Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur, 6 [Vol. 2, 581-2]

[2] fránstalls ‘of snake-support [GOLD]’: Previous eds have found the interpretation of this difficult. Orkn 1887 emends the reading of R702ˣ to fránstall, but does not explain the word. Skj B (followed in Orkn 1913-16) emends to faldstall ‘support of the headdress’ i.e. ‘head’ and construes konur feldu faldstall... ‘women wrapped their heads...’ which fits the context, but the echoing of feld- and fald- (with the same semantic range) is neither fortunate nor supported by the mss. Along the same lines, Kock (NN §2062) also considers the simpler emendation to framstall which he imagines could mean ‘forehead’, before rejecting it for an interpretation which keeps fránstalls. He suggests that it refers to a lysande (fornämt) säte ‘shining (distinguished) seat’ and that fránstalls konur are analogous to hásætismenn ‘people who sit in the high seat’, but this sits ill with the connotations of the first element, which is often associated with the shining skin of snakes (LP: fránn, adj.). ÍF 34 (followed by Bibire 1988) keeps the reading of Flat and adopts Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s interpretation (LP 1860: framstall) of it as pars rei anterior ‘the front part of something’ and therefore pars potior et dignior, making the women matronæ honoratiores ‘high-ranking’ (as translated by Bibire). The most likely explanation is that fránstall is a gold-kenning (for fránn as a snake-heiti see SnE 1848-87, II, 458) and that Rǫgnvaldr is contrasting the more usual headgear of fine ladies with the mare’s tail worn by Ragna.

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