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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]

[4] Yggjar valbygg ‘the barley of the falcon of Yggr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’) RAVEN > CORPSES]’: (a) This interpretation assumes an inverted kenning which fits the common pattern of corpse-kenning with a ‘beast of battle’ term as determinant (cf. the example in l. 4 of this st. and two further in st. 29; also Meissner 203-4). (b) Alternatively, one could read valbygg Yggjar ‘the slaughter-barley of Yggr <= Óðinn> [CORPSES]’ (so Skj B, tentatively, and Kock, NN §2218, who takes the kenning as a reference to blood). However, even though the barley of Óðinn, the battle-god and lord of the slain, might be taken as ‘corpse’, there are few or no parallels (Meissner 202 proposes one), and val- is strictly redundant (cf. hræ- ‘corpse’ in st. 30/4), though it would reinforce the idea of the slain, and could pun on the word valr adj. ‘Frankish, foreign’ (cf. Meissner 202) and possibly on valr ‘falcon’, which is common in raven-kennings (cf. interpretation (a)). In either interpretation, the n. nom. sg. bygg ‘barley’ must be assumed to be used collectively, hence the kenning referent is given as pl. ‘corpses’; and the ‘grain’ terms ǫrð ‘corn’ and barri ‘barley’ are used similarly in st. 29/1, 4.


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