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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon (ÓT) 3I

[1-2] á borði byrhreins barðs ‘on the gunwale of the breeze-reindeer of the stem [SHIP]’: Borð, lit. ‘board’, is here a collective noun, referring to the planking of the ship’s hull, hence ‘ship’s side, hull, gunwale’ (Jesch 2001a, 140; ONP: borð 2). The kenning byrhreins barðs is pleonastic, as byrhreinn ‘breeze-reindeer’ alone signifies ‘ship’ without the additional determinant barðs ‘of the stem’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 2; cf. Fms 12), takes barðs as an adj., equivalent to barðaðs ‘stem-bearing’. An alternative arrangement is á barðs borði byrhreins. This may be construed in several ways. (a) Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI) has ‘on the edge (borð) of the stem (barð) of the breeze-reindeer’, and this may lie behind Finnur Jónsson’s skibets side ‘on the ship’s side’ in Skj B, but borð in a nautical context does not usually mean ‘edge’ (cf. LP: borð 3, 4). The image of oars passing the stem, or prow, of the ship is also odd. (b) Finnur Jónsson in LP takes both borð barðs ‘board of the stem’ and byrhreinn ‘breeze-reindeer’ as ship-kennings (LP: borð 3; byrhreinn).

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  5. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  6. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  7. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.

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