Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 12. Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa, 6 [Vol. 1, 164]

[5-8]: Remarkable is the construction of two kennings upon the base-word Njǫrðr (nom. sg.) and Nirði (dat. sg.) ‘Njǫrðr <god>’, though cf. a similar use of Baldr in Hharð Lv 5II, continued in ÞjóðA Lv 3II. The first kenning refers to Hákon, the second to his slain opponent, Guthormr Eiríksson. The detailed analysis of the helmingr, and particularly of l. 8 sunda ‘of the inlets’, however, presents difficulties. (a) It is assumed here, with most previous eds (including ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991, with differences of detail) that gen. pl. sunda forms a blood-kenning with one or other of the two kennings in the helmingr. In the construal shown above, the sword-kenning is the determinant of the blood-kenning. A variation on this is to read Njǫrðr raddar sunda hámána nadds ‘Njǫrðr of the voice of the inlets of the high moon of the spear [SHIELD > BLOOD > BATTLE > WARRIOR]’ where the shield-kenning is the determinant of the blood-kenning, but this is not a known pattern (cf. the blood-kennings in Meissner 204-5). Neither solution is unproblematic, since the battle-kenning in l. 6 and the shields-kenning in l. 7 are both logically complete without the addition of sunda ‘of the inlets’. (b) Finnur Jónsson’s analysis (1884, 90; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; tacit in Skj B; LP: hômáni, valbrandr; cf. Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1886, 192) involves two cases of tmesis: há-raddar ‘loud voice’ and val-sunda ‘corpse-inlets’, but this is unnecessary (Sahlgren 1927-8, I, 129). (c) Kock (NN §1932, modifying a solution proposed in NN §1079A) reads sunda víðra landa valbrands vápnunduðum ‘wounded by the weapon of the inlets of the wide lands of the slaughter-fire [SWORD > SHIELDS > BLOOD]’, i.e. ‘wounded by a bloody weapon’, but the syntax implicit in this postulated use of the kenning to qualify vápn ‘weapon’ is dubious (cf. Sahlgren 1927-8, I, 129).


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