Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 46. Hárekr í Þjóttu, Lausavísur, 2 [Vol. 1, 810]

[2-3] eik læbaugs ‘the oak of the deceit-ring [SEA > SHIP]’: The context demands a ship-kenning with eik ‘oak’ as base-word, and læbaugs appears to be a sea-kenning, though it is unclear how it works (so Meissner 95). (a) The second element -baugs ‘ring, encircler’ would plausibly form part of a determinant meaning ‘sea’, if joined with a word meaning ‘land’, cf. eybaugr m. ‘island-ring [SEA]’ (LP: eybaugr). - in its usual senses ‘deceit, harm, poison’ does not fit semantically, yet is guaranteed by the rhyme and alliteration, and therefore is left to stand here. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: læbaugr) may have been correct to surmise that this is a lost term for ‘land’ or a proper name, perhaps for an island. (b) Kock (NN §1125, followed by ÍF 27, ÍF 29 and Hkr 1991) suggested that is ‘poison’ here, and læbaugs ‘poison-ring’ a term for a serpent, hence perhaps a dragon-prow, whose eik ‘oak’ is a dragon-ship. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 27, following this, compares Bkrepp Magndr 4/2II vallbaugr ‘field-ring [SNAKE]’. He also cites Hfr ErfÓl 14/2 læsíkr ‘poison-whitefish [SNAKE]’, which refers to the ship Ormr inn langi, but this is structurally different and, as a substitute for a proper name, a special case. It is also problematic in itself, and interpreting as ‘land’ is among the possible solutions (see Note).

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