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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gestumbl Heiðr 27VIII (Heiðr 74)

Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 74 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur 27)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 441.

GestumblindiHeiðreks gátur

text and translation

Hvat er þat dýra,         er Dönum hlífir,
berr blóðugt bak,         en bergr firum,
geirum mætir,         gefr líf sumum,
leggr við lófa         lík sitt guma?
Heiðrekr konungr,         hyggðu at gátu.

Hvat er þat dýra, er hlífir Dönum, berr blóðugt bak, en bergr firum, mætir geirum, gefr sumum líf, leggr lík sitt við lófa guma? Heiðrekr konungr, hyggðu at gátu.
‘What is that creature, that protects Danes, bears a bloody back, but saves men, meets spears, gives life to some, lays its body against the palm of a man? King Heiðrekr, think about the riddle.

notes and context

Heiðrekr’s response is (Heiðr 1960, 39): Þat er skjǫldr; hann verðr opt blóðugr í bardǫgum ok hlífir vel þeim mǫnnum, er skjaldfimir eru ‘That is a shield; it often becomes bloody in battles and protects those men well who are deft with a shield’. — [1]: See Note to Heiðr 73/1. — [4]: Cf. Heiðr 53/4.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], D. 5. Heiðreks gátur 17: AII, 224, BII, 243, Skald II, 126; Heiðr 1672, 150, FSN 1, 476, Heiðr 1873, 255, 339, Heiðr 1924, 72-3, 75, 138, FSGJ 2, 45, Heiðr 1960, 39; Edd. Min. 116.


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