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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 46. Hárekr í Þjóttu, Lausavísur, 1 [Vol. 1, 808]

[1-4]: The helmingr clearly declares that the skald will travel by sea rather than on foot, and contains a ship-kenning of which ‑mari (dat. sg.) ‘steed’ in l. 3 is the base-word, aptly matched by the verb ríða ‘ride’, which takes a dat. object. Rínleygs ‘Rhine-flame’ in l. 2 is a stereotypical gold-kenning, but it is not certain whether it supplies part of the necessary determinant of the ship-kenning, and láðs ‘land’ and leiðar ‘way’ in l. 3 are problematic. Neither of the two main analyses of the helmingr is wholly convincing. (a) The analysis above, which avoids emendation, is essentially that proposed by Kock (NN §773; Skald) and taken up in ÍF 27, ÍF 29 and Hkr 1991. Láð Rínleygs ‘land of Rhine-flame [GOLD]’ is taken as a kenning, albeit unparalleled, for ‘sea’, on the basis that since ‘gold’ can be ‘flame of the sea/water’ (as in Rínleygs itself), the sea can be ‘land of gold’. This sea-kenning then acts as determinant for dynmari ‘noise-steed, resounding steed’ to represent ‘ship’, hence lǫngum dynmari láðs Rínleygs ‘long resounding steed of the land of Rhine-flame [GOLD > SEA > SHIP]’. Leiðar (f. gen. sg.) is then taken by Kock as the equivalent of leiðangr, a seaborne expedition, specifying the ship-kenning as a warship. Kock compares Tindr Hákdr 4/7 leiðar langra skeiða, which he takes to mean ‘of long expedition ships’. A variation on this analysis is to take leiðar as an adverbial gen. sg. of leið in the sense ‘way, path’ hence ‘on my way’, qualifying ganga ‘go, walk’ (cf. NS §141), and this is adopted above. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: leiðir) emended leiðar to leiðir which, tentatively interpreted as ‘hater’, yields a man-kenning leiðir Rínleygs ‘hater of Rhine-flame [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’. This functions as an apostrophe, presumably to King Óláfr, who is present in Fsk and ÓH-Hkr but not in ÓHLeg (Context above). Finnur (LP: dynmarr) construed dyn- ‘noise, noisy, roaring’ in dynmari, with láðs ‘of the land’, hence láðs dynmari ‘steed of the land of noise [(lit. ‘noise-steed of the land’) SEA > SHIP]’, though this depends on equating dyn(r) with terms for waves or the surging sea, such as brim (cf. Meissner 93).


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