Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Óldr 11I

[2, 3] gló-Lista ljótbnanda lautar ‘the gleaming Lista of the ugly edging of the dale [= Miðgarðsormr > GOLD]’: It is clear from the context that this is a gold-kenning, and equally that the meaningless ‘birnandir’ or ‘birnandiz’ must be emended. Three different gold-kennings have been proposed: two on the pattern ‘land of the serpent’, and one on the pattern ‘fire of the sea’. (a) The solution adopted above follows Kock (NN §2116), who proposes emending to brýnanda ‘of the edging’, gen. of an otherwise unattested participial noun brýnandi m., from brýna ‘to edge’, itself derived from brún f. ‘brow, edge, sea-shore’. The ‘ugly edging’ of the land (laut f. ‘dale’, a common land-heiti) is the Miðgarðsormr (or Jǫrmungandr), the encircling World Serpent (see SnE 2005, 27, 50), here standing for a generic ‘serpent’, and Lista stands for ‘land’ in general. The traditional land or lair of a serpent is gold (cf. other gold-kennings alluding to the Miðgarðsormr: Hallv Knútdr 5/2III leið holmfjǫturs ‘path of the islet-fetter’ and Anon Pl 50/5, 6, 7VII látr undins fránbaugs jarðar ‘ground of the twisted, shining ring of the earth’). The verbal element gló-, typically applied to gold (LP), gives an extra hint as to the meaning of this complex kenning. (b) Skj B emends ‘birnandiz’ to girðanda ‘girdling’; the ‘ugly girdling of the dale’ is again the Miðgarðsormr. While not implausible, this is a more radical emendation and yields a lectio facilior, so is not adopted here. (c) Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1832, 11) and Gullberg (1875) emend to brennandi m. or f. ‘burning one’, and take glólista as ‘gleaming edge’ (from listi m. ‘selvage, edge’); the ‘dale’s gleaming edge’ is the sea, and the ‘burning one of the sea’, gold. But listi m. is late and rare, while the earlier form is lista f. (CVC: lista), and brennandi meaning ‘fire’ lacks parallels (cf. ONP: brennandi m.).


  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. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  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. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  6. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  7. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  8. Gullberg, H., ed. 1875. Óláfs drápa Tryggvasonar: fragment ur “Bergsboken”. Lund: Berling.
  9. Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1832. Skóla-hátíd í minníngu Fædíngar-dags vors allranádugasta Konúngs Fridriks Sjøtta: Ólafs drápa Tryggvasonar er Hallfredr orti Vandrædaskáld. Videyjarklaustri: Á kostnad Bessastada Skóla.
  10. Internal references
  11. Jonna Louis-Jensen and Tarrin Wills (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Plácitusdrápa 50’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 212-13.
  12. 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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