Cite as: Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 64 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur 17)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 428.
|Báru brúðir bleikhaddaðar,
ambáttir tvær, öl til skemmu.
|Vara þat höndum horfit né hamri klappat; |
þó var fyrir eyjar útan örðigr, sá er ker gerði.
Heiðrekr konungr, hyggðu at gátu.
Bleikhaddaðar brúðir, tvær ambáttir, báru öl til skemmu. Vara þat horfit höndum né klappat hamri; þó var örðigr, sá er ker gerði, fyrir útan eyjar. Heiðrekr konungr, hyggðu at gátu.
Pale-haired brides, two handmaids, bore ale to the storehouse. It was not turned by hand nor struck by hammer; yet outside the islands was that upright one who made the keg. King Heiðrekr, think about the riddle.
Mss: 2845(71r), 281ˣ(100r), 597bˣ(50r), R715ˣ(29r) (ll. 1-8) (Heiðr)
Readings:  öl: áðr R715ˣ  Vara: so 281ˣ, 597bˣ, ei var 2845, vóru R715ˣ; þat: þeir R715ˣ; höndum: höndum corrected from ‘hordum’ in a later hand 597bˣ, ‘lyndum’ R715ˣ  né: ‘nei’ R715ˣ; hamri: so 281ˣ, ‘hmri at’ 2845, hamra 597bˣ, ‘harmi nei hamri’ R715ˣ; klappat: ‘klap’ R715ˣ  þó: þá 281ˣ, 597bˣ, R715ˣ; var: er 281ˣ, 597bˣ, R715ˣ  örðigr: ‘anoþigur’ R715ˣ; ker: so 281ˣ, 597bˣ, om. 2845, konungr R715ˣ [9-10] abbrev. as ‘h k̄ h a ɢatu’ 2845, abbrev. as ‘heid: k.’ 281ˣ, abbrev. as ‘h: Kongr h:’ 597bˣ
Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], D. 5. Heiðreks gátur 9: AII, 223, BII, 241-2, Skald II, 125; NN §3283; Heiðr 1672, 148, FSN 1, 470-1, Heiðr 1873, 247-8, 336, Heiðr 1924, 64, 69, 137, FSGJ 2, 41, Heiðr 1960, 36; Edd. Min. 112.
Context: In the H redaction, before Gestumblindi speaks this riddle Heiðrekr challenges him (Heiðr 1924, 69): Eða kantu ekki á annan veg gátur upp at bera en hafa et sama upphaf at, þar sem mér virðiz þú fróðr maðr? ‘Do you not know another way to propound riddles than to have the same beginning, since I think you a wise man?’
Notes: [All]: Heiðrekr’s response is (Heiðr 1960, 36): þar fara svanbrúðir til hreiðrs síns ok verpa eggjum; skurm á eggi er eigi hǫndum gǫrt né hamri klappat, en svanr er fyrir eyjar útan ǫrðigr, sá er þær gátu eggin við ‘There female swans go to their nest and lay their eggs; the shell of the egg is not made by hands nor struck by hammer, but the swan outside the islands is upright, he with whom they produced the egg’. The H-redaction wording is quite different (and less preferable) (Heiðr 1924, 70): þat eru æðar tvær þær er eggjum verpa; eggin eru eigi gǫr með hamri eða hǫndum, en þjónostumeyjar báru ǫlit í eggskurninni ‘It is two eider-ducks who lay their eggs; the eggs are not made with hammer or hands, but the servant-girls carried the ale in the eggshell’. Female eider-ducks do not have white plumage (cf. bleikhaddaðr ‘pale-headed’ l. 2); moreover, the örðigr ‘upright [one]’ in l. 8 seems appropriate to a swan’s long neck and/or the action of a male swan guarding its territory. — [All]: Following
Heiðrekr’s challenge in the H redaction (see Context), there is a move away
from the Hvat er þat undra formula of
the previous nine riddles. This effect is lost in the
other redactions, which do not group all the undra riddles together, nor do they have the prose challenge. In this stanza, ll. 1-4 and 9-10 are fornyrðislag and 5-8 are málaháttr. —  brúðir ‘brides’: In poetry the word can refer to women in general as well as more specifically ‘brides’ (Fritzner, LP: brúðr). Cf. Heiðr 71/1. —  bleikhaddaðar ‘pale-haired’: The cpd is a hap. leg., but similar compounds in ‑haddaðar ‘-haired’ are attested: see e.g. Án 5/3 hvíthaddaðar ‘fair-haired’ and Note. Cf. also Heiðr 68/4 hadda bleika (acc. pl.) ‘pale hair’, which describes an attribute of waves. —  öl ‘ale’: Edd. Min. suggests ǫlker ‘ale-keg’ here, which gives better sense and is also adopted in Skald (cf. NN §3283), but is without ms. justification (but cf. l. 8 and Note). —  skemmu ‘storehouse’: Plays
on alternate meanings of skemma,
‘storehouse’ and ‘bower’, the former appropriate to an ale-keg, the latter
appropriate to a bird’s nest. —  ker ‘keg’: Not in the main ms. and makes the line hypermetrical, and most eds omit, but the keg is clearly what is being referred to rather than the ale inside. To include it here avoids the need for more drastic emendation (cf. Note to l. 4 öl above), and although R715ˣ’s reading, konungr ‘king’, is clearly nonsensical (and ungrammatical), it at least supports there originally having been a word (perhaps beginning with k) here. Heiðr 1873 (247) retains, though omits the previous sá er ‘that one’, making the line more acceptable metrically.