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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, 4. Sexstefja, 28 [Vol. 2, 143-4]

[1] hveiti hræteina ‘the wheat of carrion-twigs [SPEARS]’: The base-word teinn ‘twig’ quite frequently forms kennings for weapons, e.g. with determinants referring, as here, to wounds, e.g. teinn unda Gísl Lv 1, and see LP: teinn. Terms for crops, in turn, frequently form kennings for ‘corpse’, qualified by a beast of battle word in the gen. case (see Note to l. 4 below). This cannot be the meaning here, for various reasons, and hveiti in the sense of showering grain may be an unparalleled variant on the pattern ‘shower, rain of the corpse or wounds’ referring to missiles or specifically spears (Skj B; Meissner 145; LP: hræteinn). If so, Haraldr is pictured either as an armour-clad fighting machine dispatching missiles, or as one shaking enemy missiles out of his armour. Björn Magnússon Ólsen and Finnur Jónsson in their eds of TGT (1884 and 1927 respectively) printed hrætrana ‘of the carrion-crane(s) [RAVEN(S)]’, which together with hveiti could produce a kenning for ‘corpse’, but this would not make sense in the st., and the abbreviation mark above <t> is not the usual abbreviation for <ar> but is better taken as <ei>.


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