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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 3I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 3’ 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. 285.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla
234

vágr ‘The wave’

vágr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i/-; -ar): sea, wave

[1] vágr: so Tˣ, W, vargr R, U, B

kennings

Vágr Rǫgnis
‘The wave of Rǫgnir ’
   = POEM

The wave of Rǫgnir → POEM

notes

[1] vágr ‘the wave’: The variant vargr ‘wolf’ given in R, U and B does not make sense in this context; see Finnur Jónsson (1891a, 154; 1924, 325).

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verk ‘the works’

verk (noun n.; °-s; -): deed

[2] verk: veri Tˣ

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Rǫgnis ‘of Rǫgnir’

rǫgnir (noun m.): the Rǫgnir

kennings

Vágr Rǫgnis
‘The wave of Rǫgnir ’
   = POEM

The wave of Rǫgnir → POEM
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hagna ‘are successful’

hagna (verb): turn out

[2] hagna: hǫgna all

notes

[2] hagna ‘are successful’: All mss give ǫ as this word’s root vowel, which is explained as an attempt on the part of the scribes to create the aðalhending required in this line (Finnur Jónsson 1924a, 325). However, it was still possible in Einarr’s day to conjoin a and ǫ in an aðalhending (Kuhn 1983, 79).

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þýtr ‘booms’

þjóta (verb): roar

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Óðrœris ‘of Óðrœrir’

Óðrœrir (noun m.): Óðrœrir

[3] Óðrœris: so Tˣ, U, ‘odreris’ R, W, B

kennings

ǫldrhafs Óðrœris
‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir ’
   = POEM

the ale-sea of Óðrœrir → POEM

notes

[3] Óðrœris ‘of Óðrœrir <mythical vat>’: In Skm (SnE 1998, I, 4) this is the name of one of the three vats in which the giant Suttungr stores the mead of poetry before Óðinn steals it. But de Vries (ARG II, 72) and Frank (1981, 162) may be right to interpret Óðrœrir as the mead of poetry itself, which is certainly plausible with respect to the name’s origins (see below). On the basis of the ms. spellings, several eds have chosen Óðreris (SnE 1848-87, I; SnE 1931; SnE 1998), others Óðrøris (Skj B; LP). But Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1915b, 82) and Lindroth (1915, 176) are justified in choosing Óðrœris in light of the name’s composition. It is a cpd of óðr ‘soul, poem’ and hrœra ‘to move’, but scholars diverge on the interpretation. Two suggestions are (a) ‘that which moves the soul’ (LP: Óðrørir; North 1991, 47) or (b) ‘he who stirs, mixes poetry’ (Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1915b, 83; LP: hrœra 2). (c) However, in view of the generic meaning of hrœra, ‘to move’, the sense ‘that which sets the poem in motion’ is preferable. This would suggest that Óðrœrir denoted ‘mead of poetry’ at the time it was coined. It is unclear what the two further instances of Óðrœrir (Hávm 107/4, 140/6) denote, but they seem to indicate ‘mead of poetry’ rather than the vat from the myth (cf. S-G I, 129, 140). It seems that already Einarr skálaglamm uses Óðrœrir as the name of the vat. — [3, 4] ǫldrhafs Óðrœris ‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM]’: Here again, as in all other introductory stanzas (see Notes to st. 1 [All] and 1/1, 3, 4), we find a kenning for ‘poem’ combined with metaphors for the recitation of the poem: alda … hafs þýtr við fles ‘the wave of the … sea booms against the skerry’. Hafs, although here given as a part of the kenning for ‘poem’, strictly belongs to the imagery of recitation. The kenning for ‘poem’, ǫldr Óðrœris ‘the ale of Óðrœrir’, is inserted into this metaphorical image and fles ‘the skerry’ is used as the base-word of a kenning for ‘teeth’.

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Óðrœris ‘of Óðrœrir’

Óðrœrir (noun m.): Óðrœrir

[3] Óðrœris: so Tˣ, U, ‘odreris’ R, W, B

kennings

ǫldrhafs Óðrœris
‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir ’
   = POEM

the ale-sea of Óðrœrir → POEM

notes

[3] Óðrœris ‘of Óðrœrir <mythical vat>’: In Skm (SnE 1998, I, 4) this is the name of one of the three vats in which the giant Suttungr stores the mead of poetry before Óðinn steals it. But de Vries (ARG II, 72) and Frank (1981, 162) may be right to interpret Óðrœrir as the mead of poetry itself, which is certainly plausible with respect to the name’s origins (see below). On the basis of the ms. spellings, several eds have chosen Óðreris (SnE 1848-87, I; SnE 1931; SnE 1998), others Óðrøris (Skj B; LP). But Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1915b, 82) and Lindroth (1915, 176) are justified in choosing Óðrœris in light of the name’s composition. It is a cpd of óðr ‘soul, poem’ and hrœra ‘to move’, but scholars diverge on the interpretation. Two suggestions are (a) ‘that which moves the soul’ (LP: Óðrørir; North 1991, 47) or (b) ‘he who stirs, mixes poetry’ (Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1915b, 83; LP: hrœra 2). (c) However, in view of the generic meaning of hrœra, ‘to move’, the sense ‘that which sets the poem in motion’ is preferable. This would suggest that Óðrœrir denoted ‘mead of poetry’ at the time it was coined. It is unclear what the two further instances of Óðrœrir (Hávm 107/4, 140/6) denote, but they seem to indicate ‘mead of poetry’ rather than the vat from the myth (cf. S-G I, 129, 140). It seems that already Einarr skálaglamm uses Óðrœrir as the name of the vat. — [3, 4] ǫldrhafs Óðrœris ‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM]’: Here again, as in all other introductory stanzas (see Notes to st. 1 [All] and 1/1, 3, 4), we find a kenning for ‘poem’ combined with metaphors for the recitation of the poem: alda … hafs þýtr við fles ‘the wave of the … sea booms against the skerry’. Hafs, although here given as a part of the kenning for ‘poem’, strictly belongs to the imagery of recitation. The kenning for ‘poem’, ǫldr Óðrœris ‘the ale of Óðrœrir’, is inserted into this metaphorical image and fles ‘the skerry’ is used as the base-word of a kenning for ‘teeth’.

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ǫldr ‘of the ale’

ǫlðr (noun n.; °-s/-): ale < ǫlðr (noun n.): ale

[4] ǫldr‑: aldr‑ all

kennings

ǫldrhafs Óðrœris
‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir ’
   = POEM

the ale-sea of Óðrœrir → POEM

notes

[3, 4] ǫldrhafs Óðrœris ‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM]’: Here again, as in all other introductory stanzas (see Notes to st. 1 [All] and 1/1, 3, 4), we find a kenning for ‘poem’ combined with metaphors for the recitation of the poem: alda … hafs þýtr við fles ‘the wave of the … sea booms against the skerry’. Hafs, although here given as a part of the kenning for ‘poem’, strictly belongs to the imagery of recitation. The kenning for ‘poem’, ǫldr Óðrœris ‘the ale of Óðrœrir’, is inserted into this metaphorical image and fles ‘the skerry’ is used as the base-word of a kenning for ‘teeth’. — [4] ǫldrhafs ‘of the ale-sea’: The mss’ aldr and hafs have been subject to various interpretations. The main challenge in ll. 3-4 is aldr (l. 4), found in all mss, which interpreters have construed variously. (a) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) incorporates aldr into the intercalary clause in ll. 1, 2, giving verk hagna vísa aldr ‘deeds will always ornament the prince’. (b) Reichardt (1928, 199) also takes it to be an adv. ‘constantly’, but modifying þýtr ‘booms’. Finnur Jónsson (1934a, 18) rightly objects that this could not apply to the recitation of a poem. (c) Kock (NN §391) emends it to ǫldr ‘ale’ and links it to hafs ‘sea’. Kock first linked the cpd ǫldrhafs to Óðrœrir, but later (NN §2916) to vágr ‘wave’ in l. 1 (see Note to ll. 1-2). This edn follows Kock’s emendation but not his further suggestions. (d) Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 162) considers verk Rǫgnis aldrhafs as a kenning for ‘poetry’, though he provides no exact interpretation of it. It could only mean ‘work of the ale-sea of Óðinn [POEM]’, and as such would not match the structure of this type of kenning, in which ‘mead of poetry’ already stands for ‘poem’.

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ǫldr ‘of the ale’

ǫlðr (noun n.; °-s/-): ale < ǫlðr (noun n.): ale

[4] ǫldr‑: aldr‑ all

kennings

ǫldrhafs Óðrœris
‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir ’
   = POEM

the ale-sea of Óðrœrir → POEM

notes

[3, 4] ǫldrhafs Óðrœris ‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM]’: Here again, as in all other introductory stanzas (see Notes to st. 1 [All] and 1/1, 3, 4), we find a kenning for ‘poem’ combined with metaphors for the recitation of the poem: alda … hafs þýtr við fles ‘the wave of the … sea booms against the skerry’. Hafs, although here given as a part of the kenning for ‘poem’, strictly belongs to the imagery of recitation. The kenning for ‘poem’, ǫldr Óðrœris ‘the ale of Óðrœrir’, is inserted into this metaphorical image and fles ‘the skerry’ is used as the base-word of a kenning for ‘teeth’. — [4] ǫldrhafs ‘of the ale-sea’: The mss’ aldr and hafs have been subject to various interpretations. The main challenge in ll. 3-4 is aldr (l. 4), found in all mss, which interpreters have construed variously. (a) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) incorporates aldr into the intercalary clause in ll. 1, 2, giving verk hagna vísa aldr ‘deeds will always ornament the prince’. (b) Reichardt (1928, 199) also takes it to be an adv. ‘constantly’, but modifying þýtr ‘booms’. Finnur Jónsson (1934a, 18) rightly objects that this could not apply to the recitation of a poem. (c) Kock (NN §391) emends it to ǫldr ‘ale’ and links it to hafs ‘sea’. Kock first linked the cpd ǫldrhafs to Óðrœrir, but later (NN §2916) to vágr ‘wave’ in l. 1 (see Note to ll. 1-2). This edn follows Kock’s emendation but not his further suggestions. (d) Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 162) considers verk Rǫgnis aldrhafs as a kenning for ‘poetry’, though he provides no exact interpretation of it. It could only mean ‘work of the ale-sea of Óðinn [POEM]’, and as such would not match the structure of this type of kenning, in which ‘mead of poetry’ already stands for ‘poem’.

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hafs ‘sea’

haf (noun n.; °-s; *-): sea < ǫlðr (noun n.): alehaf (noun n.; °-s; *-): sea < aldrhaf (noun n.)

kennings

ǫldrhafs Óðrœris
‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir ’
   = POEM

the ale-sea of Óðrœrir → POEM

notes

[3, 4] ǫldrhafs Óðrœris ‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM]’: Here again, as in all other introductory stanzas (see Notes to st. 1 [All] and 1/1, 3, 4), we find a kenning for ‘poem’ combined with metaphors for the recitation of the poem: alda … hafs þýtr við fles ‘the wave of the … sea booms against the skerry’. Hafs, although here given as a part of the kenning for ‘poem’, strictly belongs to the imagery of recitation. The kenning for ‘poem’, ǫldr Óðrœris ‘the ale of Óðrœrir’, is inserted into this metaphorical image and fles ‘the skerry’ is used as the base-word of a kenning for ‘teeth’. — [4] ǫldrhafs ‘of the ale-sea’: The mss’ aldr and hafs have been subject to various interpretations. The main challenge in ll. 3-4 is aldr (l. 4), found in all mss, which interpreters have construed variously. (a) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) incorporates aldr into the intercalary clause in ll. 1, 2, giving verk hagna vísa aldr ‘deeds will always ornament the prince’. (b) Reichardt (1928, 199) also takes it to be an adv. ‘constantly’, but modifying þýtr ‘booms’. Finnur Jónsson (1934a, 18) rightly objects that this could not apply to the recitation of a poem. (c) Kock (NN §391) emends it to ǫldr ‘ale’ and links it to hafs ‘sea’. Kock first linked the cpd ǫldrhafs to Óðrœrir, but later (NN §2916) to vágr ‘wave’ in l. 1 (see Note to ll. 1-2). This edn follows Kock’s emendation but not his further suggestions. (d) Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 162) considers verk Rǫgnis aldrhafs as a kenning for ‘poetry’, though he provides no exact interpretation of it. It could only mean ‘work of the ale-sea of Óðinn [POEM]’, and as such would not match the structure of this type of kenning, in which ‘mead of poetry’ already stands for ‘poem’.

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hafs ‘sea’

haf (noun n.; °-s; *-): sea < ǫlðr (noun n.): alehaf (noun n.; °-s; *-): sea < aldrhaf (noun n.)

kennings

ǫldrhafs Óðrœris
‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir ’
   = POEM

the ale-sea of Óðrœrir → POEM

notes

[3, 4] ǫldrhafs Óðrœris ‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM]’: Here again, as in all other introductory stanzas (see Notes to st. 1 [All] and 1/1, 3, 4), we find a kenning for ‘poem’ combined with metaphors for the recitation of the poem: alda … hafs þýtr við fles ‘the wave of the … sea booms against the skerry’. Hafs, although here given as a part of the kenning for ‘poem’, strictly belongs to the imagery of recitation. The kenning for ‘poem’, ǫldr Óðrœris ‘the ale of Óðrœrir’, is inserted into this metaphorical image and fles ‘the skerry’ is used as the base-word of a kenning for ‘teeth’. — [4] ǫldrhafs ‘of the ale-sea’: The mss’ aldr and hafs have been subject to various interpretations. The main challenge in ll. 3-4 is aldr (l. 4), found in all mss, which interpreters have construed variously. (a) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) incorporates aldr into the intercalary clause in ll. 1, 2, giving verk hagna vísa aldr ‘deeds will always ornament the prince’. (b) Reichardt (1928, 199) also takes it to be an adv. ‘constantly’, but modifying þýtr ‘booms’. Finnur Jónsson (1934a, 18) rightly objects that this could not apply to the recitation of a poem. (c) Kock (NN §391) emends it to ǫldr ‘ale’ and links it to hafs ‘sea’. Kock first linked the cpd ǫldrhafs to Óðrœrir, but later (NN §2916) to vágr ‘wave’ in l. 1 (see Note to ll. 1-2). This edn follows Kock’s emendation but not his further suggestions. (d) Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 162) considers verk Rǫgnis aldrhafs as a kenning for ‘poetry’, though he provides no exact interpretation of it. It could only mean ‘work of the ale-sea of Óðinn [POEM]’, and as such would not match the structure of this type of kenning, in which ‘mead of poetry’ already stands for ‘poem’.

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fles ‘the skerry’

fles (noun f.; °; -jar): [skerry, skerries]

[4] fles: flest Tˣ

kennings

fles galdra.
‘the skerry of incantations. ’
   = TEETH

the skerry of incantations. → TEETH

notes

[4] fles galdra ‘the skerry of incantations [TEETH]’: This kenning is a so-called nýgerving ‘new creation, new construction’ based on the image that the poem is a sea pouring out of the poet’s mouth. The ‘skerry’ against which this sea breaks are hence ‘teeth’ (cf. also Marold 1994a, 475).

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galdra ‘of incantations’

galdr (noun m.): chant, incantation

kennings

fles galdra.
‘the skerry of incantations. ’
   = TEETH

the skerry of incantations. → TEETH

notes

[4] fles galdra ‘the skerry of incantations [TEETH]’: This kenning is a so-called nýgerving ‘new creation, new construction’ based on the image that the poem is a sea pouring out of the poet’s mouth. The ‘skerry’ against which this sea breaks are hence ‘teeth’ (cf. also Marold 1994a, 475).

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

See Context to st. 1.

[1-2]: The lines are difficult and the solution proposed here (and explained at (c) below) tentative. (a) Finnur Jónsson (1891a, 155; Skj B; Finnur Jónsson 1924a, 325-7; 1934a, 18) reads vágr Rǫgnis eisar fyr mér; verk hagna vísa aldr ‘the wave of Rǫgnir [POEM] crashes before me; the deeds are advantageous for the leader for all time’. This has drawn two justified objections, however: it splits the prepositional phrase fyr vísa ‘before the ruler’, and it includes ms. aldr (l. 4) in the intercalary clause, making it extremely fragmented (Reichardt 1928, 199; NN §391). (b) Kock’s interpretation (NN §391), vágr eisar fyr vísa; verk Rǫgnis mér hagna ‘the wave breaks upon the leader; I succeed at Óðinn’s works [POETRY]’, assumes simpler word order, but requires the determinant of the first poem-kenning (with base-word vágr ‘wave’) to be supplied from the context (see Reichardt 1928, 199-200). It also assumes that verk Rǫgnis ‘Óðinn’s deeds’ is a poetry-kenning, although verk would not be paralleled as a base-word in such a kenning (see Meissner 429). Kock later (NN §2916) took ǫldrhafs ‘of the ale-sea’ (l. 4, emended from aldr-) as the determinant of vágr, followed by Ohlmarks (1958, 363) and Frank (1981, 162). However, ‘wave of the ale-sea’ cannot be a kenning for ‘poem’, cf. Faulkes, SnE 1998, I, 162. (c) The simpler interpretation of the first two lines given here matches that of Reichardt (1928, 199; also Davidson 1983, 238, 241). It has the disadvantage that in l. 2 verk hagna mér ‘works are successful for me’ (i. e. I succeed in making my poem), a typical phrase for a parenthesis, is interrupted, producing a tripartite line. However, this seems marginally less problematic than the incomplete kenning assumed by Kock, especially given the careful and elaborate kenning structure of sts 1-3. — [3]: The line lacks a hending, but the emendation suggested by Lindquist (1929, 44) and Kock (NN §1884A) in order to correct this, to þýrr alda Óðhrœris, is strained and is therefore rejected. It rearranges two words, and þýrr runs counter to all mss.

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