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skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Gestumbl Heiðr 16VIII (Heiðr 63)

[6] skjalli ‘than the membrane of an egg’: Cf. Gylf (SnE 2005, 19), which says that the water in the well of the norn Urðr er svá heiligt at allir hlutir þeir sem þar koma í brunninn verða svá hvítir sem hinna sú er skjall heitir, er innan liggr við eggskurn ‘is so holy that all those things which come there into the well become as white as the membrane which is called skjall, which lies within the eggshell’; cf. also skjallhvít lilja ‘the skjall-white lily’, Árni Gd 68/2IV. Some medieval philosophers, including Martianus Capella, William of Conches and Peter Abelard, used the membrane of the egg to represent the air in ‘cosmic egg’ models of the universe (see further Dronke 1974, 79-99, 154-66). Ms. 2845 reads skildi ‘shield’; the scribe may have been thinking of shields painted white or made from a light-coloured wood, references to which are not uncommon in Old Norse poetry. Cf. e.g. sciold hvítastan ‘the whitest shield’, Akv 7/9 (NK 241); hvítra skjalda ‘white shields’, Þhorn Harkv 8/2I and Note; Sigv Nesv 9/2, 3I and Note. On painted and decorated shields see Falk (1914b, 129-32, 145-8). The sunbeam in the solution is presumably the key to resolving this paradox, that the object can be both whiter than skjall and blacker than the raven, since obsidian has reflective properties.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  3. Falk, Hjalmar. 1914b. Altnordische Waffenkunde. Videnskapsselskapets skrifter, II. Hist.-filos. kl. 1914, 6. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  4. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  5. Dronke, Peter. 1974. Fabula: Explorations into the Uses of Myth in Medieval Platonism. Mittellatineische Studien und Texte 9. Leiden and Cologne: Brill.
  6. Internal references
  7. Not published: do not cite (GylfIII)
  8. Not published: do not cite ()
  9. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Nesjavísur 9’ 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. 569.
  10. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 8’ 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. 102.

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