Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 18. Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, 2. Vellekla, 4 [Vol. 1, 287]

[4] grynnilô bergs dverga ‘the shoal-wave of the rock of dwarfs [POEM]’: This is again a kenning for ‘poem’ (see Note to st. 1 [All]). (a) The interpretation given here follows from the reading of ms. B and avoids emendation. The basis for the kenning is the pattern ‘liquid of the dwarfs’ ( dverga). It is expanded by a verbal element grynni- from grynna(sk) ‘to shoal, become shallow’, a verbal derivative of ON grunnr ‘shallow’, which can be used impersonally (Fritzner: grynna 1). Hence grynnilô can be regarded as a variant of ModIcel. grunnfall, grunnsjór ‘wave that arises over a shoal’ (Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4, 276). Bergs refers to a skerry (flœðasker ‘skerry, a rock submerged at high tide’) on which the infuriated giant Suttungr maroons the dwarfs who had murdered his kinsmen (SnE 1998, I, 3) and from which they are only able to escape by relinquishing the mead of poetry to the giant. Compare LP: berg, where Finnur Jónsson points out that ModIcel. berg denotes a flat rock, as opposed to bjarg, which denotes a cliff. This seems to apply here as well, cf. also Marold (1994a, 473-4). (b) All other mss give ‘grymilá’, which requires emendation. Skj B and SnE 1998 follow a tentative suggestion by Konráð Gíslason (Nj 1875-8, II, 303) to emend ‘grymilá’ in mss R, Tˣ, U, W to geymilá ‘protective wave’. LP: geymilô explains the kenning bergs geymilô dverga as den i klipper opbevarede bølge, væske, der frelste dværgene, digterdrikken ‘the wave stored in the rocks, liquid that freed the dwarfs, mead of poetry’ (and cf. Krömmelbein 1983, 172). Apparently Finnur Jónsson assumes a dual function of geymi-, which he links both to the storage of the liquid and to the freeing of the dwarfs. Only the second function can be valid, however, because the dwarfs cannot be said to have stored the liquid in the rocks. (b) Kock (NN §390) interprets the mss’ ‘grymila’ as grymmilô ‘the fizzing liquid’, but no such verb as *grymma is attested in ON, and he is forced to rely on MHG and MLG evidence.

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