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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sturl Hrafn 17II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hrafnsmál 17’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 741-2.

Sturla ÞórðarsonHrafnsmál
161718

Sendi ‘sent’

senda (verb): send

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snarlynda ‘a quick-witted’

snarlyndr (adj.): quick-witted

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blik ‘gleam’

blik (noun n.): gleam < blikskerðir (noun m.): [gleam-diminisher]

kennings

Inn sigrmæti blikskerðir
‘The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher → GENEROUS MAN

notes

[2] blikskerðir ‘gleam-diminisher [GENEROUS MAN]’: So NN §1360. According to this interpretation, blik- ‘gleam-’ is taken to mean ‘gold’ (see also LP: blik 1). Skj B emends bryn- ‘the byrnie-’ (l. 4) to brims ‘of the surf’ and construes the gold-kenning blik brims ‘the gleam of the surf’. Sverða ‘of swords’ (l. 2) is then taken with hríðar ‘of the storm’ (l. 4) (til hríðar sverða ‘to the storm of swords’, i.e. ‘to the battle’). This construction forces a separation of the unstressed prep. til ‘to’ from its object hríðar ‘the storm’ which does not otherwise occur in poetry. A more plausible emendation would be to change blik- to brík-: sverða bríkskerðir ‘the diminisher of the plank of swords’, i.e. ‘the diminisher of the shield’ (‘warrior’).

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skerðir ‘diminisher’

skerðir (noun m.): diminisher < blikskerðir (noun m.): [gleam-diminisher]

kennings

Inn sigrmæti blikskerðir
‘The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher → GENEROUS MAN

notes

[2] blikskerðir ‘gleam-diminisher [GENEROUS MAN]’: So NN §1360. According to this interpretation, blik- ‘gleam-’ is taken to mean ‘gold’ (see also LP: blik 1). Skj B emends bryn- ‘the byrnie-’ (l. 4) to brims ‘of the surf’ and construes the gold-kenning blik brims ‘the gleam of the surf’. Sverða ‘of swords’ (l. 2) is then taken with hríðar ‘of the storm’ (l. 4) (til hríðar sverða ‘to the storm of swords’, i.e. ‘to the battle’). This construction forces a separation of the unstressed prep. til ‘to’ from its object hríðar ‘the storm’ which does not otherwise occur in poetry. A more plausible emendation would be to change blik- to brík-: sverða bríkskerðir ‘the diminisher of the plank of swords’, i.e. ‘the diminisher of the shield’ (‘warrior’).

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inn ‘The’

2. inn (art.): the

kennings

Inn sigrmæti blikskerðir
‘The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher → GENEROUS MAN

notes

[3] inn sigrmæti ‘the victory-glorious’: Hap. leg.

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sigrmæti ‘victory-glorious’

sigrmætr (adj.): [victory-glorious]

kennings

Inn sigrmæti blikskerðir
‘The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

The victory-glorious gleam-diminisher → GENEROUS MAN

notes

[3] inn sigrmæti ‘the victory-glorious’: Hap. leg.

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síð ‘finally’

2. síð (adv.): late

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brynhríðar ‘the byrnie-storm’

brynhríð (noun f.): mailcoat-storm

kennings

brynhríðar.
‘the byrnie-storm. ’
   = BATTLE

the byrnie-storm. → BATTLE
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Drap ‘was’

drepa (verb; °drepr; drap, drápu; drepinn): kill, strike

[5] Drap í (‘drꜳpi’): so Flat, drap ina F, 304ˣ

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í ‘’

í (prep.): in, into

[5] Drap í (‘drꜳpi’): so Flat, drap ina F, 304ˣ

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greypa ‘gravely’

greypr (adj.; °compar. -ari): cruel

[5] greypa: so Flat, miklu F, 304ˣ

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þengils ‘The ruler’s’

þengill (noun m.): prince, ruler

[6] þengils: þengill 304ˣ

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drótt ‘the retinue’

1. drótt (noun f.): troop

notes

[7] drótt (f. acc. sg.) ‘the retinue’: Kock (NN §1361) takes this with the first cl. of the helmingr: lof þengils drótt drengja ‘the ruler’s praise of the retinue of the warriors’. However, lof ‘praise’ in the sense ‘praise of sby’ is construed with the gen. and not with the acc. or dat. (see Fritzner: lof).

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‘he’

1. sá (pron.; °gen. þess, dat. þeim, acc. þann; f. sú, gen. þeirrar, acc. þá; n. þat, dat. því; pl. m. þeir, f. þǽ---): that (one), those

notes

[7] sá er ‘he who’: We would have expected the dem. pron. in the gen. (þess) to agree with the antecendent þengils (m. gen. sg.) ‘the ruler’s’ (l. 6), but in poetry the dem. could also occur in the nom. as the subject of the rel. cl. (see NS §260).

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er ‘who’

2. er (conj.): who, which, when

notes

[7] sá er ‘he who’: We would have expected the dem. pron. in the gen. (þess) to agree with the antecendent þengils (m. gen. sg.) ‘the ruler’s’ (l. 6), but in poetry the dem. could also occur in the nom. as the subject of the rel. cl. (see NS §260).

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dal ‘of the bow’

dalr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -/-i; -ir, acc. -i/-a): valley < dalgautr (noun m.)

[7] dal‑Gauta: ‘dalm gamla’ 304ˣ

kennings

dal-Gauta
‘of the bow-Gautar ’
   = WARRIORS

the bow-Gautar → WARRIORS
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Gauta ‘Gautar’

gauti (noun m.): man, Geat < dalgautr (noun m.)

[7] dal‑Gauta: ‘dalm gamla’ 304ˣ

kennings

dal-Gauta
‘of the bow-Gautar ’
   = WARRIORS

the bow-Gautar → WARRIORS
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her ‘battle’

herr (noun m.; °-s/-jar, dat. -; -jar, gen. -ja/herra): army, host

notes

[8] hersæmða ‘battle-famed’: Hap. leg. Not in LP (see Notes to ll. 5-8 above).

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sæmða ‘famed’

[8] ‑sæmða: sæmði Flat

notes

[8] hersæmða ‘battle-famed’: Hap. leg. Not in LP (see Notes to ll. 5-8 above).

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

The Scots attacked those Norwegians who had been forced ashore in the storm. The Norwegians defended themselves behind a beached merchantman until Hákon could send men ashore to help them. Few fell, but many were wounded.

[5-8]: This helmingr is difficult to make sense of. The present edn mostly follows NN §1361. The ruler whose flattering opinion about his troops is misplaced is likely to be Alexander, king of the Scots. Alternatively it could refer to Hákon, since the Norw. troops were in trouble at this point. Skj B construes the half-st. as follows: herr drengja þengils, sás lof sæmði, dæmði dulgreypa drótt dal-Gauta drápi, translated as kongens mænds hær, han, hvem lovprisning hædrede, dömte den indbilske, grumme krigerskare til døden ‘the army of the king’s men, he, whom praise honoured, sentenced the conceited, cruel band of warriors to death’. In addition to the convoluted w. o., which is unprecedented in Hrafn, there is a violation of syntax because the finite verb in the main cl. (dæmði ‘sentenced’ (l. 8)) occurs further back than syntactic position 1 or 2. The F version of ll. 5-8 can be construed as follows: drótt drap ina dulmiklu drengja lofþengils, sá er dæmði dal-Gauta hersæmða ‘the retinue killed the highly conceited warriors of the praiseworthy ruler, he who deemed the bow-Gautar battle-famed’. Aside from the fact that this version has no support in the accompanying prose, l. 5 lacks internal rhyme.

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