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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Eil Þdr 7III

[1, 4] í mǫrk háfs ‘in the borderland of the fish trap [RIVER]’: Although mǫrk in Old Norse usually means ‘forest’ or ‘wasteland’ (Fritzner: mörk), the original meaning is ‘borderland’ (cf. Goth. marka ‘border’, OE mearc ‘border, district’, OS marca ‘border, borderland’; see AEW: mǫrk). Háfs is an emendation of ‘haf’ (all mss). The omission of the ending ‑s could have been caused by the initial s- in the next word. Earlier interpretations (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 383; Guðmundur Finnbogason 1924, 176; Davidson 1983, 590) avoid emendation by assuming tmesis háfmǫrk. The present edn emends because tmesis between l. 1 and l. 4 should rather be avoided. Another possibility is to interpret í mǫrk as ‘in the ground’ (NN §447; Reichardt 1948, 350) which could be justified by assuming a semantic development from ‘borderland’ to ‘land, ground’. That results in problems within the last line, however. Kock (NN §447) construes háf skotnaðra ‘the fish trap of the spear’ without explaining what that means. Reichardt (1948, 349-50) combines háfs with markar (l. 1) to byr markar háfs ‘the storm of the ground of the fish trap [RIVER]’, referring to the roaring current. However, this interpretation results in a three-part l. 4.


  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. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  4. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  5. Davidson, Daphne L. 1983. ‘Earl Hákon and his Poets’. D. Phil. thesis. Oxford.
  6. Finnur Jónsson. 1900b. ‘Þórsdrápa Eilífs Goðrúnarsonar’. Oversigt over det Kgl. Danske videnskabernes selskabs forhandlinger 1900, 369-410.
  7. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1948. ‘Die Thórsdrápa des Eilífr Goðrúnarson: Textinterpretation’. PMLA 63, 329-91.
  8. Guðmundur Finnbogason. 1924. ‘Um Þórsdrápu. Nokkrar athugasemdir’. Skírnir, 172-81.


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