into order, according to subject, all the stanzas whfch we have of Sighvat on the dead King, irrespective of their order in the Kings' Lives. Thus we have put to the end the stanza which speaks of the Eclipse, 31 Aug. 1030 (as Hanstein has calculated), because, ^ough in accordance no doubt with popular belief, the prose makes the words 'That day ' refer to the battle-day, and inserts the verse there; it is not certain that Sighvat thought so. He certainly knew 'Olaf's-®ass,' 29th July, a date which was by all analogy fixed on because it was the day of the King's martyrdom. In the account of the battle itself, we have tried to restore the poet's text from the old extracts in the Saga, the number of the combatants, the order of battle, etc., for which due account will be given in the Notes. The early established sanctity of the King is attested by this poem, composed within a year or two of his death: the two miracles (beside the Eclipse) being the giving of sight to the blind and the incorruptibility of the Saint's body, upon which the hair and nails grew. Thorarin's imitation of these stanzas (at most a year or two later, c. 1033-4) in Sweyn's days adds to these the ringing of the bells of the shrine, and the big bells in the tower pealing without mortal hands, and sets forth Olaf plainly as the patron saint of Norway. Verse 7 we would ascribe to Othere. See Notes.

VIII. A collection of Stray Verses, some composed before, some after the date of the last poem (1030-32), put together in order as here. They fonn a little poem as it were, in which the poet sets forth the grief with which he remembered the past when he heard the sad news on the Alps in the morning, and repels the accusation of having abandoned Olaf. 'I was in Rome in jeopardy,' he says (sickness probably), and laments the evil hungry days of Sweyn, all the more dreary by their contrast with tbe smiling happiness of Olafs reign. One would like to have Sighvat's impressions of Rome, but they have perished.

IX. Verses on Magnus' Restoration (c. 1035-36), in praise of Anstritb his good step-mother,' the wise counsellor, the deep-thoughted lady, the daughter of Olaf, whom the Stout One wedded.' The exhortation to Alfhild, 1 the king's bond-woman,' Magnus' mother, is put here as analogous in subject.

X. The Bersoglis Visor (c. 1039-40) open and close with an exhortation to speedy action, for the danger is pressing. But the tenor of the whole is to set forth the grievances which caused the disaffection, and to counsel the young king, for his own sake, to amend them and cleave to his coronation oath. * A noble king should hold fast to his word.' The vindication of the poet's own position, the enumeration of the faithful service which gives him a right to speak and be listened to, are nobly simple and pathetic. We have set the verses in order as well as we could, but any arrangement must, in absence of more evidence, be tentative. In the Norwegian laws we find the notice of an Atli, speaker of the law in Gula-land, who won certain 'novels' from King Magnus, his name is almost certainly hidden under the ' aetlak' of 1. 65 and ' lattan' of 1.1, cf. Agrip. cap. 29. The compiler of Magnus' Saga did not understand the verse. [See Diet, sub voce aetla, 769 a.] There are many more corrupt verses in this poem, which stands alone among the compositions of the court-poets.

XI. The Occasional Verses have been thrown together at the end. We do not take ver. 10 to refer to the King's death, but rather to some petty incident of Sighvat's life. The verse, p. 148, seems to be a fragment of a hint's Encomium, perhaps founded on some story the poet heard in Rome.

The poems of Sighvat have suffered a great deal, though with this distinction: his 1 Visor,' or more informal poetry (III-V, VlIl-XI) have, like the Wolsung-lays in our vol. i, undergone decomposition from faulty memory and indifferent MSS., but no revision. These ma) in time be restored. Here we often meet with a whole suite of verses in Sighvat's pure strain without a single kenning; even through the fault) mangled lines the sense gleams, often pathetic, always loyal. Worse is the case in the more historical Encomia of I, VI, VII; especially the battle section of Sticklestead. Here whole sets of lines are painted over by a later re-modeller; the lines stuffed with inane sentences mostly in Cambyses' vein, unworthy of Sighvat. The facts as they once stood, and as Ari read them, we have now to glean from the prose narrative ol the Saga, which too is often diluted by a thirteenth-century historian, Yet the annalistic, realist sentences of Ari gleam out of it, and the lines in the poem whence these statements of fact were drawn can be marked out with certainty in many cases.

The great bulk (always, unless the contrary be stated) of this section i< drawn from St. Olafs Saga (in the foot-notes A, A1, or Cd.« Cod. Holm.; A'-'-Kringla; B = the text in Fms. vols, iv, v, AM. 61).

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