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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. 28. Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (biog. vol. 1), Hákonardrápa, 2 [Vol. 3, 216]

[5-8]: The crucial issue here is the gender of benfúr ‘wound-fire’ in l. 8 (ms. R’s ben fyr spoils the aðalhending and must be rejected). (a) If the second element is taken as (an inflected form of) fúrr m. ‘fire’, as is conventional, it must be acc. or dat. sg., so it cannot be the subject of rjóðask ‘are reddened’. The interpretation in the Text, that of Faulkes (SnE 1998), solves this by taking benfúr as instr. with verða rjóðask (ll. 5, 7), where rjóðask is an inf. (b) Following Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 114-15), Reichardt (1928, 62-4) suggests that fúr is n. (and so nom. pl.). He also adopts C’s fyr in l. 8, and reads: Þaðan verða Sǫrla fǫt fyrða fyr méilskúrum; fregnk gǫrla þat; bjǫrt benfúr rjóðask í blóði ‘As a result the mail-shirts of the warriors are exposed to missiles; I learn clearly of that; bright swords are reddened with blood’. Reichardt’s reading is undeniably attractive (NN §1834 and Davidson follow him), but there are several problems with it: ms. C’s ‘fvr fyrir’ is unsupported by the other mss and looks like dittography; the identity of disyllabic méil with monosyllabic mél is questionable (see Note to l. 8 below); and there are a few unambiguous instances of fúrr m. but none, save the one Reichardt posits in the present verse, of fúr n. (c) Skj B takes l. 8 as part of the stef, and so does not include it in the syntax of the helmingr (ll. 5-7 are interpreted as above): this is unsatisfactory.


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