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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 34III

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 34’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 343.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur
333435

Akr ‘ploughed field [= (salr ‘hall’)]’

akr (noun m.; °akrs, dat. akri; akrar): field

notes

[1] akr (m. acc. sg.) ‘ploughed field [= (salr ‘hall’)]’: Bibire (1988) keeps the ms. reading by assuming the meaning of ‘field’ as well as ‘hall’ for salr, providing the necessary riddling link. Although he does not cite any specific examples, this is plausible, given the associations of salr with the abodes of giants and dwarfs and the earth in general (LP: salr; see also Note to l. 2, below). Both Skj B and NN §981 emend to akrs (gen.) assuming a kenning síkar akrs ‘fishes of the field [SERPENTS]’, which then forms part of an extended woman-kenning. In Skj B this is Njǫrun fitjar síka akrs ‘the Njǫrun <goddess> of the meadow of the fishes of the field [SERPENTS > GOLD > WOMAN]’, taking ey- as the adv. ey ‘always’. Kock (NN §981) prefers not to separate ey- from ‑fitjar, giving ‘island shore’ rather than ‘meadow’, but otherwise the same kenning.

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opt ‘often’

opt (adv.): often

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sjúkri ‘the sick’

sjúkr (adj.): ill, sick

kennings

sjúkri Njǫrun síka eyfitja –
‘the sick Njǫrun of the fishes of the island-meadows – ’
   = WOMAN

the fishes of the island-meadows – → SERPENTS
the sick Njǫrun of SERPENTS → WOMAN
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ey ‘of the island’

1. ey (noun f.; °-jar, dat. -ju/-; -jar): island < 1. eyfit (noun f.): island-meadow

kennings

sjúkri Njǫrun síka eyfitja –
‘the sick Njǫrun of the fishes of the island-meadows – ’
   = WOMAN

the fishes of the island-meadows – → SERPENTS
the sick Njǫrun of SERPENTS → WOMAN

notes

[2, 4] síka eyfitja ‘of the fishes of the island-meadows [SERPENTS (hringar ‘rings’)]’: The word-play here is on hringar (sg. hringr), which can mean both ‘rings’ and ‘serpents’ (hringr is a heiti for ‘serpent’; see Þul Orma 2/7).

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ey ‘of the island’

1. ey (noun f.; °-jar, dat. -ju/-; -jar): island < 1. eyfit (noun f.): island-meadow

kennings

sjúkri Njǫrun síka eyfitja –
‘the sick Njǫrun of the fishes of the island-meadows – ’
   = WOMAN

the fishes of the island-meadows – → SERPENTS
the sick Njǫrun of SERPENTS → WOMAN

notes

[2, 4] síka eyfitja ‘of the fishes of the island-meadows [SERPENTS (hringar ‘rings’)]’: The word-play here is on hringar (sg. hringr), which can mean both ‘rings’ and ‘serpents’ (hringr is a heiti for ‘serpent’; see Þul Orma 2/7).

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fitja ‘meadows’

1. fit (noun f.; °; -jar): meadow < 1. eyfit (noun f.): island-meadow

[2] ‑fitja: ‑fitjar 743ˣ

kennings

sjúkri Njǫrun síka eyfitja –
‘the sick Njǫrun of the fishes of the island-meadows – ’
   = WOMAN

the fishes of the island-meadows – → SERPENTS
the sick Njǫrun of SERPENTS → WOMAN

notes

[2, 4] síka eyfitja ‘of the fishes of the island-meadows [SERPENTS (hringar ‘rings’)]’: The word-play here is on hringar (sg. hringr), which can mean both ‘rings’ and ‘serpents’ (hringr is a heiti for ‘serpent’; see Þul Orma 2/7).

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fitja ‘meadows’

1. fit (noun f.; °; -jar): meadow < 1. eyfit (noun f.): island-meadow

[2] ‑fitja: ‑fitjar 743ˣ

kennings

sjúkri Njǫrun síka eyfitja –
‘the sick Njǫrun of the fishes of the island-meadows – ’
   = WOMAN

the fishes of the island-meadows – → SERPENTS
the sick Njǫrun of SERPENTS → WOMAN

notes

[2, 4] síka eyfitja ‘of the fishes of the island-meadows [SERPENTS (hringar ‘rings’)]’: The word-play here is on hringar (sg. hringr), which can mean both ‘rings’ and ‘serpents’ (hringr is a heiti for ‘serpent’; see Þul Orma 2/7).

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þó ‘nonetheless’

þó (adv.): though

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sitja ‘sit in’

sitja (verb): sit

notes

[2] sitja ‘sit in’: For the transitive use of sitja, see Skí 3/4-5, where the object is in fact salr ‘hall’.

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rjóð ‘red’

3. rjóðr (adj.): red

notes

[3] rjóð ‘red’: Skj B emends to góð ‘good’, but as Kock (NN §3111) points out, a red face can also be a sign of sickness, i.e. a person is flushed and feverish.

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in ‘the’

2. inn (art.): the

kennings

in mæra menbrík
‘the excellent neck-ring-table ’
   = WOMAN

the excellent neck-ring-table → WOMAN
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mæra ‘excellent’

2. mærr (adj.): famous

kennings

in mæra menbrík
‘the excellent neck-ring-table ’
   = WOMAN

the excellent neck-ring-table → WOMAN
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men ‘neck-ring’

2. men (noun n.; °; dat. menjum): neck-ring < menbrík (noun f.)

[4] menbrík: corrected from ‘menbrík joru’ 743ˣ

kennings

in mæra menbrík
‘the excellent neck-ring-table ’
   = WOMAN

the excellent neck-ring-table → WOMAN
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brík ‘table’

brík (noun f.; °-ar; -r): plank < menbrík (noun f.)

[4] menbrík: corrected from ‘menbrík joru’ 743ˣ

kennings

in mæra menbrík
‘the excellent neck-ring-table ’
   = WOMAN

the excellent neck-ring-table → WOMAN
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Njǫrun ‘Njǫrun’

Njǫrun (noun f.): Njǫrun

kennings

sjúkri Njǫrun síka eyfitja –
‘the sick Njǫrun of the fishes of the island-meadows – ’
   = WOMAN

the fishes of the island-meadows – → SERPENTS
the sick Njǫrun of SERPENTS → WOMAN
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síka ‘of the fishes’

síkr (noun m.): fish, houting

kennings

sjúkri Njǫrun síka eyfitja –
‘the sick Njǫrun of the fishes of the island-meadows – ’
   = WOMAN

the fishes of the island-meadows – → SERPENTS
the sick Njǫrun of SERPENTS → WOMAN

notes

[2, 4] síka eyfitja ‘of the fishes of the island-meadows [SERPENTS (hringar ‘rings’)]’: The word-play here is on hringar (sg. hringr), which can mean both ‘rings’ and ‘serpents’ (hringr is a heiti for ‘serpent’; see Þul Orma 2/7).

Close

síka ‘of the fishes’

síkr (noun m.): fish, houting

kennings

sjúkri Njǫrun síka eyfitja –
‘the sick Njǫrun of the fishes of the island-meadows – ’
   = WOMAN

the fishes of the island-meadows – → SERPENTS
the sick Njǫrun of SERPENTS → WOMAN

notes

[2, 4] síka eyfitja ‘of the fishes of the island-meadows [SERPENTS (hringar ‘rings’)]’: The word-play here is on hringar (sg. hringr), which can mean both ‘rings’ and ‘serpents’ (hringr is a heiti for ‘serpent’; see Þul Orma 2/7).

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heiðis ‘of the hawk’

heiðir (noun m.): hawk

[5] heiðis: ‘herder’ 2368ˣ, ‘heder’ 743ˣ

kennings

mínu hauðri heiðis;
‘my land of the hawk; ’
   = ARM/HAND

my land of the hawk; → ARM/HAND

notes

[5] hauðri heiðis ‘land of the hawk [ARM/HAND (mund ‘dowry’)]’: Some form of emendation is clearly required and here Bibire’s (1988) proposed reading heiðis is accepted. The arm/hand-kenning itself is of a well-established type (Meissner 141-2); the question is what it might mean in this context. Here, it is assumed that the underlying word-play is on mund meaning both ‘arm, hand’ and ‘dowry’, as explained in the preceding passage on woman-kennings (LaufE 1979, 293-4): … enn þui er riett ad kienna konu vid hónd … ad þad ä heiti saman og eign konunnar. svo sem hónd heitir mund, og so heimanfilgia hennar ‘… and therefore it is correct to refer to woman in terms of hand … because that (word) shares a synonym with the woman’s property, in that hand is called mund, as is her dowry’ (also SnE 1848-87, II, 632 and LaufE 1979, 377; discussed in Meissner 419). It is further suggested here that this is then used metonymically for ‘woman’, although close parallels are lacking. Alternatively, it could be viewed as a further reduced form of the compressed woman-kennings of the type ‘goddess of the arm’ (Meissner 419-20). Bibire (1988) claims the kenning ‘might be literal’, and translates ‘leaning on my arm’, though this is hard to reconcile with the syntax and the meanings of fylgjask ‘be with, accompany’. He also suggests word-play on armr ‘arm’ and harmr ‘sorrow’, giving ‘to accompany my grief’. Other interpretations offered in Skj B and NN §982 are even less convincing.

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fylgjask ‘to be with’

2. fylgja (verb): follow, accompany

[5] fylgjask: ‘fylgrat’ 743ˣ

notes

[5] fylgjask ‘to be with’: This inf. must be syntactically dependent on verðk ‘I have to’ in the previous helmingr (l. 1) and parallel to sitja (l. 2) (‘I have to sit’; ‘I have to be with’) or an inf. further expanding the meaning of verðk sitja … fylgjask ‘I have to sit … to be with’.

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hauðri ‘land’

hauðr (noun n.): earth, ground

kennings

mínu hauðri heiðis;
‘my land of the hawk; ’
   = ARM/HAND

my land of the hawk; → ARM/HAND

notes

[5] hauðri heiðis ‘land of the hawk [ARM/HAND (mund ‘dowry’)]’: Some form of emendation is clearly required and here Bibire’s (1988) proposed reading heiðis is accepted. The arm/hand-kenning itself is of a well-established type (Meissner 141-2); the question is what it might mean in this context. Here, it is assumed that the underlying word-play is on mund meaning both ‘arm, hand’ and ‘dowry’, as explained in the preceding passage on woman-kennings (LaufE 1979, 293-4): … enn þui er riett ad kienna konu vid hónd … ad þad ä heiti saman og eign konunnar. svo sem hónd heitir mund, og so heimanfilgia hennar ‘… and therefore it is correct to refer to woman in terms of hand … because that (word) shares a synonym with the woman’s property, in that hand is called mund, as is her dowry’ (also SnE 1848-87, II, 632 and LaufE 1979, 377; discussed in Meissner 419). It is further suggested here that this is then used metonymically for ‘woman’, although close parallels are lacking. Alternatively, it could be viewed as a further reduced form of the compressed woman-kennings of the type ‘goddess of the arm’ (Meissner 419-20). Bibire (1988) claims the kenning ‘might be literal’, and translates ‘leaning on my arm’, though this is hard to reconcile with the syntax and the meanings of fylgjask ‘be with, accompany’. He also suggests word-play on armr ‘arm’ and harmr ‘sorrow’, giving ‘to accompany my grief’. Other interpretations offered in Skj B and NN §982 are even less convincing.

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hauk ‘hawk [= (harmr ‘sorrow’)]’

1. haukr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i/-; -ar): hawk

notes

[6] hauk ‘hawk [= (harmr ‘sorrow’)]’: Here the word-play is more straightforward, because harmr ‘sorrow’ is also a heiti for ‘hawk’ (Þul Hauks 1/1).

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tínik ‘I proclaim’

tína (verb): pick, recount

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svá ‘in this way’

svá (adv.): so, thus

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mínu ‘my’

minn (pron.; °f. mín, n. mitt): my

kennings

mínu hauðri heiðis;
‘my land of the hawk; ’
   = ARM/HAND

my land of the hawk; → ARM/HAND
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setrs ‘the seat’

setr (noun n.; °-s; -): seat, abode

notes

[7] leitandi setrs sútar ‘looking for the seat of grief’: Bibire (1988) suggests that this means ‘seeking a resting-place for sorrow’, i.e. ‘seeking sorrow’s end’ while Kock (NN §982) assumes rather that the poet is seeking the cause of the sickness. The former seems more plausible, though again close parallels are lacking.

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leitandi ‘looking for’

leita (verb): seek, look for, attack

notes

[7] leitandi setrs sútar ‘looking for the seat of grief’: Bibire (1988) suggests that this means ‘seeking a resting-place for sorrow’, i.e. ‘seeking sorrow’s end’ while Kock (NN §982) assumes rather that the poet is seeking the cause of the sickness. The former seems more plausible, though again close parallels are lacking.

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sútar ‘of grief’

1. sút (noun f.; °-ar; -ir): sorrow

notes

[7] leitandi setrs sútar ‘looking for the seat of grief’: Bibire (1988) suggests that this means ‘seeking a resting-place for sorrow’, i.e. ‘seeking sorrow’s end’ while Kock (NN §982) assumes rather that the poet is seeking the cause of the sickness. The former seems more plausible, though again close parallels are lacking.

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slœgr ‘cunning’

2. slœgr (adj.): skilful

notes

[8] slœgr ‘cunning’: Why the poet should describe himself thus in this context is not clear, unless it is in relation to the particularly complex word-play of this stanza.

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

Both redactions of LaufE mention a figure called rekit, which is said often to be used in riddles, exemplified in LaufE Y by Refr Frag 2 and a proverbial statement in prose, and in LaufE X (LaufE 1979, 294) by Refr Frag 2. It is further explained that Þad hafa menn mióg j qvedskap þeir er mirt vilia qveda [Y: yrckia], ad nefna þann hlut er heiti ä vid hinn er merker soguna ‘Those people who want to recite obscurely often compose in such a way that they call the thing which is named by that which signifies the statement’, followed by the citation of Rv Lv 34-5 in LaufE Y and Rv Lv 35 in LaufE X. See also Note to [All] below.

Structurally the stanza is highly unusual because the syntax obscures the metrical caesura between the two helmingar (cf. Kuhn 1983, 207-8), i.e. there is no syntactic break between the half-stanzas (see Note to l. 5 below). — Although the stanza is cited as an example of rekit (normally used of an extended kenning; see SnE 1998, I, 74, SnE 2007, 5, 134 as well as Context to RvHbreiðm Hl 33), the explanations (see Context, above) rather suggest ofljóst, a form of word-play in which a homonym of the intended solution is substituted by a synonym or circumlocutory phrase (SnE 1998, I, 109; SnE 2007, 12-13). The interpretation of this stanza largely follows that of Bibire (1988), which entails a minimum of emendation and best accords with the Context and the assumed riddling nature of the stanza. The situation described appears to be one in which the poet is sitting by the sick-bed of a woman, possibly his wife.

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