Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Glúmr Lv 1I

[5, 6] dǫkkvalir dolgbands ‘the dark falcons of the battle-god [= Óðinn > RAVENS]’: Valir ‘falcons’ is clearly the base-word to a raven-kenning, but the variants brands/bands and alternative interpretations of dǫkk- produce different routes by which the raven-kenning is arrived at. (a) The reading -bands ‘band’ has considerable ms. support, including that of the main ms., and is adopted here, as in ÍF 26, ÍF 29 and Hkr 1991. Band is taken in the sense ‘god’, forming the base-word of a kenning dolgband ‘battle-god [= Óðinn]’, whose valir ‘falcons’ are ravens. Dǫkk- ‘dark’ then describes the birds; so ÍF 26, ÍF 29. The drawback to this analysis is that the word band rarely or never occurs in the sg. in the sense ‘god’ (see LP: band 5), but -bands is nonetheless tentatively adopted here, as the lectio difficilior and the reading with strongest ms. support. (b) The variant -brands could form dǫkkvalir dolgbrands dark falcons of the strife-flame [SWORD > RAVENS/EAGLES]’ (so LP: dǫkkvalr), though raven-kennings rarely have a term for a weapon as the determinant (see Meissner 122). (c) Brands could alternatively form an inverted kenning dolgbrands dǫkkvalir ‘falcons of the pool of the strife-flame [(lit. ‘pool-falcons of the strife-flame’) SWORD > BLOOD > RAVENS/EAGLES]’ (so Finnur Jónsson, Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B). Dolgbrandr ‘strife-flame’ is a stereotypical sword-kenning (see Meissner 150), which in turn provides the determinant of a blood-kenning whose base-word is dǫkk, taken now not as the adj. ‘dark’ but the noun ‘pool’, cf. Kolli Ingdr 4/7, 8II dǫkk vápna ‘pool of weapons [BLOOD]’ (ms. ‘doct’). (d) The Fsk variant ‘dog(g)’ would point to dǫgg ‘dew’, which would also be suitable in a blood-kenning.


  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  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. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  6. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  8. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  9. Internal references
  10. Not published: do not cite (BandV)
  11. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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. clix-clxi.
  12. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Kolli inn prúði, Ingadrápa 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 531.


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