Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Gamli kanóki, 1. Harmsól, 56 [Vol. 7, 123-4]

[3] bragar ‘it glimmers’: The beginning of this word is extremely badly worn and affected by misalignment. Traces of an initial tall letter are visible, but cannot be identified with any certainty, and this was so when 399a-bˣ was written, either ‘b’ or ‘h’ being suggested then. Rydberg (1907, 30) suggests bagar (see below). Finnur Jónsson (Skj A and B) reads hagar, which he takes to be the 3rd pers. sg. pres. tense of haga. Various meanings of haga exist, none of which seems entirely appropriate here (see Fritzner: haga), including ‘to manage, organise, arrange, suit’. Finnur construes mér hagar opt fyr augum, which he translates de (lastens gærninger) er ofte fordelagtige for mine öjne ‘they (sinful deeds) are often advantageous in my eyes’ though he indicates that he is uncertain of this interpretation. In LP: haga he suggests that it should be understood as an impersonal construction, and glosses det [onde] viser sig ofte som godt i mine öjne ‘[evil] often reveals itself as good in my eyes’. Kock (NN §174) rejects the notion that the verb is impersonal, preferring to translate den [onde] är ofte behaglig i mina ögon ‘the [evil one] is often pleasant in my eyes’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 31 n. 69) anticipates Rydberg’s reading, reconstructing bagar, which he takes to be a formation from bagi ‘difficulty, impediment’. He translates det hindrer mig ‘that hinders me’. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 260-1) picks up on a suggestion made by Sveinbjörn Egilsson in a marginal note in Jón Sigurðsson’s copy of 399a-bˣ (i.e. 444ˣ). He emends to bragar, 1st pers. sg. pres. indic. of braga ‘to glimmer, flicker, flash’, and construes æligs móðs (l. 4) as part of the intercalated cl., which he translates ofte flimrer det for min elendige sjæls øjne ‘it often flickers before the eyes of my wretched soul’. This poetic and elegant interpretation avoids the problems associated with haga, and the necessity of postulating a back-formation bagar, and this emendation is adopted here.

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