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skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035 2. General Introduction 5. The diction of skaldic poetry 5.3. Metaphors

5.3. Metaphors

Edith Marold 2012, ‘Metaphors’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. lxxxix-xc.

The number of metaphorical kennings in skaldic poetry is by no means small. However, outside of this group of kennings, almost no nominal metaphors exist. Only later, in Christian skaldic poetry, do these begin to occur more frequently. In the earlier period, the use of verbal metaphors is more common, particularly in kviðuháttr poetry. Indeed, we find here that entire images are built upon the metaphorical resources of the kennings. As an example, the metaphor in the kenning ‘moon of the forehead’ for ‘eye’ is extended by the use of the verbal phrase ‘to shine with rays’: … þás ormfránn ennimáni allvalds skein œgigeislum ‘… when the snake-gleaming moon of the forehead [eye] of the mighty ruler shone [looked] with fear-rays’ (Egill Arkv 5/5-8V (Eg 101)).

The metaphorical use of the verb ‘to tread upon’ for ‘to kill’ or ‘to affect in hostile fashion’ could almost be called conventionalised. In the following example, fire is described as a thief ‘striding with soles of fire’ in order to emphasise its lethal power: Ok rausuðr reyks trað Ingjald ífjǫrvan á Ræningi, þás húsþjófr sté leistum hyrjar í gǫgnum goðkynning ‘And the gusher of smoke [fire] overcame (lit. trod upon) Ingjaldr alive in Ræning, when the house-thief [fire] strode with soles of fire through the descendant of gods’ (Þjóð Yt 20/1-8I, in prose order). Metaphors employing genitive constructions are also used in kviðuháttr style, as in the following example: Ok glymjandi garmr glóða beit allvald í arinkjóli ‘And the roaring dog of embers bit the sovereign in the hearth-ship [house]’ (Þjóð Yt 4/9-12I). In the metaphor here the effect of fire on its human victim is compared to that of a biting animal, a dog,[16] and the metaphor in this case encompasses the noun phrase, including the attributive adjective, and the verb.

References

  1. Internal references
  2. Not published: do not cite (Egill Arkv 5V (Eg 101))
  3. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 20’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 44.
  4. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 4’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 14.
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