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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Sól 42VII

[4] gylfar ‘of the sea’: This word occurs only here in OIcel. and does not exist in MIcel. Bugge (1867, 364), though he adduces ON gjálfr ‘the sound of the sea’ and by extension ‘sea’ (LP: gjálfr), reads Gylfar as a gen. pers. n., derived from *Gylfr, meaning ‘gulf, body of water’. However, there is no such word recorded in ON. Falk (1914, 26) relates it to a Norw. dialect word he gives as gyl ‘mountain-cleft’, cf. OED: gill n.2, noting that the entrance to the ON underworld is sometimes envisaged as a headland (Egill St 25V; Fáfn 11/2) and linking a water-filled cleft to the vötn fjalla ‘mountain waters’ of 45/4. LP: Gylfr (?), f. (?) notes the obscurity of the word’s form and meaning. Skj B, as also Skald, gives Gilfar, a pers. n., apparently derived from *Gylfr. Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 43) emends to Gylfa, from Gylfi, a sea-king name, and thus interprets Gylfa straumar ‘the currents of Gylfi’ as a kenning for the sea. It seems likely that the word does have some association with the sea (cf. AEW: Gylfi, which cites gylfr, f. a river name, also ‘wave, sea’ as cognate); whether it is a common noun or a pers. n. is uncertain.


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  5. 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.
  6. Björn Magnússon Ólsen, ed. 1915a. Sólarljóð: gefin út með skíringum og athugasemdum. Safn til sögu Íslands og íslenzkra bókmenta 5.1. Reykjavík: Prentsmiðja Gutenberg.
  7. Bugge, Sophus, ed. 1867. Norrœn fornkvæði. Islandsk samling af folkelige oldtidsdigte om nordens guder og heroer. Almindelig kaldet Sæmundar Edda hins frøda. Christiania (Oslo): Malling. Rpt. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget 1965.
  8. Falk, Hjalmar, ed. 1914a. Sólarljóð. Videnskapsselskapets skrifter II. Hist.-filos. kl. 7. 2 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  9. OED = Murray, J. A. H. et al., eds. 1884-1928. The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon. 2nd edn 1989. Simpson, J. A. and E. S. C. Weiner, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  10. Internal references
  11. Not published: do not cite ()
  12. Not published: do not cite (Egill St 25V (Eg 96))


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