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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Ragnars saga loðbrókar 10 (Ragnarr loðbrók, Lausavísur, 6) — Ragnarr [Vol. 8, 644]

[5] sjá dýra dagrýfir ‘this breaker of the light of hands [(lit. ‘light-breaker of hands’) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’: This interpretation of the kenning involves no emendation. Kock’s interpretation (NN §§181, 2367; Skald) as dýra dagrýfir ‘breaker of the life of animals [(lit. ‘life-breaker of animals’) HUNTSMAN]’ involves no emendation either, but has the twofold disadvantage that kennings for ‘huntsman’ are nowhere else attested in the skaldic corpus, and that examples of dagr ‘day’ in the meaning ‘life’ are similarly hard to find, whether as an element in a kenning or elsewhere. It is clear that rýfir ‘breaker’ is an agent noun formed from rjúfa, rýfa ‘break, split’. Kock’s interpretation (‘huntsman’), formed by analogy with fjǫrspillir bǫlverðungar Belja ‘the life-destroyer of the evil-causing troop of Beli [GIANTS > = Þórr]’ (Þjóð Haustl 18/1, 3III) (NN §181) is followed by Örnólfur Thorsson (Ragn 1985). The interpretation offered here, ‘generous man’, as well as avoiding emendation, has the advantage of being consistent with what seems to be said of Ragnarr’s son Sigurðr in st. 9/7-8. It may be defended on the grounds that dagr m. ‘day’ can mean by extension ‘light’ in kennings for ‘gold’, where it appears not infrequently as a base-word (see Meissner 233), and that dýra may be understood here as gen. pl. not of dýr n. ‘animal’ but of dýr n. (?) (LP: dýr 2), listed as a heiti for ‘hand’ in Þul Á hendi 1/2III, thus enabling dagr dýra ‘light of hands’ to be interpreted as a gold-kenning, here forming part of the inverted kenning dýra dagrýfir ‘breaker of the light of hands (lit. ‘light-breaker of hands)’, i.e. a breaker-up of gold, a generous man. Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 202), following advice personally communicated by Bugge, also arrives at the interpretation ‘generous man’, but as a result of emending, no doubt for metrical reasons, to dagrífr ‘daylight-tearer’, with ‑rífr taken as an agent noun formed from rífa ‘tear’, and dýr understood as ‘hand’ on the basis just described. Hence: ‘tearer-up of the daylight of hands [(lit. ‘daylight-tearer of hands’) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), followed by Guðni Jónsson (FSGJ), emends to dýja dagrýrir ‘diminisher of the daylight of swamps [(lit. ‘daylight-diminisher of swamps’) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’ (cf. LP: dagr 1 and LP: dý and rýrir), where the gold-kenning should be viewed as one of the ‘wave-fire’ type, cf. the Note to 9/6, above, as also in the case of Bugge’s further suggestion, referred to by Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 202-3), of Dyrnar dagrífr ‘tearer-up of the daylight of the river [(lit. ‘daylight-tearer of the river’) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’, Dyrn, Durn f. being a river-name (LP: durn and dyrn; Þul Á 3/1III; SnE 1998 I, 125, II, 453; CVC: Dyrn).


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