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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, 23 [Vol. 1, 838]

[7-8] í fastri fleindrífu ‘in the ceaseless missile-blizzard [BATTLE]’: The prepositional phrase is here grouped with the intercalary. Hkr 1893-1901, Skj B, Skald, Gordon (1957, 127), Ulset (1975, 92) and ÍS (but not Gaertner 1907 or Jón Helgason 1968, 48) instead group it with the main clause. Yet the pattern of devoting the third line of a helmingr and the beginning of the fourth to an intercalary is highly characteristic of Þormóðr’s verse (see Introduction to Þorm ÞorgdrV), and this arrangement lends symmetry and incisiveness to the structure of the helmingr. The somewhat critical hlífa sér ‘shelter themselves’ which is the entire point of the helmingr (so valiant was the king that, as the author of Fbr tells us, he bore neither shield nor coat of mail to battle) is thus lent force by its isolation in final position, and the placing of the reason why the men shelter themselves (the missile storm) in the intercalary ties the two clauses attractively. Of course, it may be that fleindrífu is no more than a kenning for ‘battle’ (as LP: fleindrífa has it), but the helmingr is richer if the cpd’s more literal sense is kept in mind.


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