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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to ǪrvOdd Ævdr 1VIII (Ǫrv 71)

[7] skæstafr skógs ‘the advancing stave of the bow [WARRIOR = I]’: The word skæstafr ‘the advancing stave’, the reading of both 471 and 173ˣ, is a hap. leg. of uncertain meaning, while 343a’s reading ‘bæstafr’ is not an Old Norse word. Skógr is used here in the uncommon sense ‘bow’ (cf. LP: 2. skógr) rather than ‘wood, forest’, its common meaning. The kenning stafr skógs ‘stave of the bow’ would make an acceptable warrior-kenning on its own, but the first element of the cpd, skæ- is difficult to assign a meaning (cf. LP: skæstafr). The horse-heiti skær ‘sprinter’ (Þul Hesta 1/8III) is not appropriate here, while there is a difficulty with the only other possible connection, with the cognate verb skæva ‘advance, rush [forward]’ (cf. LP, LT: skæva), in that the <v> of the stem skæv- is not present in the cpd under discussion. However, ‘advancing, rushing stave’ seems the most likely meaning for skæstafr, although Kock (NN §121) argues for a derivation from skæra, to which he attributes the same sense as skæva.


  1. Bibliography
  2. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. 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.
  4. LT = La Farge, Beatrice and John Tucker. 1992. Glossary to the Poetic Edda, based on Hans Kuhn’s Kurzes Wörterbuch. Skandinavistische Arbeiten 15. Heidelberg: Winter.
  5. Internal references
  6. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Hesta heiti 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 935.


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