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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Bragi inn gamli Boddason, 1. Ragnarsdrápa, 5 [Vol. 3, 35]

[2] sá golfhǫlkvis ‘the vat of the floor-steed [HOUSE > BED]’: Some commentators (e.g. Dronke 1969, 211-12) have understood as the 3rd pers. pret. sg. of the verb sjá ‘see’, but this requires emendation of ‑hǫlkvis to ‑hǫlkvi and adoption of R’s and ’s fylkir ‘ruler’ as subject of the clause. A majority of scholars, including the present ed., understand as acc. sg. of sár m. ‘vessel, tub, vat’, forming the base-word of a tvíkent bed-kenning. Golfhǫlkvir ‘floor-steed’ is then a house-kenning (cf. Meissner 430-1), referring to Jǫrmunrekkr’s hall. Hǫlkvir occurs as a horse-heiti in several contexts (e.g. Akv 30/7, SnE 1998, I, 89, Anon Kálfv 4/5, where it refers to the hero Hǫgni’s horse). Kock (NN §1916) regards hǫlkvir as a ship-heiti, and it is possible that the word could have had both senses (AEW: hǫlkvir). Bed-kennings are uncommon in skaldic verse, and sár, with its probably mundane associations, is never used elsewhere in the corpus (see LP: sár). Bragi is likely to have chosen it at least partly a) for metrical reasons (Gade 1995a, 29-30); b) because it extends the metaphor of the verb gyrða ‘encircle’ (with a band or hoop); and c) because it connotes a vessel containing liquid, the implicit parallel being with Jǫrmunrekkr’s maimed and bleeding body, shorn of arms and legs. Marold (1994c, 569-71), however, sees the referent of sár as Jǫrmunrekkr’s sleeping chamber, formed from planks of wood.


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