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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Hfr Hákdr 1III

[4] brumaðr hári ‘budded with hair’: The verb bruma ‘bud’ is otherwise unknown, but brum n. ‘buds, shoots; (in later prose) beginnings’ (ONP: 1 brum 1-2; LP: brum) and brumr m. ‘point in time’ (ONP, LP: brumr) are fairly well attested. As Finnur Jónsson (LP: hár n.) points out, this is an extended metaphor, in which Hákon is a tree, whose buds are his hair. This organic metaphor thus includes his relationship to his subjects, who are called þollar ‘firs’: the mighty tree shelters them. Davidson (1983, 469-71) suggests this is also an image of dynastic fruitfulness, traditionally symbolised by luxuriant hair (cf. Hálfdan svarti’s dream, ÍF 26, 90-1). The sense of a beginning inherent in brumaðr ‘budded’ could be regarded as appropriate to the opening section of the poem, though there is no external evidence to support such a placement of this helmingr.


  1. Bibliography
  2. 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.
  3. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  4. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  5. Davidson, Daphne L. 1983. ‘Earl Hákon and his Poets’. D. Phil. thesis. Oxford.


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