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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Halli stirði, Flokkr, 1 [Vol. 2, 338-9]

[3-4] hrafngœlir sparn hǫfn hæli ‘the raven-gladdener [WARRIOR] kicked against the harbour with his keel’: Kock (NN §3092) and Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 28, 159) explain hæli as a reference to part of the keel, the kjalarhæll ‘keel-heel’, rejecting the explanation in Skj B, where langskipa ‘of the longships’ (l. 4) is taken to govern stǫfnum ‘with the stems’ (l. 4). It is also possible, however, that the gen. pl. noun was interpreted as apo koinou, i.e. as qualifying both the preceding and the following noun. Also at play is a metaphor from horsemanship. The exchange of diction between sea and land transportation seen here is bolder than the norm and evidently led to confusion in H-Hr, where the entire l. hrafngœlir sparn hæli ‘the raven-gladdener kicked with his keel’ is replaced by a conventional ‘raven’ topos, hrafn (‘har’ H) gelr hátt yfir heila ‘the raven screams loudly over [men’s] heads’.


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