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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Lausavísur (Anon)

III. 4. Stanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise (TGT) - 38

not in Skj

2.2: Stanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise — Anon (TGT)III

Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Stanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 536.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38 

cross-references:  21 = Anon (TGT) 17III 

SkP info: III, 556

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

28 — Anon (TGT) 28III

also: Anonymous Poems, Verses about a woman 5

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Tarrin Wills (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise 28’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 556.

En skinnbjarta skortir
— skap kannask mér svanna —
— dýrs hon hætt at hváru —
hálmmein Njǫrun steina.

En {skinnbjarta Njǫrun steina} skortir {hálmmein}; skap svanna kannask mér; hon [e]s at hváru hætt dýr.

But {the bright-skinned Njǫrun <goddess> of stones} [WOMAN] lacks {straw-harm} [BLADE]; the temperament of the woman is known to me; she is in any case a dangerous animal.

Mss: W(108) (TGT)

Readings: [4] hálmmein: ‘halm æín’ W

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XII], C. Vers om ubestemmelige personer og begivenheder 31: AI, 600, BI, 600, Skald I, 292, NN §§ 1233B, 1853A; SnE 1818, 327, SnE 1848, 194, SnE 1848-87, II, 158-9, III, 148, TGT 1884, 26, 102, 213-14, TGT 1927, 74, 104.

Context: Cited as an example of metaphora (‘metaphor’), which Óláfr defines as follows (TGT 1927, 74): Metaphora er framfæring orða eða hlutu í aðra merking ‘Metaphor is the transfer of words or things into another meaning’. In this instance, the woman in question is called an animal.

Notes: [All]: The fifth unattributed dróttkvætt fragment in TGT whose subject is a woman. Cf. Note to Anon (TGT) 6 [All]. — [1] skortir ‘lacks’: Skorta is construed impersonally with two accusatives here (e-n skortir e-t). — [3] hon [e]s … hætt dýr ‘she is … a dangerous animal’: This interpretation is implicit in Óláfr’s comments to this stanza (TGT 1927, 74): Hér er dýr kǫlluð konan ‘Here the woman is called an animal’. Without reference to the prose context, dýr could be understood as f. nom. sg. of dýrr adj. ‘expensive’, hence ‘she is dangerously expensive’ or ‘she is precious’ (without hætt), the interpretation adopted by some eds (TGT 1884; NN §1233B; Skj B). — [3] hætt ‘dangerous’: Both Björn Magnússon Ólsen (TGT 1884) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) take hætt with hálmmein/hállmeins, i.e. ‘dangerous fire’, but this creates a tripartite l. 3. — [4] hálmmein ‘straw-harm [BLADE]’: Emendation is justified as W, the only witness here, frequently omits single letters which are otherwise preserved in A and B. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SnE 1848-87, I, 332) suggested the emendation included here. The present interpretation is based on the use of a scythe or blade for cutting hay (cf. the Strøm whetstone (Run KJ50/2VI; RäF 110-13) aaskaþiaþuligi ‘may it harm the hay [but] lie [peacefully] in a fight’, referring to the blade sharpened by the stone). This produces the sense that although the woman lacks a blade, she is nevertheless dangerous. Although a large number of kennings for ‘fire’ follow a similar pattern, they all have a determinant referring to wood or something wooden (wood, tree, forest, hall, branch; cf. Meissner 100-1), rather than ‘straw’, as here. (b) Most eds nevertheless interpret hálmmein ‘straw-harm’ as a kenning for ‘fire’. In this reading, the sense would then be metaphorical: eldr, for example, is used elsewhere to refer to passionate feelings (ONP: eldr 17). Björn Magnússon Ólsen (TGT 1884, 214) suggests an ofljóst construction involving the referent ‘fire’: fire is also birti ‘brightness’ which in turn is homonymous with skírleikr, which can also mean ‘purity, chastity’, producing the sense that the woman is unchaste. Finnur Jónsson adopts this interpretation in LP: halmein). However, birti is not recorded with the sense ‘fire’ (rather, ‘brightness’; cf. LP, Fritzner, ONP); and it is not included in the þulur among heiti for ‘fire’ (Þul Elds).  (c) Kock (NN §1233B) also construes a kenning for ‘fire’ but emends to hallmeins ‘of the hall-harm [FIRE]’ by analogy with other kennings such as lífgalli hallar ‘life-harm of the hall [FIRE]’ (Sturl Hrafn 11/4II), but a cpd ‘hall-harm’ would be ON hallarmein (hypermetrical) rather than hallmein. He takes this with Njǫrun as a kenning for ‘woman’ (cf. Meissner 417) and translates: Lider än den blonda kvinnan … brist på ädla stenar, är hon farligt dyr i alla fall ‘Even if the blonde woman suffers a lack of precious stones, she is nonetheless dangerously expensive’. This reading requires two emendations, and Njǫrun steina is elsewhere attested in this metrical position as a kenning for ‘woman’ (TorfiV Lv 1/6V (Harð 1)).

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