Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Brúðkaupsvísur, 23 [Vol. 7, 545-6]

[4] grennir ‘feeder’: The base-word of a typical warrior-kenning, with the determinant filled by a word for a bird of prey or carrion bird (LP: grennir 2), which is usually qualified by a term for battle or blood in order to form a raven- or eagle-kenning. It is possible, however, to understand the base-word grennir in the kenning grennir gjóða ‘feeder of ospreys’ in a different sense, ‘the one who makes the ospreys thinner’ (cf. LP: grenna 1, grennir 1), that is, an ineffectual warrior who does not serve the carrion up to the birds of prey. That interpretation is more in line with what we know about the young man, who appears to be peaceful and devout, rather than a great warrior. The men following him to the wedding-feast might not have regarded his peaceful nature as a good quality. The poet’s word-play could be unintentionally ironic, but it offers an interesting and humorous interpretation.

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