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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 18. Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, 2. Vellekla, 26 [Vol. 1, 315]

[5, 6] valserkjar veðrhirði ‘the keeper of the weather of the shirt of the slain [(lit. ‘weather-keeper of the slain-shirt’) MAIL-SHIRT > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl]’: (a) Normally hirðir ‘keeper, protector, owner’ appears in connection with weapons, precious objects or the like, rather than with battle (see LP: 1. hirðir; cf. also Fritzner: hirða). For this reason most interpreters (Fms 12; Finnur Jónsson 1891a, 176; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 160; LP: veðrhirði) reverse the order of the kennings that form the determinant: hirði serkjar valveðrs ‘keeper of the shirt of the slain-weather [BATTLE > MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIOR]’. (b) This edn (with Vell 1865, 73; ÓT 1892, 378; Hkr 1991) leaves the kenning unaltered, understanding hirðir in the sense of nærir ‘nourisher’, cf. Glúmr Gráf 6/3 nærir naddskúrar ‘nourisher of the point-shower [BATTLE > WARRIOR]’. (c) In ÍF 26 veðr is rendered as a ‘ram’ charging the mail-shirt (valserkjar ‘of the shirt of the slain’), and this results in a sword-kenning which is conjoined to hirðir ‘owner’ to form a warrior-kenning ‘owner of the sword’. But this is unlikely because an animal name used as the base-word of a sword-kenning is always that of a harmful, aggressive animal such as a wolf, hound or bear (Meissner 155).


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