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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 49. Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld (biog. vol. 5), Lausavísur, 10 [Vol. 1, 823]

[4] fránǫluns ‘of the flashing fish [SERPENT]’: Ǫlunn does not occur in prose, and its meaning is uncertain, but its occurrence as a fish-heiti in Þul Fiska 1/7III and in certain types of kenning point to a fish; some sources take it as mackerel (see LP: ǫlunn). Fránǫlunn is not a standard kenning for ‘serpent’, since the first element is adjectival and decorative, whereas one would expect a nominal determinant referring to land, hence ‘fish of the land’. It is as though merkr ‘of the forest/land’ is needed both for this function (to make a fish into a serpent) and to provide the base-word for the gold-kenning, though such a dual role is exceptional. Kock (Skald; NN §710C) would emend to frón- ‘land’, despite the disruption to the hending.

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