Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur, 7 [Vol. 2, 583-4]

[1-4]: As Bibire (1988, 229) notes, ‘Overall interpretation of the verse is uncontroversial, although the two major kennings in the first half-strophe are in any interpretation difficult’. The interpretation here largely follows that of Kock (Skald; NN §489). Skj B links hanga with galga and tangar to give a hand-kenning (hanga-galga tangar translated as den nedhængende hånd ‘the dangling hand’) and emends ms. rjúpu ‘ptarmigan’ to a verb, réttum lit. ‘we straighten’, which, taken together with Grímnis sylg, gives an intercalated statement jeg gör et lige vers ‘I make a straight verse’ (presumably ironic). While protesting at Finnur’s methods, Kock (NN §489) also comes up with a solution that refers to the composition of poetry: he takes hanga ‘of hanged ones’ with Grímnis and assumes an otherwise unrecorded verb rjúpum to give jag rycker åt mig gudadrycken ‘I pull the divine drink towards me’. Finnbogi Guðmundsson (in ÍF 34, following a suggestion by Ólafur M. Ólafsson) takes hanga with ms. rjúpu and construes hanga rjúpu. According to that interpretation, rjúpu hanga ‘of the ptarmigan of the hanged one [WOMAN]’ is an obscene pun, in that gás ‘goose’ (and thereby any f. bird-word) can refer to the vagina (cf. Fritzner: gás), while ‘hanged one’ is a reference to a penis. The problem with that construction is that ‘the vagina of the penis’ cannot be a kenning for ‘woman’, since ‘vagina’ in itself would be a pars pro toto expression for ‘woman’ and ‘penis’ is not a determinant.

references

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