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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (ÓTHkr) 1I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1073.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla1

Þás ‘When’

þás (conj.): when

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sparn ‘kicked’

sperna (verb): kick

[1] sparn á Maurnis: ‘mórn ámo mꜹ́rnis’ F, ‘sparn amo mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘sparnama mꜹrnar’ 291

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á ‘against’

3. á (prep.): on, at

[1] sparn á Maurnis: ‘mórn ámo mꜹ́rnis’ F, ‘sparn amo mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘sparnama mꜹrnar’ 291

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‘the heath’

1. mór (noun m.; °; -ar): moor, heath

[1] sparn á Maurnis: ‘mórn ámo mꜹ́rnis’ F, ‘sparn amo mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘sparnama mꜹrnar’ 291

kennings

mó Maurnis
‘the heath of Maurnir ’
   = ?

the heath of Maurnir → ?

notes

[1] mó Maurnis ‘the heath of Maurnir [?]’: This is a tantalizing phrase, in which Maurnis (‘mꜹrnis’ Kˣ, F, ‘mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘mꜹrnar’ 291) is elusive and could be acc. sg. either of mór m. ‘heath, moor’ or of the horse-name Mór m. (LP: 2. Mór). (a) Given the general context of níð and the sexual insult in ll. 5-8, the most credible explanation is ‘mare’s rump’ (merarlend), suggested by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26). He assumes a connection with Mǫrnir/Maurnir, who is invoked in Anon (Vǫlsa) 4-12 in the formula þiggi Maurnir þetta blæti ‘may Maurnir receive this offering’, as the horse phallus Vǫlsi is passed round. Maurnir therefore seems in Vǫlsa to be a deity, probably phallic (see further Note to Anon Vǫls 4/5). Bjarni also cites the opinion of Olsen (1917, II, 656) that mǫrnir is a (horse-)phallus. The use of topographical terms (here mór ‘heath’) to refer to the female genitals is paralleled: see Clunies Ross (1973b, 85, n. 32). (b) Emendation to Mǫrnar or Marnar (f. gen. sg.) ‘of Mǫrn’ was proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 11, 35-6) and adopted by Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson (Nj 1875-8, II, 228-9) and Skj B. Mǫrn is a river-name, for which identification with the Marne has been suggested (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: Mǫrn), and it would provide a reference to water, forming a ship-kenning with mó(r) ‘steed’. This would work well in context, yet the mss agree on a root vowel spelt <ꜹ>, not <a>, and corruption of so natural a kenning would be hard to explain. Further, the sense of sparn would need to be ‘travelled’, though it normally means ‘kick, press hard with the feet’ (see Fritzner: sperna). (c) Kock (NN §526) largely agrees with (b), but takes as m. acc. sg. ‘heath, moor’, hence ‘heath of the water’, presumably ‘sea’.

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Maurnis ‘of Maurnir’

Maurnir (noun m.): Maurnir

[1] sparn á Maurnis: ‘mórn ámo mꜹ́rnis’ F, ‘sparn amo mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘sparnama mꜹrnar’ 291

kennings

mó Maurnis
‘the heath of Maurnir ’
   = ?

the heath of Maurnir → ?

notes

[1] mó Maurnis ‘the heath of Maurnir [?]’: This is a tantalizing phrase, in which Maurnis (‘mꜹrnis’ Kˣ, F, ‘mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘mꜹrnar’ 291) is elusive and could be acc. sg. either of mór m. ‘heath, moor’ or of the horse-name Mór m. (LP: 2. Mór). (a) Given the general context of níð and the sexual insult in ll. 5-8, the most credible explanation is ‘mare’s rump’ (merarlend), suggested by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26). He assumes a connection with Mǫrnir/Maurnir, who is invoked in Anon (Vǫlsa) 4-12 in the formula þiggi Maurnir þetta blæti ‘may Maurnir receive this offering’, as the horse phallus Vǫlsi is passed round. Maurnir therefore seems in Vǫlsa to be a deity, probably phallic (see further Note to Anon Vǫls 4/5). Bjarni also cites the opinion of Olsen (1917, II, 656) that mǫrnir is a (horse-)phallus. The use of topographical terms (here mór ‘heath’) to refer to the female genitals is paralleled: see Clunies Ross (1973b, 85, n. 32). (b) Emendation to Mǫrnar or Marnar (f. gen. sg.) ‘of Mǫrn’ was proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 11, 35-6) and adopted by Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson (Nj 1875-8, II, 228-9) and Skj B. Mǫrn is a river-name, for which identification with the Marne has been suggested (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: Mǫrn), and it would provide a reference to water, forming a ship-kenning with mó(r) ‘steed’. This would work well in context, yet the mss agree on a root vowel spelt <ꜹ>, not <a>, and corruption of so natural a kenning would be hard to explain. Further, the sense of sparn would need to be ‘travelled’, though it normally means ‘kick, press hard with the feet’ (see Fritzner: sperna). (c) Kock (NN §526) largely agrees with (b), but takes as m. acc. sg. ‘heath, moor’, hence ‘heath of the water’, presumably ‘sea’.

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morðkunnr ‘the battle-famed’

morðkunnr (adj.): [battle-famed]

[2] morðkunnr: ‘marghunnr’ J1ˣ, morðkunn 291

notes

[2, 3] morðkunnr; myrðir Vinða ‘battle-famed; the killer of the Wends [DANISH KING = Haraldr]’: The praise may be ironic, jibing at the Danes’ failure to overcome the Wends (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Almqvist 1965-74, I, 182-4).

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Haraldr ‘Haraldr’

Haraldr (noun m.): Haraldr

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sunnan ‘from the south’

sunnan (adv.): (from the) south

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vas ‘was’

2. vera (verb): be, is, was, were, are, am

[3] vas þá (‘var þa’): so J1ˣ, 291, varð þá Kˣ, varðat F

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þá ‘then’

2. þá (adv.): then

[3] vas þá (‘var þa’): so J1ˣ, 291, varð þá Kˣ, varðat F

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Vinða ‘the Wends’

Vinðr (noun m.; °; vinðr/-ir): the Wends

[3] Vinða: ‘vanþa’ J1ˣ

kennings

myrðir Vinða
‘the killer of the Wends ’
   = DANISH KING = Haraldr

the killer of the Wends → DANISH KING = Haraldr

notes

[2, 3] morðkunnr; myrðir Vinða ‘battle-famed; the killer of the Wends [DANISH KING = Haraldr]’: The praise may be ironic, jibing at the Danes’ failure to overcome the Wends (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Almqvist 1965-74, I, 182-4).

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myrðir ‘the killer of’

myrðir (noun m.): killer

[3] myrðir: myrði 291

kennings

myrðir Vinða
‘the killer of the Wends ’
   = DANISH KING = Haraldr

the killer of the Wends → DANISH KING = Haraldr

notes

[2, 3] morðkunnr; myrðir Vinða ‘battle-famed; the killer of the Wends [DANISH KING = Haraldr]’: The praise may be ironic, jibing at the Danes’ failure to overcome the Wends (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Almqvist 1965-74, I, 182-4).

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faxa ‘a stallion’

faxi (noun m.): steed

[4] faxa: faxi F

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berg ‘of the rock’

berg (noun n.; °-s; -): rock, cliff < bergsalr (noun m.)

[5] berg‑: ber‑ 291

kennings

bǫndum bergsalar
‘the deities of the rock-hall ’
   = GIANTS

the deities of the rock-hall → GIANTS
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salar ‘hall’

1. salr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -; dat. sǫlum): hall < bergsalr (noun m.)

[5] ‑salar: salr J1ˣ, ‑stofu 291

kennings

bǫndum bergsalar
‘the deities of the rock-hall ’
   = GIANTS

the deities of the rock-hall → GIANTS
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bǫndum ‘the deities’

band (noun n.; °-s; *-): band, bond

kennings

bǫndum bergsalar
‘the deities of the rock-hall ’
   = GIANTS

the deities of the rock-hall → GIANTS
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rækr ‘deserving to be driven out by’

rækr (adj.; °-jan; compar. -ari, superl. -jastr/-astr): deserving to be driven out

[6] rækr: rekr 291

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ǫld ‘people’

ǫld (noun f.; °; aldir): people, age

[7] ǫld í jǫldu: ǫld í ǫldu F, ǫldu J1ˣ, ǫld jǫldu 291

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í ‘in’

í (prep.): in, into

[7] ǫld í jǫldu: ǫld í ǫldu F, ǫldu J1ˣ, ǫld jǫldu 291

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jǫldu ‘a mare’

jalda (noun f.): [a mare]

[7] ǫld í jǫldu: ǫld í ǫldu F, ǫldu J1ˣ, ǫld jǫldu 291

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óríkr ‘the powerless’

óríkr (adj.): [powerless]

[8] óríkr: ‘vrik[...]’ 291

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líki ‘the shape of’

1. lík (noun n.; °-s; -): body, shape

[8] líki: so F, J1ˣ, 291, ríki Kˣ

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

In Hkr, the Icelanders have passed a law that each person should compose a níðvísa against the Danish king Haraldr Gormsson after an Icelandic vessel shipwrecked in Denmark has been seized under supervision of the king’s steward Birgir. Haraldr, having ravaged parts of Norway, plans to turn his fleet against Iceland to avenge the níð composed against him and his steward. Following the quotation comes the famous episode of the landvættir/landvéttir ‘guardian spirits of the land’, in which a sorcerer sent by Haraldr to reconnoitre Iceland in the shape of a whale is repelled from the shores by fabulous beings. The Danish invasion is called off as a consequence. Jvs refers more briefly to the níð and lacks the landvættir episode.

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