Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Gamli kanóki, 1. Harmsól, 43 [Vol. 7, 111-12]

[5] þvís hringstyrjar hverjum: The ms. reading ‘því er hringstýr…a huerium’ is rather problematical. Konráð Gíslason suggested that the l. originally read ‘því er hrings fira hverjum’, but had been garbled in transmission. He postulated the arrangement því er fira hverjum, hrings yngra þoll ok ellra ‘therefore is to each man, the younger tree of the ring and the older’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson, followed by Kempff, adopted the 399a-bˣ reading ‘hringstyre’ (from hring stýri), overlooking the final ‘a’ in B. Finnur Jónsson, who read ‘hringstyre a’ (Skj A), emended to hringskúrar (‘of the ring [i.e. sword]-shower’), giving a battle- and (with þollr ‘fir-tree’) a warrior-kenning. Rydberg (1907, lxxiii) suggested a palaeographical solution to this difficulty. The scribe, he notes, uses <e> and <i> in word-final position without distinction. Rydberg suggests that the copyist interpreted the final <i> in ‘hringstýri’ as a final vowel, and altered it to an ‘e’ which is now lost in B. The <i> was in fact consonantal and was followed either by <a> (as the remains in B suggest) or by an ar abbreviation. The reading is then hringstýrjar (gen. sg.) ‘of sword-din’, which gives a man-kenning þollr hringstýrjar ‘tree of the sword-din’. Rydberg’s suggestion is perhaps confirmed by 399a-bˣ’s reading ‘hringstýri a’, which suggests that confusion over consonantal <i> (not, we note, normalised to <e>) originated with the B copyist. Rydberg’s elegant solution is adopted by Jón Helgason (1935-6, 259), Kock and Black, as well as here.

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