Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Gyðingsvísur, 3 [Vol. 7, 519-20]

[1-4]: In l. 1 the second word is difficult to read in B, but Finnur Jónsson’s ‘er’ (Skj A) is almost certainly right; he noted there that 399a-bˣ’s suggested firi must be incorrect, and similarly Rydberg’s vid. Attwood 1996a, 116 has til. Rydberg (1907, 59) reads the word as við and takes hvarf to be 3rd pers. sg. pret. of hverfa ‘to turn’. He arranges rjóðr branda hvarf við þeim þingnárum brynflagðra í bráðar nauðsynjar ‘the reddener of swords turned to the assembly-beings of mailcoat-trolls in cases of sudden need’. Although this interpretation is grammatically possible, it is rather unlikely in context. Assuming the rjóðr branda of l. 3 to be identified with sá er kunni veita fírum unnleyg* in 2/1-2 and with the person whose generosity is eulogised in 3/5-8 and st. 4, it is difficult to understand why he should approach other men for financial help in 3/1-4. This edn follows Skj B in taking hvarf as the nom. sg. of n. hvarf ‘shelter, refuge, support, help’ (cf. Fritzner: hvarf 2), which fits rather better with the second helmingr and with the situation of other people’s dependency on the rich man established in st. 2 and confirmed in st. 4. There appear to be two possible interpretations of the remaining phrase er váru þurfa (ll. 1-2). This edn follows Finnur Jónsson in taking váru as 3rd pers. pl. pret. of vera ‘to be’, construed with brynflagða þingnárungar (see Note below). Þurfa (l. 1) is taken to be the corresponding form of the adj. þurfi meaning ‘needy’. This interpretation is corroborated by a parallel use of the adj. in the ONorw. Bjarkö-ret: Fylkisprestr eðr annarr í stað hans skal heima vera ok gera mönnum reiðu ef þurfa eru ‘The district priest or another in his stead must remain at home and provide assistance for people if they are needy’ (NGL I, 315; CVC; Fritzner: þurfi.).

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