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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Arn Hryn 4II

[5] vafðir lítt ‘you wavered little’: (a) So too Skj B (du betænkte dig ikke). The verb vefja commonly has the meaning ‘fold, wrap (material etc.)’. When used, as here, of human subjects the sense is usually ‘become embroiled’ (in some difficult affair). From this it is not far to the sense ‘hesitate, waver’, and this is supported by SnSt Ht 64/1III. Under this interpretation the st. contrasts the immovable courage of Magnús with the turbulence of the sea. (b) Foote suggests that vefja ‘wrap’ here has the specific nautical sense ‘take in sail, reef’, which is attractive and contextually plausible but not supported by usage elsewhere (Foote 1978, 63 and n. 26; followed by Jesch 2001a, 174, who points out that the references in the st. to tackle and masts, and the fact that the noun vefr can mean ‘sail’ ‘mak[es] a connection with “sail” … almost inevitable’). (c) A further possibility is the 2nd pers. sg. pret. indic. of váfa ‘swing, hang’, for which a figurative use ‘waver, be uncertain’ is attested (LP: váfa 3), though not with a personal subject.


  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. 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. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  5. Foote, Peter G. 1978. ‘Wrecks and Rhymes’. In Andersson et al. 1978, 57-66. Rpt in Foote 1984a, 222-35.
  6. Internal references
  7. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 64’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1176.


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