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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Bragi Rdr 5III

[2] sá golfhǫlkvis ‘the vat of the floor-steed [HOUSE > BED]’: Some commentators (e.g. Dronke 1969, 211-12) have understood as the 3rd pers. pret. sg. of the verb sjá ‘see’, but this requires emendation of ‑hǫlkvis to ‑hǫlkvi and adoption of R’s and ’s fylkir ‘ruler’ as subject of the clause. A majority of scholars, including the present ed., understand as acc. sg. of sár m. ‘vessel, tub, vat’, forming the base-word of a tvíkent bed-kenning. Golfhǫlkvir ‘floor-steed’ is then a house-kenning (cf. Meissner 430-1), referring to Jǫrmunrekkr’s hall. Hǫlkvir occurs as a horse-heiti in several contexts (e.g. Akv 30/7, SnE 1998, I, 89, Anon Kálfv 4/5, where it refers to the hero Hǫgni’s horse). Kock (NN §1916) regards hǫlkvir as a ship-heiti, and it is possible that the word could have had both senses (AEW: hǫlkvir). Bed-kennings are uncommon in skaldic verse, and sár, with its probably mundane associations, is never used elsewhere in the corpus (see LP: sár). Bragi is likely to have chosen it at least partly a) for metrical reasons (Gade 1995a, 29-30); b) because it extends the metaphor of the verb gyrða ‘encircle’ (with a band or hoop); and c) because it connotes a vessel containing liquid, the implicit parallel being with Jǫrmunrekkr’s maimed and bleeding body, shorn of arms and legs. Marold (1994c, 569-71), however, sees the referent of sár as Jǫrmunrekkr’s sleeping chamber, formed from planks of wood.


  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. 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.
  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. Gade, Kari Ellen. 1995a. The Structure of Old Norse dróttkvætt Poetry. Islandica 49. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  7. Dronke, Ursula, ed. and trans. 1969. The Poetic Edda. I: Heroic Poems. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  9. Marold, Edith. 1994c. ‘“Nagellose Masten”. Die Sage von Hamðir und Sörli in der Ragnarsdrápa’. In Gísli Sigurðsson et al. 1994, II, 565-79.
  10. Internal references
  11. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Kálfsvísa 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 668.
  12. Not published: do not cite ()


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