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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Anonymous Poems, Krákumál, 12 [Vol. 8, 740]

[1-4]: These lines cannot be convincingly construed without some emendation. (a) The present edn (with Wisén 1886-9, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 1905, Skj B and Skald) emends ‘bryn’ in most mss (l. 3) to brún f. nom. sg. agreeing with dögg (l. 2), hence ‘brown dew’. This is plausible as a heiti for ‘blood’, particularly when found in such close proximity to sverðum ‘swords’ (l. 2), recalling such blood-kennings as sverðdǫgg, hjǫrdǫgg ‘sword-dew’ and vápndǫgg ‘weapon-dew’, as Kock (NN §1276) notes. - ‘corpse’ and ‑hauka ‘hawks’, both in l. 4, are taken as a cpd kenning for ‘ravens/eagles’, separated by tmesis. Bleikan m. acc. sg. ‘pale’ (l. 4) in the mss is emended to bleika m. acc. pl. to qualify hauka. The adj. occurs with raven- or eagle-kennings elsewhere (Sigv Erlfl 1/2, 4I and ESk Geisl 43/3, 4VII). Principal variants on this solution (or parts of it) are as follows. (b) Ms. ‘bryn’ is emended to brýn by Rafn (1826), Pfeiffer (1860), the eds of CPB and Valdimar Ásmundarson (Krm 1891), who apparently take it as f. nom. sg. of adj. brýnn in the sense of ‘prompt, sudden, precipitate, gushing’, referring to dögg, evidently understood as dögg (benja) ‘dew (of wounds), blood’ (so Pfeiffer 1860, 221). (c) Finnur Jónsson (1893b; 1905; Skj B) shows by punctuation that he takes in l. 4 together with dögg in l. 2 by tmesis, giving the kenning nádögg ‘corpse-dew [BLOOD]’. (d) Kock (NN §1276) emends to nás, gen. sg. of nár ‘corpse’, hence ‘hawks of the corpse [RAVENS]’. (e) The mss’ bleikan is retained by Rafn (1826), Pfeiffer (1860), the eds of CPB, Wisén (1886-9) and Valdimar Ásmundarson (Krm 1891), all reading bleikan ná m. acc. sg. ‘a pale corpse’. Wisén takes this as the object of hjuggu ‘hewed’ in l. 1; and Pfeiffer’s and Valdimar’s punctuation may suggest that they do also. Wisén’s interpretation entails taking ll. 1 and 4 as a syntactic unit with the meaning, ‘We hewed with the sword a pale corpse for hawks’, and taking ll. 2-3 as a further parenthetic unit. However, it would be exceptional in Krm for l. 1, constituting the poem’s refrain, not to be syntactically independent. Rafn (and seemingly the eds of CPB) take bleikan ná as the object of an unexpressed phrase such as feldum vér ‘we felled, put to death’.


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