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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Glúmr Gráf 3I

Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Glúmr Geirason, Gráfeldardrápa 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. 251.

Glúmr GeirasonGráfeldardrápa

text and translation

Dolgeisu rak dísar
— drótt kom mǫrg á flótta —
gumna vinr at gamni
gjóðum írsk*ar þjóðir.
Foldar rauð, ok felldi,
Freyr í manna dreyra
sverð, — vas sigr of orðinn —
seggi, mækis eggjar.

{Vinr gumna} rak írsk*ar þjóðir at gamni {gjóðum {dísar {dolgeisu}}}; mǫrg drótt kom á flótta. {Freyr {foldar eggjar mækis}} rauð sverð í dreyra manna ok felldi seggi; sigr vas of orðinn.
‘The friend of men [RULER = Haraldr] pursued Irish troops to the enjoyment of ospreys of the goddess of the battle-fire [SWORD > VALKYRIE > RAVENS/EAGLES]; many a war-band took to flight. The Freyr <god> of the land of the blade of the sword [SHIELD > WARRIOR] reddened the sword in the blood of men and killed warriors; victory came about.

notes and context

This stanza follows immediately after st. 2.

See Note to st. 2. — [1-4]: Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26; see also Fms) avoids the emendation of ms. írskrar þjóðar (see Note to l. 4) by taking rak dolgeisu together to mean ‘waged war, harried’. He sees this as parallel to vann rógeisu ‘made battle-fire, fierce conflict’, i.e. ‘proceeded with fire and the sword’ in st. 2/5 above (ÍF 26, 155 n.). However, dolg and róg both mean ‘battle’, and when compounded with eisa ‘fire’ form a well-attested pattern of sword-kenning (Meissner 150, which includes these two examples). Further, Bjarni’s interpretation leaves gjóðir dísar ‘ospreys of the dís’ as a raven-kenning in which dís, a female being, usually supernatural (LP: dís), signifies ‘valkyrie’ without a determinant. There are no other certain examples of this, and it is more satisfactory to read dolgeisa in the sense ‘sword’ as the determinant of the valkyrie-kenning. — [2]: The line is identical to Hókr Eirfl 7/8 and almost identical to Hfr ErfÓl 1/2. — [5-8]: The difficulty of this helmingr is reflected in the variety of readings for l. 7. There are at least four possibilities. (a) The interpretation adopted here, like (b) and (c), is based on the reading of 61 and Flat in l. 7. A slight drawback is that the shield-kenning is somewhat overdetermined, since mækis ‘of the sword’ and possibly eggjar ‘of the blade’ would suffice as the determinant (cf. Meissner 173-4). However, eggja mækis ‘of the sword’s blades’ occurs as the determinant of a kenning in st. 10/2. (b) In the interpretation of Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) the warrior-kenning is Freyr sverðfoldar ‘the Freyr <god> of the sword-land [SHIELD > WARRIOR]’, but this assumes that sverð ‘sword’, the first possible object for rauð ‘reddened’, would be understood not as an object but part of a kenning with tmesis (of which this would be an unusually early example; cf. the criticism by Kock in NN §255). (c) Kock offers the simpler reading foldar Freyr rauð sverð í manna dreyra ok fel(l)di seggi mækis eggjum ‘the Freyr of the land reddened the sword in men’s blood and brought men down with the sword’s blades’. He takes eggju ‘blade’ in Flat as dat. pl. eggjum, though the f. dat. sg. eggju can be retained with the same sense. As a ruler-kenning, Freyr foldar ‘Freyr of the land’ resembles forms such as vǫrðr grundar ‘guardian of ground’ (st. 5/4 below), but differs crucially in having a god-name as base-word, more usual in warrior-kennings. (d) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 26 follows the reading in l. 7, giving the order foldar Freyr rauð mækis eggjar í manna dreyra ok feldi seggi sunnr, of hlynninn á sigr ‘the Freyr of land reddened the sword’s edges in men’s blood and killed men in the south, fostering victory’. The word *hlynninn does not occur elsewhere but is derived by Bjarni from the rare verb hlynna ‘to launch, help (someone) on their way’, and in ModIcel. ‘to foster’.



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: Glúmr Geirason, 2. Gráfeldardrápa 2: AI, 75-6, BI, 66, Skald I, 41, NN §255; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 174, IV, 45-6, ÍF 26, 156, Hkr 1991, I, 99 (HákGóð ch. 5), F 1871, 67; Fms 1, 25-6, Fms 12, 26, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 25 (ch. 16), Flat 1860-8, I, 52 .


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