Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 12. Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa, 8 [Vol. 1, 168]

[8] byr kvánar óls mána ‘fair wind of the wife of the affliction of the moon [GIANT > GIANTESS > MIND]’: This kenning is clearly of the well-known type ‘wind of the giantess [MIND/THOUGHT]’, but it has caused difficulty because of the significant variance in ms. readings. (a) The explanation adopted in this edn is due to Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1886, 195-203, followed by ÍF 26). The reading óls (found only in J1ˣ, J2ˣ) is adopted. This is gen. sg. of the rare ól n., whose etymological sense is ‘pestilence, affliction’ (see AEW: ól 2 and Note to ÞSkall Valfl 1/8II, where it appears to have the meaning ‘troll-woman’). The kenning apparently alludes to the Mánagarmr ‘hound of the moon’, a giant in the likeness of a wolf who will swallow the sun (and/or moon) according to Gylf (SnE 2005, 14; cf. ÍF 26), although the evidence for this figure prior to SnE is equivocal (SnE 2005, 172). (b) Finnur Jónsson (1884, 93; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: óskkvôn, máni; Skj B, followed by Skald; Hkr 1991) instead selects ósk ‘wish’, the reading of F, and reads byr óskkvánar mána ‘fair wind of the desired/desiring woman of Máni/the moon [GIANTESS > MIND]’, but corruption of this easily interpreted reading to óls or óðs would be unlikely, and there is no direct evidence that Máni ‘moon’ had giant status (SnE 2005, 13; Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1886, 196-200; ÍF 26). See Egill St 13/2V (Eg 84) for a similar, also problematic, context containing the words byr and mána .

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