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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Gísl Magnkv 16II

[8] valfasti ‘the corpse-flame [SWORD (brandr ‘fire’)]’: A kenning for ‘sword’. It seems that we are dealing with an ofljóst (‘too transparent’) construction, i.e. a play on the word brandr, which can mean both ‘sword’ (valfasti) and ‘fire’. Another alternative would be to adopt the F variant salfasti ‘hall-fire’ and read salfasti djúps ‘the hall-fire of the deep’, i.e. ‘the hall-fire of the sea’. The god Ægir was the personification of the sea (see Note to st. 15/8), and, according to the prose introduction to Lok (see NK 96), his hall was lit by white gold (lýsigull) (see also NN §2534 and the detailed discussion in Clunies Ross 1987, 138-50). Kock (NN §2534) emends to djúps svalfasti ‘the cool fire of the deep’ i.e. ‘gold’ while Finnur Jónsson (LP: valfasti 2) merely notes that the cpd in this particular instance means ‘fire’.


  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. 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.
  4. Clunies Ross, Margaret. 1987. Skáldskaparmál: Snorri Sturluson’s ars poetica and Medieval Theories of Language. VC 4. [Odense]: Odense University Press.
  5. 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.
  6. Internal references
  7. Not published: do not cite ()


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