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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. Anonymous Poems, 3. Óláfs drápa Tryggvasonar, 11 [Vol. 1, 1043]

[2, 3] gló-Lista ljótbnanda lautar ‘the gleaming Lista of the ugly edging of the dale [= Miðgarðsormr > GOLD]’: It is clear from the context that this is a gold-kenning, and equally that the meaningless ‘birnandir’ or ‘birnandiz’ must be emended. Three different gold-kennings have been proposed: two on the pattern ‘land of the serpent’, and one on the pattern ‘fire of the sea’. (a) The solution adopted above follows Kock (NN §2116), who proposes emending to brýnanda ‘of the edging’, gen. of an otherwise unattested participial noun brýnandi m., from brýna ‘to edge’, itself derived from brún f. ‘brow, edge, sea-shore’. The ‘ugly edging’ of the land (laut f. ‘dale’, a common land-heiti) is the Miðgarðsormr (or Jǫrmungandr), the encircling World Serpent (see SnE 2005, 27, 50), here standing for a generic ‘serpent’, and Lista stands for ‘land’ in general. The traditional land or lair of a serpent is gold (cf. other gold-kennings alluding to the Miðgarðsormr: Hallv Knútdr 5/2III leið holmfjǫturs ‘path of the islet-fetter’ and Anon Pl 50/5, 6, 7VII látr undins fránbaugs jarðar ‘ground of the twisted, shining ring of the earth’). The verbal element gló-, typically applied to gold (LP), gives an extra hint as to the meaning of this complex kenning. (b) Skj B emends ‘birnandiz’ to girðanda ‘girdling’; the ‘ugly girdling of the dale’ is again the Miðgarðsormr. While not implausible, this is a more radical emendation and yields a lectio facilior, so is not adopted here. (c) Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1832, 11) and Gullberg (1875) emend to brennandi m. or f. ‘burning one’, and take glólista as ‘gleaming edge’ (from listi m. ‘selvage, edge’); the ‘dale’s gleaming edge’ is the sea, and the ‘burning one of the sea’, gold. But listi m. is late and rare, while the earlier form is lista f. (CVC: lista), and brennandi meaning ‘fire’ lacks parallels (cf. ONP: brennandi m.).


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