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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Sólarljóð, 38 [Vol. 7, 321]

[4-6] heljar meyjar buðu mér heim hrolla á hverju kveldi ‘Hell’s maidens dealt shivers home to me every evening’: Several interpretations of these ll. have been offered. Njörður Njarðvík (1993, 116) suggests hrolla-heim as a cpd object of buðu ‘offered me a world of shivers’, but observes that the poem does not normally split compounds like this. Skj B and LP: hrolla make heim the acc. in an acc.-inf. construction with hrolla, a verb meaning ‘to shiver’ or ‘to collapse’, hver aften skulde verden gyse (være kold) for mig ‘every evening the world would shiver (be cold) for me’ (Skj), or verden skulde for mig være som ved at falde sammen ‘the world should be for me as if it were collapsing’ (LP). It is preferable to take heim as adverbial, meaning lit. ‘home’, metaphorically (and untranslatably) ‘right to me’ (as in English ‘to hit home’) and hrolla as acc. pl. of hrollr ‘shiver’; here we follow Marold’s suggestion in Whaley et al. 2002, 72. The fever that racks the speaker every evening is sent by maidens from Hell. Who these women might be is unclear; Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 41) suggests they are personifications of sickness, but the figures seem rather to be evidence of the poem’s syncretic tendencies, paralleled by the dísir of 25/1. As Fidjestøl (1979, 42) points out, the context does not exclude the possibility that norns or valkyries may be part of the phrase’s frame of reference, and thus that Hel, the goddess, is also intended.


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