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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Hryn 4II l. 5

Vafðir — You wavered


2. vefja (verb): wrap



[5] vafðir lítt ‘you wavered little’: (a) So too Skj B (du betænkte dig ikke). The verb vefja commonly has the meaning ‘fold, wrap (material etc.)’. When used, as here, of human subjects the sense is usually ‘become embroiled’ (in some difficult affair). From this it is not far to the sense ‘hesitate, waver’, and this is supported by SnSt Ht 64/1III. Under this interpretation the st. contrasts the immovable courage of Magnús with the turbulence of the sea. (b) Foote suggests that vefja ‘wrap’ here has the specific nautical sense ‘take in sail, reef’, which is attractive and contextually plausible but not supported by usage elsewhere (Foote 1978, 63 and n. 26; followed by Jesch 2001a, 174, who points out that the references in the st. to tackle and masts, and the fact that the noun vefr can mean ‘sail’ ‘mak[es] a connection with “sail” … almost inevitable’). (c) A further possibility is the 2nd pers. sg. pret. indic. of váfa ‘swing, hang’, for which a figurative use ‘waver, be uncertain’ is attested (LP: váfa 3), though not with a personal subject.



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