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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 1I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 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. 283.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla
12

Hug ‘the high’

hugr (noun m.): mind, thought, courage < hugstórr (adj.): mighty-heartedhugr (noun m.): mind, thought, courage < Hugstórr (adj.)

kennings

hugstóran vǫrð foldar
‘the high-minded guardian of the land ’
   = RULER = Hákon jarl

the high-minded guardian of the land → RULER = Hákon jarl
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stóran ‘minded’

stórr (adj.): large, great < hugstórr (adj.): mighty-hearted

[1] ‑stóran: ‑stórar U

kennings

hugstóran vǫrð foldar
‘the high-minded guardian of the land ’
   = RULER = Hákon jarl

the high-minded guardian of the land → RULER = Hákon jarl
Close

heyra ‘listen’

2. heyra (verb): hear

notes

[1, 3, 4] heyra á brim ‘listen to the surf’: In other contexts brim dreggjar ‘surf of yeast/dregs’ could have formed an ale-kenning which in turn formed the base-word of a poem-kenning (LP: brim, though cf. Krömmelbein 1983, 172). Here, however, it appears that brim ‘surf’ is not part of the poem-kenning proper, whose base-word is dregg ‘dregs’. Rather, ‘listen to the surf’ is part of a metaphoric image spanning the introductory stanzas of Vell which likens the poem’s effect on the listener to that of an onrushing wave (see Marold 1994a, 473; cf. Frank 1981, 158; Krömmelbein 1983, 178). In the introductory sts 1-5 the poet combines metaphors and kennings in a very unconventional way, imagining the recitation of the poem as a wave growing and roaring before the ruler, or issuing from inside the poet through his mouth and booming against the cliffs of his teeth, or passing over the ruler’s men. Into this metaphorical framework the poet inserts the kennings for ‘poem’ (see Note to [All] above), sometimes adjusting their base-words to this imagery.

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heyr ‘hear’

2. heyra (verb): hear

[2] heyr: hyr B

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Kvasis ‘of Kvasir’

Kvasir (noun m.): Kvasir

kennings

dreyra Kvasis.
‘the blood of Kvasir. ’
   = POEM

the blood of Kvasir. → POEM
Close

dreyra ‘the blood’

dreyri (noun m.; °-a): blood

kennings

dreyra Kvasis.
‘the blood of Kvasir. ’
   = POEM

the blood of Kvasir. → POEM
Close

foldar ‘of the land’

fold (noun f.): land

kennings

hugstóran vǫrð foldar
‘the high-minded guardian of the land ’
   = RULER = Hákon jarl

the high-minded guardian of the land → RULER = Hákon jarl
Close

vǫrð ‘guardian’

vǫrð (noun f.): woman

kennings

hugstóran vǫrð foldar
‘the high-minded guardian of the land ’
   = RULER = Hákon jarl

the high-minded guardian of the land → RULER = Hákon jarl
Close

á ‘to’

3. á (prep.): on, at

[3] á: ok U

notes

[1, 3, 4] heyra á brim ‘listen to the surf’: In other contexts brim dreggjar ‘surf of yeast/dregs’ could have formed an ale-kenning which in turn formed the base-word of a poem-kenning (LP: brim, though cf. Krömmelbein 1983, 172). Here, however, it appears that brim ‘surf’ is not part of the poem-kenning proper, whose base-word is dregg ‘dregs’. Rather, ‘listen to the surf’ is part of a metaphoric image spanning the introductory stanzas of Vell which likens the poem’s effect on the listener to that of an onrushing wave (see Marold 1994a, 473; cf. Frank 1981, 158; Krömmelbein 1983, 178). In the introductory sts 1-5 the poet combines metaphors and kennings in a very unconventional way, imagining the recitation of the poem as a wave growing and roaring before the ruler, or issuing from inside the poet through his mouth and booming against the cliffs of his teeth, or passing over the ruler’s men. Into this metaphorical framework the poet inserts the kennings for ‘poem’ (see Note to [All] above), sometimes adjusting their base-words to this imagery.

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fyrða ‘of the men’

2. fyrðr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -): man

[3] fyrða: ‘fi(r)ða’(?) Tˣ

kennings

dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar;
‘of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone; ’
   = POEM

the fjord-bone; → ROCK
the men of the ROCK → DWARFS
the dregs of DWARFS → POEM

notes

[3-4] fyrða fjarðleggjar ‘of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS]’: The kenning is here assumed to refer to dwarfs, since they brewed the mead of poetry. It could alternatively refer to the giants, who are known as mountain-dwellers, but they obtained the mead as ransom from the earlier owners, the dwarfs.

Close

fyrða ‘of the men’

2. fyrðr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -): man

[3] fyrða: ‘fi(r)ða’(?) Tˣ

kennings

dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar;
‘of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone; ’
   = POEM

the fjord-bone; → ROCK
the men of the ROCK → DWARFS
the dregs of DWARFS → POEM

notes

[3-4] fyrða fjarðleggjar ‘of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS]’: The kenning is here assumed to refer to dwarfs, since they brewed the mead of poetry. It could alternatively refer to the giants, who are known as mountain-dwellers, but they obtained the mead as ransom from the earlier owners, the dwarfs.

Close

fjarð ‘of the fjord’

fjǫrðr (noun m.): fjord < fjarðleggr (noun m.)fjǫrðr (noun m.): fjord

kennings

dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar;
‘of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone; ’
   = POEM

the fjord-bone; → ROCK
the men of the ROCK → DWARFS
the dregs of DWARFS → POEM

notes

[3-4] fyrða fjarðleggjar ‘of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS]’: The kenning is here assumed to refer to dwarfs, since they brewed the mead of poetry. It could alternatively refer to the giants, who are known as mountain-dwellers, but they obtained the mead as ransom from the earlier owners, the dwarfs.

Close

fjarð ‘of the fjord’

fjǫrðr (noun m.): fjord < fjarðleggr (noun m.)fjǫrðr (noun m.): fjord

kennings

dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar;
‘of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone; ’
   = POEM

the fjord-bone; → ROCK
the men of the ROCK → DWARFS
the dregs of DWARFS → POEM

notes

[3-4] fyrða fjarðleggjar ‘of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS]’: The kenning is here assumed to refer to dwarfs, since they brewed the mead of poetry. It could alternatively refer to the giants, who are known as mountain-dwellers, but they obtained the mead as ransom from the earlier owners, the dwarfs.

Close

fjarð ‘of the fjord’

fjǫrðr (noun m.): fjord < fjarðleggr (noun m.)fjǫrðr (noun m.): fjord

kennings

dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar;
‘of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone; ’
   = POEM

the fjord-bone; → ROCK
the men of the ROCK → DWARFS
the dregs of DWARFS → POEM

notes

[3-4] fyrða fjarðleggjar ‘of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS]’: The kenning is here assumed to refer to dwarfs, since they brewed the mead of poetry. It could alternatively refer to the giants, who are known as mountain-dwellers, but they obtained the mead as ransom from the earlier owners, the dwarfs.

Close

leggjat ‘’

Close

leggjar ‘bone’

leggr (noun m.; °-jar, dat. -; -ir): limb < fjarðleggr (noun m.)

[4] ‑leggjar: ‘‑leggiat’ B

kennings

dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar;
‘of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone; ’
   = POEM

the fjord-bone; → ROCK
the men of the ROCK → DWARFS
the dregs of DWARFS → POEM

notes

[3-4] fyrða fjarðleggjar ‘of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS]’: The kenning is here assumed to refer to dwarfs, since they brewed the mead of poetry. It could alternatively refer to the giants, who are known as mountain-dwellers, but they obtained the mead as ransom from the earlier owners, the dwarfs.

Close

leggjar ‘bone’

leggr (noun m.; °-jar, dat. -; -ir): limb < fjarðleggr (noun m.)

[4] ‑leggjar: ‘‑leggiat’ B

kennings

dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar;
‘of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone; ’
   = POEM

the fjord-bone; → ROCK
the men of the ROCK → DWARFS
the dregs of DWARFS → POEM

notes

[3-4] fyrða fjarðleggjar ‘of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS]’: The kenning is here assumed to refer to dwarfs, since they brewed the mead of poetry. It could alternatively refer to the giants, who are known as mountain-dwellers, but they obtained the mead as ransom from the earlier owners, the dwarfs.

Close

leggjar ‘bone’

leggr (noun m.; °-jar, dat. -; -ir): limb < fjarðleggr (noun m.)

[4] ‑leggjar: ‘‑leggiat’ B

kennings

dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar;
‘of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone; ’
   = POEM

the fjord-bone; → ROCK
the men of the ROCK → DWARFS
the dregs of DWARFS → POEM

notes

[3-4] fyrða fjarðleggjar ‘of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS]’: The kenning is here assumed to refer to dwarfs, since they brewed the mead of poetry. It could alternatively refer to the giants, who are known as mountain-dwellers, but they obtained the mead as ransom from the earlier owners, the dwarfs.

Close

brim ‘the surf’

brim (noun n.): surf

notes

[1, 3, 4] heyra á brim ‘listen to the surf’: In other contexts brim dreggjar ‘surf of yeast/dregs’ could have formed an ale-kenning which in turn formed the base-word of a poem-kenning (LP: brim, though cf. Krömmelbein 1983, 172). Here, however, it appears that brim ‘surf’ is not part of the poem-kenning proper, whose base-word is dregg ‘dregs’. Rather, ‘listen to the surf’ is part of a metaphoric image spanning the introductory stanzas of Vell which likens the poem’s effect on the listener to that of an onrushing wave (see Marold 1994a, 473; cf. Frank 1981, 158; Krömmelbein 1983, 178). In the introductory sts 1-5 the poet combines metaphors and kennings in a very unconventional way, imagining the recitation of the poem as a wave growing and roaring before the ruler, or issuing from inside the poet through his mouth and booming against the cliffs of his teeth, or passing over the ruler’s men. Into this metaphorical framework the poet inserts the kennings for ‘poem’ (see Note to [All] above), sometimes adjusting their base-words to this imagery.

Close

dreggjat ‘’

Close

dreggjar ‘of the dregs’

dregg (noun f.; °-jar): dregs

[4] dreggjar: ‘dreggiat’ W, B

kennings

dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar;
‘of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone; ’
   = POEM

the fjord-bone; → ROCK
the men of the ROCK → DWARFS
the dregs of DWARFS → POEM
Close

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

In SnE (Skm), Vell 1 and 4 and later 2 and 3 are cited among several stanzas which illustrate kennings for ‘poetry’.

Both of the poem-kennings in this typical introductory stanza, in which the skald asks for a hearing, refer to the myth of the origin of the mead of poetry, which is told by Snorri Sturluson at the beginning of Skm (SnE 1998, I, 3-5; for the myth see also Introduction to SkP III). The dwarfs kill Kvasir, the divine being created by the Æsir and the Vanir at their peace-making, and brew the mead of poetry from his blood mixed with honey. This mead subsequently comes into the hands of the giants and then of Óðinn. The poem-kennings here, as in the following stanzas, use a periphrasis for ‘mead of poetry’ as a metonym for ‘poem’ or ‘poetry’ (see SnE 1998, I, 6, 11-14; Meissner 427-30). The name Kvasir in this kenning has been explained by words for an alcoholic drink made from crushed fruit (ARG II, 67-8; AEW: Kvasir). Frank (1981, 159-60) claims that Snorri misunderstood his sources when presenting his interpretation of the myth of the origin of the mead of poetry. She interprets kvasir ‘unmythologically’ as a word for ‘fermenting mash’, whose dreyr ‘blood (liquid)’ is intoxicating drink. However, this needs further qualification in order to form a periphrasis for the mead of poetry, so that Frank is obliged to assume that the reference to giants [or dwarfs] in the second kenning (l. 4) also applies to the first.

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