Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, 4. Sexstefja, 20 [Vol. 2, 134-5]

[6, 7, 8] troll brutu hrís í hleypikjóla hæls ‘trolls broke brushwood in the speeding ships of the heel [SHOES]’: Troll here seems to be a rather general, even tongue-in-cheek, reference to supernatural beings, such as the ones invoked in various oaths and curses, usually consigning enemies to the trolls, e.g. HólmgB Lv 11/5V, KormǪ Lv 44/8V, VígVest Lv l. 2V. The kenning hleypikjóla hæls designates a shoe using a term for ‘ship’ as base-word qualified by a determinant referring to the foot. This is unusual but not unparalleled: see Meissner 434. The idea seems to be that trolls break off twigs of brushwood and stuff it in the shoes of Haraldr’s enemies to prevent their progress, hence cause trouble generally (so Andersson and Gade 2000, 477). There are no close parallels to this idiom (brjóta hrís, attested in Fritzner: hrís 2, is literal, not figurative), though LP: brjóta 5 compares another figurative usage from Þjóðolfr, brjóta sér byrðar, lit. ‘break off a burden for oneself’, hence ‘make difficulties for oneself’, st. 25/5, 8.

references

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