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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Eil Þdr 5III

[2-3] vers gunnvargs fríðrar himintǫrgu ‘to the sea of the battle-wolf of the splendid sky-shield [SUN > = Fenrir > MOUNTAINS]’: This kenning is based on an uncommon kenning pattern for ‘mountains, wilderness’, namely, ‘sea of the wolf’. This referent is confirmed by a kenning in the next stanza, ver gaupu ‘sea of the lynx [MOUNTAINS]’ (st. 6/4). Such kennings follow a pattern according to which ‘abode of a mountain animal’ refers to ‘mountains’. The base-word ver ‘sea’ can be explained by the occasional Austausch zwischen ganzen Vorstellungsgebieten ‘switching between complete conceptual domains’ (Meissner 33). Here, ‘land’ is replaced by ‘sea’ and vice versa; cf. þang hlíðar ‘sea-weed of the hill-slope’ for ‘forest’ (Þjóð Yt 17/11I) and vǫrr rádýris ‘wake of the roe-deer’ for ‘land’ (Sigv Frag 2/4). Davidson (1983, 580) has the same kenning, but interprets it as ‘river’, ‘the fishing-place of the brilliant heaven-targe’s (i.e. sun’s) war-wolf (i.e. giant)’. The base-word vers is in the gen., indicating direction (with gingu ‘went’; see NS §141 and Note to st. 2/8 above).


  1. Bibliography
  2. 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.
  3. NS = Nygaard, Marius. 1906. Norrøn syntax. Kristiania (Oslo): Aschehoug. Rpt. 1966.
  4. Davidson, Daphne L. 1983. ‘Earl Hákon and his Poets’. D. Phil. thesis. Oxford.
  5. Internal references
  6. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2017, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Fragments 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 349.
  7. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 17’ 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. 38.


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