Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Líkn 2VII

[3] munnshöfn ‘mouth-content/resource [SPEECH]’: This is the only occurrence in poetry, but the cpd is also found in ON hagiographic prose (Matheus saga, Þórláks saga in yngri); cf. ODan. cognates munnhæfþe, munnhæfth (Fritzner: munnshöfn fig. ‘mode of expression’; also Meissner, 436 ‘mouth-content’ = ‘speech’). Guðrún Nordal 2001, 251-2 proposes that the poet here ‘construes a nýgjǫrvingr ..., calling the tongue orða ár (“oar of words”) and the mouth munnshǫfn (“the harbour of the mouth”). Poetry is pushed out of the harbour through the strength of the poet who commands the oar’. This is an attractive reading in the abstract, and no doubt the nýgjǫrving is present, but ‘harbour of the mouth’ does not seem suitable in context as the direct object of veiti ‘grant’ (l. 4). (See the similar dual possibility with orða ár below.)


  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. Guðrún Nordal. 2001. Tools of Literacy: The Role of Skaldic Verse in Icelandic Textual Culture of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press.
  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.


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