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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Steinarr, Poem about a woman, 1 [Vol. 3, 384]

[3]: The ms. paradosis of the line, sjá hǫfumk velti stoð stiltan (or similar), is unsatisfactory on metrical grounds: the line is hypermetric and the alliteration irregular, falling on the second element in veltistoð, which the mss treat as a cpd (evident from the syntax even though it is written as two words in all mss except ), whereas the rule is that alliteration falls on the first stressed element in a cpd (Kuhn 1983, 49; cf. NN §2314, also SnE 1998, I, 192). (a) Both of these irregularities can be eliminated if from hǫfumk (= hefir mik), the element most suspect as extraneous (guaranteed by neither skothending nor alliteration), we excise hǫf and reassign -umk. The apparent cpd veltistoð or viltistoð can then be construed not as a cpd but as a succession of finite verb (3rd pers. sg. pret.) + noun (nom. sg., subject of this verb). The possibilities for the verb (with enclitic -umk added) are veltumk, véltumk and villtumk. Of these, veltumk ‘rolled, turned me’ does not yield a contextually appropriate sense. Of the two other candidates, villtumk ‘misled me’ yields good sense and collocates well with draumar (cf. NN §2314, adducing GSúrs Lv 17/1V (Gísl 20)) but is attested solely by R. The remaining candidate, véltumk, would most plausibly presuppose the weak verb véla in the sense ‘trick, betray’ (Fritzner: véla 1; AEW: véla 2): the other main sense of véla, ‘deal with, arrange, manage’ (Fritzner: véla 2; AEW: véla 1), is less readily accommodated to the context. Disagreement between mss on forms of véla and villa is seen also in Anon Sól 63/3VII and Hárb 37/4 and is not unnatural in view of the graphological similarity and the partial overlap in semantic range between the two verbs. The reading véltumk is tentatively adopted in this edn, but there is no decisive reason for rejecting villtumk; it is true that villti would result in aðalhending rather than skothending in this odd line but the preference for skothendingar in odd lines is by no means a fixed rule. Possibly the R reading represents a scribal attempt to ‘improve’ on the hending. This analysis enables us to account for hǫf(umk) as a substitute or gloss for the proper finite verb in l. 3, the verb hafa being a normal syntactic accompaniment to the p. p., whereas vélti is not; influence from hafa in l. 1 may also be a factor. The form véltumk would equate to vélti mik, where (as noted above) the verb is 3rd pers. sg. pret. with stoð as subject. This active-voice form is to be distinguished from the morphologically identical m. v. For instances involving the cliticised acc. case cf. Gamlkan Has 17/3-4VII and Hfr Lv 5/6V (Hallfr 8). For the morphologically identical dat. case cf. Bragi Rdr 7/3 and 12/3. The participial adj. stilltan can be construed as the complement of cliticised mik, where stilltan is p. p. of stilla ‘stop, check, restrain, control, moderate, arrange, sneak up on, entrap’ (CVC, Fritzner, LP: stilla; SnE 1998, II, 403: stilla). For a discussion of the widely varying senses of this verb see Note to ÞjóðA Lv 11/2II. Faulkes’s (1987, 115) ‘put me in the lurch’ in his translation of this stanza appears to be contextually determined; a gloss of ‘thwarted’ (based on ‘checked, restrained’) fits better with the dictionary glosses and with the citations in ONP: stilla. A construction véltumk stiltan ‘tricked me [so that I was] thwarted’, lit. ‘tricked me thwarted’, would be comparable with that seen in Akv 40/2 (NK 247) móðan hafði hann sic druccit ‘he had drunk himself into a state of exhaustion’, lit. ‘he had drunk himself exhausted’; in both instances of this unusual construction the adj. and p. p. respectively denote result (cf. NS §93 Anm.). This use of véltumk could represent an extension from the use of vinna and ráða with past participles to denote result (on which see NS §245). (b) Another possibility would be to omit -umk entirely, yielding: sjá stoð straumtungls vélti stilltan ‘this support of the stream-star tricked the entrapped one’, where mik would be implied by stilltan, but that would weaken the sense of result or product inherent in the verb. (c) Broadly similar to the solution proposed in this edn is that proposed by Kock (NN §2314): mik villti stoð stilltan | straumtungls translated as mig har, illa ställd, klenodens bärarinna vilselett ‘the bearer of treasure has deluded me, ill-placed’; but he excises sjá ‘this’ (surely essential to the rhetoric) and ‑umk so as to insert mik and appears to understand stilltan as loosely appositional rather than syntactically tied to the verb. In either solution the line scans as Type XE3: for a list of secure instances see Gade 1995a, 85-7, with close parallels (for both metrics and genre) in KormǪ Lv 5/7V and 21/7V (Korm 5, 23).


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