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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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SnSt Ht 3III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1107.

Snorri SturlusonHáttatal

text and translation

Úlfs bága verr ægis
ítrbáls hati málu;
sett eru bǫrð fyr bratta
brún Míms vinar rúnu.
Orms váða kann eiðu
allvaldr gǫfugr halda;
menstríðir, njót móður
mellu dólgs til elli.

{Hati {ítrbáls ægis}} verr {málu {bága úlfs}}; bǫrð eru sett fyr bratta brún {rúnu {vinar Míms}}. Gǫfugr allvaldr kann halda {eiðu {váða orms}}; {menstríðir}, njót {móður {dólgs mellu}} til elli.
‘The hater of the precious pyre of the sea [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] defends the wife of the wolf’s enemy [= Óðinn > = Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)]; prows are placed before the steep edge of the confidante of Mímir’s <mythical being’s> friend [= Óðinn > = Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)]. The glorious mighty ruler can hold the mother of the serpent’s harmer [= Þórr > = Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)]; necklace-destroyer [GENEROUS MAN], enjoy the mother of the giantess’s enemy [= Þórr > = Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)] until old age.

notes and context

According to the prose commentary, the stanza illustrates rekit ‘extended’ constructions (e.g. kennings with more than two determinants). At first sight, none of the kennings in the stanza appears to be an extended kenning; rather, most of them are tvíkent with two determinants (see SnE 2007, 48). However, it appears from the commentary in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 109) that Snorri indeed regarded ofljóst ‘too transparent’ constructions involving two single homonyms as tvíkent, and hence all the ofljóst constructions with an additional element would fit his definition of rekit (see also Note to [All] below).

The mss give the following headings: iij. rekit ‘three, extended’ () and rekit (U(47r)). — Throughout the stanza, Snorri employs a series of ofljóst constructions (see Context above), playing on the homonyms Jǫrð (the name of Óðinn’s consort and mother of the god Þórr) and jǫrð ‘earth’. For a similar imagery of a ruler taking possession of or governing the land conceived of as a woman, see Note to Anon Nkt 8/1, 2II, Hfr Hákdr and Frank (1978, 57-60).



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: Snorri Sturluson, 2. Háttatal 3: AII, 53, BII, 61, Skald II, 36, NN §3260A; SnE 1848-87, I, 600-3, II, 369, 374, III, 111-12, SnE 1879-81, I, 1, 74, II, 3, SnE 1931, 216, SnE 2007, 5; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 3-4.


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