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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hár Lv 1I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hárekr í Þjóttu, Lausavísur 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. 808.

Hárekr í ÞjóttuLausavísur

text and translation

Ráðit hefk at ríða
Rínleygs heðan mínum
láðs dynmari, leiðar,
lǫngum, heldr an ganga,
þótt leggfjǫturs liggi
lundr í Eyrarsundi
— kann þjóð kerski minni —
Knútr herskipum úti.

Hefk ráðit at ríða heðan {lǫngum dynmari {láðs {Rínleygs}} mínum}, heldr an ganga leiðar, þótt {lundr {leggfjǫturs}}, Knútr, liggi herskipum úti í Eyrarsundi; þjóð kann kerski minni.
‘I have resolved to ride from here my long resounding steed of the land of Rhine-flame [GOLD > SEA > SHIP], rather than to walk on my way, though the grove of the limb-fetter [ARM-RING > MAN], Knútr, may lie with warships out in the Øresund; people know my spirit.

notes and context

Confronted by a mighty Danish fleet lying in the Eyrarsund (Øresund), King Óláfr Haraldsson decides on a strategic retreat overland, but the veteran Hárekr refuses to abandon his ships. He speaks Lv 1 before he sets sail in ÓH-Hkr and Fsk, but after in ÓHLeg. In TGT, the first couplet illustrates the barbarismus consisting of the dropping of a syllable (aftekning samstǫfu); after the citation it is explained that this is necessary to avoid a superfluous syllable, and (though not in W) that the word in question is Rín- in place of Rínar

[1-2]: Ms. 744ˣ, a copy of B by Jón Ólafsson, is used to supply readings (whether these match or differ from the main text) where B is not legible.  — [1-4]: The helmingr clearly declares that the skald will travel by sea rather than on foot, and contains a ship-kenning of which ‑mari (dat. sg.) ‘steed’ in l. 3 is the base-word, aptly matched by the verb ríða ‘ride’, which takes a dat. object. Rínleygs ‘Rhine-flame’ in l. 2 is a stereotypical gold-kenning, but it is not certain whether it supplies part of the necessary determinant of the ship-kenning, and láðs ‘land’ and leiðar ‘way’ in l. 3 are problematic. Neither of the two main analyses of the helmingr is wholly convincing. (a) The analysis above, which avoids emendation, is essentially that proposed by Kock (NN §773; Skald) and taken up in ÍF 27, ÍF 29 and Hkr 1991. Láð Rínleygs ‘land of Rhine-flame [GOLD]’ is taken as a kenning, albeit unparalleled, for ‘sea’, on the basis that since ‘gold’ can be ‘flame of the sea/water’ (as in Rínleygs itself), the sea can be ‘land of gold’. This sea-kenning then acts as determinant for dynmari ‘noise-steed, resounding steed’ to represent ‘ship’, hence lǫngum dynmari láðs Rínleygs ‘long resounding steed of the land of Rhine-flame [GOLD > SEA > SHIP]’. Leiðar (f. gen. sg.) is then taken by Kock as the equivalent of leiðangr, a seaborne expedition, specifying the ship-kenning as a warship. Kock compares Tindr Hákdr 4/7 leiðar langra skeiða, which he takes to mean ‘of long expedition ships’. A variation on this analysis is to take leiðar as an adverbial gen. sg. of leið in the sense ‘way, path’ hence ‘on my way’, qualifying ganga ‘go, walk’ (cf. NS §141), and this is adopted above. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: leiðir) emended leiðar to leiðir which, tentatively interpreted as ‘hater’, yields a man-kenning leiðir Rínleygs ‘hater of Rhine-flame [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’. This functions as an apostrophe, presumably to King Óláfr, who is present in Fsk and ÓH-Hkr but not in ÓHLeg (Context above). Finnur (LP: dynmarr) construed dyn- ‘noise, noisy, roaring’ in dynmari, with láðs ‘of the land’, hence láðs dynmari ‘steed of the land of noise [(lit. ‘noise-steed of the land’) SEA > SHIP]’, though this depends on equating dyn(r) with terms for waves or the surging sea, such as brim (cf. Meissner 93).



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: Hárekr Eyvindarson í Þjóttu, Lausavísur 1: AI, 308, BI, 286, Skald I, 146, NN §§773, 774; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 377, IV, 146-7, ÍF 27, 289-90, Hkr 1991, II, 463-4 (ÓHHkr ch. 158); Fms 4, 371, Fms 12, 90, ÓH 1941, I, 451 (ch. 150), Flat 1860-8, II, 286; Fsk 1902-3, 167 (ch. 27), ÍF 29, 188 (ch. 32); ÓHLeg 1922, 61-2, ÓHLeg 1982, 148-9; SnE 1848-87, II, 98-9, TGT 1884, 13, 64, 164-5, TGT 1927, 42, TGT 1998, 104-5.


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