Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 4. Auðunn illskælda, Lausavísa, 2 [Vol. 1, 122]

[7-8]: There are many uncertainties about the text of these lines and most of l. 8 is now illegible in the ms. There are also some significant differences in the readings of the various C19th eds. The reading of Hb 1892-6 seems reliable though its various notes should also be consulted. The syntax of the lines is also uncertain. Guðmundur Finnbogason (1928, 224) suggested emending ‘ibar’ to í barm, which could then agree with raman (m. acc. sg. of ramr ‘strong’) to mean ‘into my strong breast’, giving the sense ‘I did not find the spirited woman creeping into my strong embrace’. However, as Kock pointed out (NN §2210A) this requires alliteration to fall on the second element of the noun phrase skelfis bjalfa. He himself (Skald and NN §2210A) emended ‘ibar skelfis’ to í barrskelfis, interpreting this cpd as a noun barrskelfir ‘food (lit. barley)-shaker’, i.e. ‘person generous with food’, applying the cpd to the woman, even though the agent noun skelfir must be m. This conjecture is also unsatisfactory. The interpretation offered here, for which the present ed. is indebted to Kari Ellen Gade, is that barr- means ‘pine needle’ and that the cpd barrskelfis means ‘pine needle shaker’, a kenning-like phrase (or a kenning) for the wind, which is also mentioned in the first helmingr. The adj. bjúgr ‘bent’ then qualifies this cpd noun. This leaves í raman bjalfa ‘into the strong hide (animal-skin)’ as the place to which the rakka mey ‘spirited woman’ (l. 6) does not creep. Although the sense of this phrase is obscure, it could refer to the skíðgarðr ‘paling fence’ that separates the three skalds from the woman they all desire. Perhaps the skíðgarðr was composed of both wooden pales and leather thongs to bind them? Bjalfi is not a common noun, but it occurs in Þjóð Haustl 12/4III, where it forms part of a kenning for an eagle’s wings, flugbjalfi hauks ‘a hawk’s flight-skin’ (the eagle being the giant Þjazi) and in Arngr Gd 34/8IV, where it refers to a man’s leather garment, possibly a cap.

references

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