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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 72 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur, 25) — Gestumblindi [Vol. 8, 438]

[All]: Heiðrekr’s response is (Heiðr 1960, 37): þar fanntu hest dauðan á ísjaka ok orm dauðan á hestinum, ok rak þat allt saman eptir ánni ‘there you found a dead horse on an ice-floe and a dead snake on the horse, and all together that drifted along the river’ (the ms. reads ǫrn ‘eagle’ for orm ‘snake’, but this is clearly an error). The H redaction reaches the same solution in more words, but both appear to overinterpret the riddle: the jór ‘steed’ is the ice-floe, the means of conveyance for the moldbúi foldar ‘soil-dweller of the earth’, rather than a literal dead horse, and so ‘a dead serpent on an ice-floe’ solves the riddle by itself (Heiðr 1873, 358 n.). The U redaction offers (Heiðr 1924, 137): þar fanstu stein; hann mun hafa leigid i isiaka; steirn er molldbui; þetta muntu hafa rekid [emended to sied reka in Heiðr 1672, 150] allt samann a vatni; þar voru badir blindir og daudir ‘There you found a stone; it must have lain on an ice-floe; a stone is a soil-dweller; this you must have driven [‘seen driven’ with Verelius’ emendation] all together on the water; there were both the blind and the dead’. Though disappointingly mundane compared to the other redactions, this alternative admittedly addresses the description provided in the riddle.


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