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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. Anonymous Lausavísur, 3. Lausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla, 1níð poem about Harald blátǫnn [Vol. 1, 1073]

[1] mó Maurnis ‘the heath of Maurnir [?]’: This is a tantalizing phrase, in which Maurnis (‘mꜹrnis’ Kˣ, F, ‘mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘mꜹrnar’ 291) is elusive and could be acc. sg. either of mór m. ‘heath, moor’ or of the horse-name Mór m. (LP: 2. Mór). (a) Given the general context of níð and the sexual insult in ll. 5-8, the most credible explanation is ‘mare’s rump’ (merarlend), suggested by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26). He assumes a connection with Mǫrnir/Maurnir, who is invoked in Anon (Vǫlsa) 4-12 in the formula þiggi Maurnir þetta blæti ‘may Maurnir receive this offering’, as the horse phallus Vǫlsi is passed round. Maurnir therefore seems in Vǫlsa to be a deity, probably phallic (see further Note to Anon Vǫls 4/5). Bjarni also cites the opinion of Olsen (1917, II, 656) that mǫrnir is a (horse-)phallus. The use of topographical terms (here mór ‘heath’) to refer to the female genitals is paralleled: see Clunies Ross (1973b, 85, n. 32). (b) Emendation to Mǫrnar or Marnar (f. gen. sg.) ‘of Mǫrn’ was proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 11, 35-6) and adopted by Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson (Nj 1875-8, II, 228-9) and Skj B. Mǫrn is a river-name, for which identification with the Marne has been suggested (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: Mǫrn), and it would provide a reference to water, forming a ship-kenning with mó(r) ‘steed’. This would work well in context, yet the mss agree on a root vowel spelt <ꜹ>, not <a>, and corruption of so natural a kenning would be hard to explain. Further, the sense of sparn would need to be ‘travelled’, though it normally means ‘kick, press hard with the feet’ (see Fritzner: sperna). (c) Kock (NN §526) largely agrees with (b), but takes as m. acc. sg. ‘heath, moor’, hence ‘heath of the water’, presumably ‘sea’.


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