Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson, 12. Lausavísur, 9 [Vol. 1, 710]

[4] snytrask ‘grow wise’: The verb is found nowhere else, but Kock (NN §2010A) rightly points out that it is presupposed by the agent noun snytrir ‘one who makes wise’ (LP: snytrir). The reading letjask ‘to become unwilling or slow’ chosen by Konráð Gíslason (1892, 39) and by Finnur Jónsson (Skj B, and so also hnetr for hnytr, for the sake of the hending) may in fact be cleverer, but it is found only in Tóm, whose readings for this stanza are generally unreliable. It is easy to explain why snytrask should have been altered to letjask (to rhyme with hnetr once it replaced the older hnytr), but it would not be easy to explain the reverse alteration. What Sigvatr seems to mean, with high irony, is that some day he will learn to compose verses commensurate with the king’s gifts to him. Jón Skaptason (1983, 192) takes the meaning to be ‘I shall not soon become wise (or: lazy) from praising [you]’. Poole (2005a, 273), largely in agreement with Kock, translates, ‘it will be a long time before I devote more art to praise poetry’, and it is quite possible that this is what is meant.

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