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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Snæbjǫrn, Lausavísur, 2 [Vol. 3, 379]

[All]: This stanza has been much discussed with regard to syntax and meaning. (a) The present edn adopts the following interpretation: The subject of the sentence is máli buðlunga ‘the confidant of rulers’; the verbs are lætr styðja ‘lets support’; the object of lætr is hlemmisverð stáls ‘the powerful sword of the stern [RUDDER]’ (see Note to l. 2, 3); the object of styðja is húflangan skæ stjórnviðjar ‘the long-hulled horse of the steering-tie [SHIP]’ (see Note to l. 1) and styðja ‘support’ is completed by the prepositional phrase við harðri dúfu ‘against the heavy wave’. (b) Skj B offers the following interpretation: Buðlunga máli lætr húflangan stjórviðjar skæ styðja stáls hlemmisverð við harðri dúfu, translated as Kongens ven lader det langsidede skib støde til den hårde bølge med sin svære forstavns top ‘The king’s friend lets the long-sided ship thrust at the hard wave with the top of its heavy stem’. With regard to the meaning of the verb styðja Finnur Jónsson (LP: styðja 2) refers to Vsp 21/3-4 (NK 5) er Gullveigo | geirom studdo ‘as they ran Gullveig through with spears’ and Bragi Rdr 6/1-3 Støkkvir flaums stála lét mjǫk styðja niðja Gjúka ‘The impeller of the eddy of steel [BATTLE > WARRIOR = Jǫrmunrekkr] caused the descendants of Gjúki <legendary king> [= Hamðir and Sǫrli] to be greatly pressed’. (c) Kock (NN §574) rightly points out that the prep. við is superfluous if the verb styðja means ‘run through’ and he is also right that hlemmisverð cannot be a dat. He offers the following interpretation: Stáls buðlunga máli lætr stjórnviðjar hlemmisverð styðja húflangan skæ við harðri dúfu which he translates as Vapenhövdingars förtrogne låter starka styrbandssvärdet stödja sidobordens långa fåle emot våldsam våg ‘The confidant of weapon-chieftains lets the strong sword of the steering-tie support the long foal of the ship-planks against heavy sea’. That interpretation is unsatisfactory for two reasons. First of all, it is highly unusual for a term for ‘ruler’ (here, buðlunga ‘of rulers’, l. 2) to be qualified by a term for ‘weapon’ (here, stáls ‘of the weapon’, l. 2). Second, according to this interpretation the base-word skæ ‘horse’ (l. 4) is deprived of its determinant stjórnviðjar ‘of the steering-tie’ (l. 1). Kock attempts to solve this problem by extracting the first element húf- ‘hull’ from the cpd adj. húflangan ‘long-hulled’ and taking it as the determinant in the ship-kenning, as is shown by his translation sidobordens långa fåle ‘the long foal of the ship-planks’. This would involve the tmesis húf- langan ‑skæ, but such a construction is unprecedented in skaldic poetry.


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