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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Líkn 51VII

[1, 3-4] gauta leiðar foldar humra ‘men of the path of the realm of lobsters [SEA > SEA PATH > SEAFARERS]’: LP (1860), LP, and Meissner, 238 all construe foldar humra as ‘land-lobsters’ (i.e. ‘snakes’), whose leið ‘path’ is ‘gold’. (Cf. orma leið, linns leið, etc., Meissner, 238.) This ed., however, follows NN §1197 in construing humra fold ‘land/realm of lobsters’ as ‘sea’, whose leið ‘path’ is the ‘sea-path’ seafarers cross. All other instances of humarr ‘lobster’ in kennings are in sea-kennings (e.g. humra heiðr ‘lobsters’ heath’, humra fjöll ‘lobsters’ mountain’; see Meissner, 96). The semi-redundancy of fold ‘land’ and leið ‘path’ is similar to the sea-kenning holmfjöturs leið ‘island fetter’s path’ (Hallv Knútdr 5/2III), where ‘island fetter’ itself is a kenning for ‘sea’. (See also Líkn 7/1, 3 mána hvéls hauðr ‘land of the moon’s wheel’ where ‘wheel’ simply refines the concept of ‘moon’). ‘Men of the sea’ or ‘seafarers’ accords well with the ‘sea of the world’ allegory and the Cross as ship in st. 33; see also the seafarer-kenning at 34/1-2.


  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. 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.
  5. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  6. Internal references
  7. George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 7’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 237.
  8. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 236.


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