Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson (biog. vol. 1), Bersǫglisvísur, 15 [Vol. 2, 27]

[7, 8] haukey Haralds ‘Haraldr’s hawk-isle [= Norway]’: The meaning of this phrase is not immediately transparent, although there can be no doubt that it denotes the country of Norway. Munch (1853, 101), following the prose in ÓTOdd, suggested that it referred to the annual taxes due to the Dan. king Haraldr blátǫnn ‘Blue-tooth’ from the Norw. Hákon jarl Sigurðarson (20 hawks; see Theodoricus, MHN 11; McDougall and McDougall 1998, 62 n. 45). Finnur Jónsson (LP: haukey) connects the first part of the cpd haukey with an adj. haukr ‘splendid’ (LP: 2. haukr adj.), and gives the translation ‘splendid island’ (i.e. ‘Norway’), tacitly equating Haraldr with the Norw. king Haraldr hárfagri rather than with Haraldr blátǫnn. Kock (NN §655) accepts that identification, but he rejects the translation ‘splendid island’ and suggests that ‘hawk-isle’ referred to the lofty mountainous regions of Norway (‘where hawks perch’; see also Steinn Óldr 6/1). That interpretation seems preferable, because the reference to Haraldr blátǫnn makes no sense in the present context, and the existence of an adj. haukr ‘splendid’ is tenuous at best. It is interesting, however, that Sigvatr refers to Norway as an ‘island’.

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