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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorm Lv 21I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 21’ 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. 834.

Þormóðr KolbrúnarskáldLausavísur
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Á ‘It can’

3. á (prep.): on, at

[1] Á: þat papp4ˣ

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sér ‘be seen’

2. sjá (verb): see

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víg ‘war’

víg (noun n.; °-s; -): battle < vígreifr (adj.): [War-cheerful]

notes

[2] vígreifr ‘war-happy’: The adj. is here grouped with the clause in which it is embedded, since vér ‘we’ has sg. reference (so Gaertner 1907, 345; Kock, NN §712A; ÍF 6). Skj B construes this with the subject of the next clause, presumably because it is sg. The form in most Fbr mss is in fact pl. vígreifir.

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reifr ‘happy’

2. reifr (adj.): happy < vígreifr (adj.): [War-cheerful]

[2] ‑reifr: ‑reifir 142ˣ, 566aˣ, papp4ˣ, Flat

notes

[2] vígreifr ‘war-happy’: The adj. is here grouped with the clause in which it is embedded, since vér ‘we’ has sg. reference (so Gaertner 1907, 345; Kock, NN §712A; ÍF 6). Skj B construes this with the subject of the next clause, presumably because it is sg. The form in most Fbr mss is in fact pl. vígreifir.

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með ‘with’

með (prep.): with

[2] með: so all others, ‘m’ Hb

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Ôleifi ‘Óláfr’

Óláfr (noun m.): Óláfr

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Hildr ‘Hildr’

1. hildr (noun f.): battle

[3] Hildr: heldr all

kennings

Hildr hvítings,
‘Hildr of the bright drinking-horn, ’
   = WOMAN

Hildr of the bright drinking-horn, → WOMAN

notes

[3, 4] Hildr hvítings ‘Hildr <valkyrie> of the bright drinking-horn [WOMAN]’: (a) Hvítings, the reading of Hb, appears to be correct, and accordingly it seems best to emend heldr to Hildr, as adopted in Skj B, which yields a well-paralleled kenning (cf. Meissner 406, 418). Indeed, scribal alteration of ‘hildr’ to ‘heldr’ is natural enough before at hvôru ‘at all events’. (b) Boer (1899a, 156-7) achieves a similar meaning by the more radical emendation of at vér ‘that we’ in l. 1 to Vôr, at, in which the goddess-name Vôr forms the base-word of a woman-kenning, used in direct address. (c) It is possible to retain ms. heldr ‘rather’ (so earlier Fbr 1852; Gaertner 1907) and to read, with all the mss but Hb, hvít brúðr ‘fair lady’ (vocative) for hvítings. This makes sense of the passage, but paleographically it is implausible. As Finnur Jónsson (1932-3) points out, it is difficult to see why a scribe in the ms. tradition of Hb should have changed hvít brúðr to hvítings, as this makes the meaning of the passage obscure if heldr is correct. (d) A further possibility avoiding emendation of heldr is to interpret hvítings as a sword rather than a drinking horn (both meanings are attested: see LP: hvítingr) and make it depend on sár, hence ‘sword-wound’ (so also Kock, NN §712B; ÍF 6). We can be fairly certain, though, that this was not the version known to the writer of Fbr, since he tells us that before he was pierced by an arrow, Þormóðr had received no wound (ÍF 6, 268; ÓHLeg (1982, 198) says æigi stor sar ‘not serious wounds’).

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at ‘at’

3. at (prep.): at, to

[3] at hvôru: ‘enn hvoru’ 142ˣ, ‘en hvoru’ 566aˣ, 761bˣ, ‘atvaro’ DG8

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hvôru ‘all events’

hvárr (pron.): who, which, what, whether

[3] at hvôru: ‘enn hvoru’ 142ˣ, ‘en hvoru’ 566aˣ, 761bˣ, ‘atvaro’ DG8

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hvítings ‘of the bright drinking-horn’

hvítingr (noun m.; °; -ar): drinking horn

[4] hvítings: hvít brúðr 142ˣ, 566aˣ, papp4ˣ, Flat, DG8, 761bˣ

kennings

Hildr hvítings,
‘Hildr of the bright drinking-horn, ’
   = WOMAN

Hildr of the bright drinking-horn, → WOMAN

notes

[3, 4] Hildr hvítings ‘Hildr <valkyrie> of the bright drinking-horn [WOMAN]’: (a) Hvítings, the reading of Hb, appears to be correct, and accordingly it seems best to emend heldr to Hildr, as adopted in Skj B, which yields a well-paralleled kenning (cf. Meissner 406, 418). Indeed, scribal alteration of ‘hildr’ to ‘heldr’ is natural enough before at hvôru ‘at all events’. (b) Boer (1899a, 156-7) achieves a similar meaning by the more radical emendation of at vér ‘that we’ in l. 1 to Vôr, at, in which the goddess-name Vôr forms the base-word of a woman-kenning, used in direct address. (c) It is possible to retain ms. heldr ‘rather’ (so earlier Fbr 1852; Gaertner 1907) and to read, with all the mss but Hb, hvít brúðr ‘fair lady’ (vocative) for hvítings. This makes sense of the passage, but paleographically it is implausible. As Finnur Jónsson (1932-3) points out, it is difficult to see why a scribe in the ms. tradition of Hb should have changed hvít brúðr to hvítings, as this makes the meaning of the passage obscure if heldr is correct. (d) A further possibility avoiding emendation of heldr is to interpret hvítings as a sword rather than a drinking horn (both meanings are attested: see LP: hvítingr) and make it depend on sár, hence ‘sword-wound’ (so also Kock, NN §712B; ÍF 6). We can be fairly certain, though, that this was not the version known to the writer of Fbr, since he tells us that before he was pierced by an arrow, Þormóðr had received no wound (ÍF 6, 268; ÓHLeg (1982, 198) says æigi stor sar ‘not serious wounds’).

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ok ‘and’

3. ok (conj.): and, but; also

[4] ok: enn 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 761bˣ

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Skínn ‘It shines’

skína (verb): shine

[5] Skínn: so Flat, ‘skin’ all others

notes

[5] skínn á skildi mínum ‘it shines on my shield’: Skínn in its normal sense gives ‘It shines on my shield’, i.e. ‘My shield shines’ (so Finnur Jónsson, Skj B; 1932-3). Contextually a more likely sense would be ‘You can see from the condition of my shield what a hard fight I had’ (so ÍF 6, n.), but skína is not recorded in the sense ‘show’. Note that it is remarked in Fbr that Þormóðr had no shield or mail-shirt in the battle (ÍF 6, 267); ÓHLeg (1982, 198) says that he gave away his shield shortly before the arrow struck him.

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fekk ‘got’

2. fá (verb; °fǽr; fekk, fengu; fenginn): get, receive

[6] fekk: hlaut 142ˣ, 566aˣ, 761bˣ

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hríð ‘a blizzard’

hríð (noun f.; °-ar; -ir): time, storm

notes

[6] hríð ‘blizzard’: The word can also refer to a phase or attack in a battle.

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kalda ‘cold’

kaldr (adj.; °compar. -ari): cold

[6] kalda: stríða 142ˣ, 761bˣ

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nær ‘nearly’

nær (adv.): near, almost; when

[7] nær: nærr 566aˣ, 761bˣ

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hafa ‘have’

hafa (verb): have

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eski ‘spear’

eski (noun n.; °-s; -): ash-wood, spear < eskiaskr (noun m.)

[7] eski‑: so 142ˣ, papp4ˣ, æski‑ Hb, 566aˣ, Flat, DG8, eski with æski in margin 761bˣ

kennings

eskiaskar
‘spear-ash-trees ’
   = WARRIORS

spear-ash-trees → WARRIORS
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askar ‘ash-trees’

askr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i/-; -ar): ash, ash-tree, ash-ship < eskiaskr (noun m.)

[7] ‑askar: ærar DG8

kennings

eskiaskar
‘spear-ash-trees ’
   = WARRIORS

spear-ash-trees → WARRIORS
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ǫrvendan ‘left-handed’

ǫrvendr (adj.): [left-handed]

[8] ǫrvendan: erendan 142ˣ, 566aˣ, ‘eyrendan’ Flat, órændan DG8, ‘errendan’ 761bˣ

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

After the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad), a woman binding wounds asks Þormóðr whether he is of the king’s party or the farmers’, and he replies.

[7, 8] nær ǫrvendan ‘nearly left-handed’: No very satisfactory explanation has been devised for this expression. (a) Lines 7-8 seem to say that Þormóðr’s opponents in battle have nearly made him left-handed, this being the usual interpretation of ǫrvendr (e.g. LP), though according to Fbr (as confirmed by Þorm Lv 5V (Fbr 23)) he has been left-handed ever since his encounter with Kolbakr (see Þorm Lv 1V (Fbr 8), Context). Finnur Jónsson (Hb 1892-6, 414; Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, 75) suggests that the meaning may be that the poet’s other (left) arm has been so wounded that it also has been rendered useless, though this is not how the author of Fbr understood it, since, as noted above, he says that Þormóðr was unwounded before the arrow struck him. A further possibility is that he means they have forced him to fight nearly as well with his left hand as if he had been born left-handed. There is, at all events, an odd degree of logic perceptible in this: Þormóðr’s complaint in the preceding clause is that his shield shows how hard he was pressed, and thus we can imagine the weariness of his right hand, in which he would have held the shield, since he has been forced since his encounter with Kolbakr to wield his sword with the left. The derivation of ǫrv- is disputed (see ÍO: örvhendur), but certainly it did not originally mean ‘left’, and probably the cpd instead simply denoted using the less dominant, weaker, or merely ‘other’ hand. If used in such an original sense here, the word is both appropriate (since Þormóðr’s favoured hand has for long been his left) and witty, referring to the opposite of the hand it usually refers to. (b) Sveinbjörn Egilsson in LP (1860): örvendr, followed by Gaertner (1907, 346), takes the clause to mean ‘they have nearly killed me’ (cf. CVC: örendr ‘dead, having breathed one’s last’).

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