Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 38. Óttarr svarti, 2. Knútsdrápa, 8 [Vol. 1, 777]

[3, 4] sverð knôttut verða slæ ‘swords did not become blunt’: These words have been variously interpreted. (a) The reading of ÍF 35, ‘swords did not become blunt’ seems best and is adopted here since it avoids any form of emendation. That swords were not blunted could be a comment on the excellence of the swords – presumably Danish ones. (b) Skj B and Skald both emend verða to verja. See Note to [All] above for the construal in Skj B, while that in Skald gives ‘blunt swords could not defend the stronghold where you attacked’. This compromises the aðalhending (NN §2781), and may have been designed to avoid a tripartite l. 4, though this is acceptable: see Gade (1995a, 215-16). (c) Knýtl 1919-25 removes the suffixed negative -t from knôttu, to produce lit. ‘swords did become blunt’. If this refers to Danish swords, it could mean that they were blunted through vigorous use.


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