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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (TGT) 2III

Tarrin Wills (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 538.

Anonymous LausavísurStanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise

text and translation

Svanr þyrr beint til benja
blóðs vindára róðri.

{Svanr blóðs} þyrr {róðri {vindára}} beint til benja.
‘The swan of blood [RAVEN/EAGLE] rushes with the rowing of wind-oars [WINGS > FLIGHT] straight to the wounds.

notes and context

Cited as an example of barbarismus in the form of a shortened vowel (stundar afdráttr ‘reduction of [vowel] length’) for metrical and aesthetic purposes. The second line is cited again for its shortened vowel in the section on metaplasmus, illustrating the same phenomenon under the classical term systole (‘sistola’; TGT 1927, 63): Sistola gerir langa samstǫfu skamma sem fyrr er ritatSystole makes a long syllable short as was written earlier’.

The rhetorical figure exemplified here is realised in the second syllable of vindára, which is pronounced with a short vowel (TGT 1927, 44): Hér er vindara sett fyrir vindára róðri þat er flugr. Þessi samstafa er skǫmm gǫr fyrir fegrðar sakir, þvíat þá hljóðar betr ‘Here vindara is used instead of vindára róðri, that is, flight. This syllable is made short for the sake of beauty, because it sounds better’. It is not immediately clear why an even line of Type D2 (with a short syllable in metrical position 3) should be more pleasing to the ear than a Type D1-line (with a long syllable in metrical position 3), because both types are attested in dróttkvætt poetry. It could be that the long syllable with secondary stress was perceived to be too heavy (see Sievers 1893, 104 Anm. 4; Kuhn 1983, 147, 165).



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XII], C. Vers om ubestemmelige personer og begivenheder 11: AI, 598, BI, 598, Skald I, 291; SnE 1818, 311, 321, SnE 1848, 183, 189, SnE 1848-87, II, 102-3, 136-7, 406, 416, 509, III, 139, TGT 1884, 14, 22, 66, 88, 173, TGT 1927, 44, 63, 92.


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