Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Anonymous Lausavísur, 1. Lausavísa from Magnúss saga góða ok Haralds harðráða, 1 [Vol. 2, 813-14]

[7] skylja (m. gen. sg.) ‘of that lord’: This noun could technically modify hǫfuð ‘head(s)’ (l. 8): hirðmenn hafa hulit hǫfuð skylja, þess’s fremstr vas jǫfra ‘the retainers have covered the head of the lord, who was the foremost of princes’ (ll. 7-8; so NN §§1147, 2787, citing Beowulf ll. 445b-46a and notes; Beowulf 2008, 143). However, that construction is highly unlikely from a metrical point of view, because enjambement on a non-alliterating noun (skylja ‘of the lord’) and an alliterating noun (hǫfuð ‘head’) is avoided in dróttkvætt poetry (see Gade 1995a, 202-05). For the custom of covering one’s head in grief at the death of a ruler, see Sv (ÍF 30, 148): En hverju gegnir þetta er allir menn drepa niðr hǫfði eða bera klæði yfir hǫfuð sér ‘But of what avail is this, that all men hang their head or pull clothes over their heads’. See also Sigv Berv 12/5-8 and Egill Lv 16/5-8V). The H-Hr variant (hirðmenn skylja hafa hulit hǫfuð, þats fremst vas jǫfra ‘the retainers of the lord have covered the head, which was the foremost of princes’) must be an attempt at syntactic simplification.


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