Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Lilja, 92 [Vol. 7, 666-7]

[8] ór völundarhúsi ‘out of the house of Vǫlundr, labyrinth’: The Gmc. hero Vǫlundr was associated with the classical Daedalus, who was in turn associated with the labyrinth. The term domus Dedali ‘house of Daedalus’, gave rise to the Icel. term völundarhús (Granlund 1974). Cf. Stjórn: laborintho. er sumir menn kalla Vo᷎lundar hús ‘labyrinth, which some men call Vǫlund’s house’ (Unger 1862, 85). While the extended metaphor in this st. is a conventional inexpressibility topos (it is impossible to praise Mary adequately), the formula völundarhús can also be regarded as an original designation of poetry. The poet’s comments in the sts that follow suggest that he regards the traditional skaldic st. as a labyrinth: it holds the delight of compressed symmetry, but can also be a confining trap (for both skald and hearer/reader), which frustrates movement forward.

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