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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Haustl 17III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Haustlǫng 17’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 457.

Þjóðólfr ór HviniHaustlǫng

text and translation

Brátt fló bjarga gæti
— bǫnd ollu því — randa
ímunfǫlr und iljar
íss; vildu svá dísir.
Varðat hǫggs frá hǫrðum
hraundrengr þaðan lengi
trjónu trolls of rúna
tíðr fjǫllama at bíða.

{Ímunfǫlr íss randa} fló brátt und iljar {gæti bjarga}; bǫnd ollu því; dísir vildu svá. {Hraundrengr} varðat tíðr at bíða lengi þaðan fjǫllama hǫggs frá {hǫrðum of rúna {trolls trjónu}}.
‘The battle-pale ice of shield-rims [SHIELD] flew swiftly beneath the footsoles of the guardian of the rocks [GIANT = Hrungnir]; the gods caused that; the dísir <minor female deities> wanted [it] so. The rock-gentleman [GIANT = Hrungnir] was not desirous of waiting long after that for a much-battering blow from the hard friend of the troll of the muzzle [= Mjǫllnir > = Þórr].

notes and context

As for st. 14.

Unlike the prose narrative in Skm (see Context of st. 14), which provides a semi-rational explanation for Hrungnir’s standing on his shield, there is no reference to Þjálfi’s role in persuading Hrungnir to place the shield beneath his footsoles. Instead the shield seems to fly there of its own accord, and Þjóðólfr makes it clear by means of two independent intercalaries that the gods (bǫnd, l. 2) and goddesses (dísir, l. 4) caused this bizarre event to happen. — [5-8]: There has been considerable debate among commentators about the syntax and identity of the kennings in this helmingr. One emendation, adopted by all eds, has been made for grammatical reasons, hǫrðum ‘hard’ (l. 5), to provide a m. dat. sg. adj. with of rúna ‘friend’ (l. 7), rather than the mss’ hǫrðu. Some eds (e.g. Skj B; SnE 1998) also emend all mss’ tíðr (l. 8) to tíðs ‘swift’ and construe it with hǫggs ‘blow’ (gen. after bíða ‘wait for’, l. 8). Here tíðr has been retained and taken as a m. nom. sg. adj. used predicatively with hraundrengr ‘rock-gentleman’ (l. 6), as suggested by Marold (1983, 173). The statement that the ‘rock-gentleman’ was not desirous of waiting long after that for Þórr’s coup de grace is nicely ironic. Another word that is difficult to place syntactically is fjǫllama (l. 8) and it is also difficult to ascertain this hap. leg. word’s lexical meaning. It is understood here as a cpd adj., meaning ‘much-battering’, qualifying hǫggs ‘blow’. Another view (cf. LP: fjǫrlami) is that the first element is fjǫr ‘life’, not fjǫl- ‘much’, and that the adj. means ‘life-crushing’. Skj B takes it with the kenning for Mjǫllnir, trolls trjónu fjǫllama, and glosses the whole phrase as den knusende hammer ‘the crushing hammer’. Other scholars (e.g. Wisén 1886-9, I, 11) have considered it a noun, meaning ‘life-laming’. The second element of the cpd, ‑lama, is strongly reminiscent of other descriptions of the crushing power of the mighty blows from Mjǫllnir directed at giants, in which the verb lemja ‘hit, batter, beat up’ is frequently used; cf. Vetrl Lv 1/2.



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: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski, 2. Haustlǫng 17: AI, 19-20, BI, 17-18, Skald I, 11, NN §§142, 227, 1884A Anm.; SnE 1848-87, I, 280-3, III, 22, SnE 1931, 104, SnE 1998, I, 23.


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