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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 2. Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa, 4 [Vol. 2, 187-9]

[6] varta ‘prow’: Ms. ‘vda’ with superscript ‘r’ above the ‘v’ could be expanded to normalised verða or virða, but the known senses of these do not fit the context. The syntax seems to demand a nom. sg. noun. Varta is the most widely accepted suggestion (first made in CPB II, 592). Varta occurs in Þul Skipa 8/6III (with variant vortr) among heiti for parts of a ship. It occupies the same metrical l. there as brandar ‘(decorated) prows’, and Falk (1912, 45) held that varta too meant ‘prow’. This conjecture yields good sense in the present context, and it is perhaps supported by the occurrence of ON varta ‘wart’ and geirvarta ‘nipple (of a man)’. A word meaning ‘wart, nipple’ could, because of its reference to a projection, have developed the metaphorical sense ‘prow’, and other anatomical terms have nautical applications, e.g. hals ‘neck, part of the forecastle’, hlýr ‘cheek, bows’, or brjóst ‘breast’, which means ‘prow’ in Refr Ferðv 3/4III. See further Whaley 1998, 151 n. 6.


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