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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Sex 28II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 28’ 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. 143-4.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonSexstefja
272829

hræ ‘of carrion’

hræ (noun n.; °; -): corpse, carrion < hræteinn (noun m.)

[1] hræteina: ‘hrę t᷎na’ A

kennings

hveiti hræteina
‘wheat of carrion-twigs ’
   = SPEARS

wheat of carrion-twigs → SPEARS

notes

[1] hveiti hræteina ‘the wheat of carrion-twigs [SPEARS]’: The base-word teinn ‘twig’ quite frequently forms kennings for weapons, e.g. with determinants referring, as here, to wounds, e.g. teinn unda Gísl Lv 1, and see LP: teinn. Terms for crops, in turn, frequently form kennings for ‘corpse’, qualified by a beast of battle word in the gen. case (see Note to l. 4 below). This cannot be the meaning here, for various reasons, and hveiti in the sense of showering grain may be an unparalleled variant on the pattern ‘shower, rain of the corpse or wounds’ referring to missiles or specifically spears (Skj B; Meissner 145; LP: hræteinn). If so, Haraldr is pictured either as an armour-clad fighting machine dispatching missiles, or as one shaking enemy missiles out of his armour. Björn Magnússon Ólsen and Finnur Jónsson in their eds of TGT (1884 and 1927 respectively) printed hrætrana ‘of the carrion-crane(s) [RAVEN(S)]’, which together with hveiti could produce a kenning for ‘corpse’, but this would not make sense in the st., and the abbreviation mark above <t> is not the usual abbreviation for <ar> but is better taken as <ei>.

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teina ‘twigs’

teinn (noun m.; °dat. teini; teinar): twig, rod < hræteinn (noun m.)

[1] hræteina: ‘hrę t᷎na’ A

kennings

hveiti hræteina
‘wheat of carrion-twigs ’
   = SPEARS

wheat of carrion-twigs → SPEARS

notes

[1] hveiti hræteina ‘the wheat of carrion-twigs [SPEARS]’: The base-word teinn ‘twig’ quite frequently forms kennings for weapons, e.g. with determinants referring, as here, to wounds, e.g. teinn unda Gísl Lv 1, and see LP: teinn. Terms for crops, in turn, frequently form kennings for ‘corpse’, qualified by a beast of battle word in the gen. case (see Note to l. 4 below). This cannot be the meaning here, for various reasons, and hveiti in the sense of showering grain may be an unparalleled variant on the pattern ‘shower, rain of the corpse or wounds’ referring to missiles or specifically spears (Skj B; Meissner 145; LP: hræteinn). If so, Haraldr is pictured either as an armour-clad fighting machine dispatching missiles, or as one shaking enemy missiles out of his armour. Björn Magnússon Ólsen and Finnur Jónsson in their eds of TGT (1884 and 1927 respectively) printed hrætrana ‘of the carrion-crane(s) [RAVEN(S)]’, which together with hveiti could produce a kenning for ‘corpse’, but this would not make sense in the st., and the abbreviation mark above <t> is not the usual abbreviation for <ar> but is better taken as <ei>.

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hveiti ‘wheat’

hveiti (noun n.; °-s): [wheat]

kennings

hveiti hræteina
‘wheat of carrion-twigs ’
   = SPEARS

wheat of carrion-twigs → SPEARS

notes

[1] hveiti hræteina ‘the wheat of carrion-twigs [SPEARS]’: The base-word teinn ‘twig’ quite frequently forms kennings for weapons, e.g. with determinants referring, as here, to wounds, e.g. teinn unda Gísl Lv 1, and see LP: teinn. Terms for crops, in turn, frequently form kennings for ‘corpse’, qualified by a beast of battle word in the gen. case (see Note to l. 4 below). This cannot be the meaning here, for various reasons, and hveiti in the sense of showering grain may be an unparalleled variant on the pattern ‘shower, rain of the corpse or wounds’ referring to missiles or specifically spears (Skj B; Meissner 145; LP: hræteinn). If so, Haraldr is pictured either as an armour-clad fighting machine dispatching missiles, or as one shaking enemy missiles out of his armour. Björn Magnússon Ólsen and Finnur Jónsson in their eds of TGT (1884 and 1927 respectively) printed hrætrana ‘of the carrion-crane(s) [RAVEN(S)]’, which together with hveiti could produce a kenning for ‘corpse’, but this would not make sense in the st., and the abbreviation mark above <t> is not the usual abbreviation for <ar> but is better taken as <ei>.

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hrynja ‘to pour’

hrynja (verb): fall, flow

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gramr ‘The king’

1. gramr (noun m.): ruler

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at ‘’

3. at (prep.): at, to

notes

[3] at vexti belli ‘to display increase’: Lit. ‘that (corpses) should display increase’. Bella ‘deal in, display’ takes the dat., here vexti (m. nom sg. vǫxtr) ‘increase, growth’. LP: 2. bella 1 translates ‘increase in strength’ (tiltage i kraft). Kock’s NN §2218 is mainly devoted to the semantics of the verb.

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vexti ‘increase’

vaxa (verb): grow, increase

notes

[3] at vexti belli ‘to display increase’: Lit. ‘that (corpses) should display increase’. Bella ‘deal in, display’ takes the dat., here vexti (m. nom sg. vǫxtr) ‘increase, growth’. LP: 2. bella 1 translates ‘increase in strength’ (tiltage i kraft). Kock’s NN §2218 is mainly devoted to the semantics of the verb.

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belli ‘to display’

1. bella (verb; °præt. sg. ball): deal with

notes

[3] at vexti belli ‘to display increase’: Lit. ‘that (corpses) should display increase’. Bella ‘deal in, display’ takes the dat., here vexti (m. nom sg. vǫxtr) ‘increase, growth’. LP: 2. bella 1 translates ‘increase in strength’ (tiltage i kraft). Kock’s NN §2218 is mainly devoted to the semantics of the verb.

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val ‘of the falcon’

2. valr (noun m.; °-s): falcon < valbygg (noun n.): [Welsh barley]

kennings

Yggjar valbygg
‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’
   = CORPSES

the falcon of Yggr → RAVEN
the barley of the RAVEN → CORPSES

notes

[4] Yggjar valbygg ‘the barley of the falcon of Yggr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’) RAVEN > CORPSES]’: (a) This interpretation assumes an inverted kenning which fits the common pattern of corpse-kenning with a ‘beast of battle’ term as determinant (cf. the example in l. 4 of this st. and two further in st. 29; also Meissner 203-4). (b) Alternatively, one could read valbygg Yggjar ‘the slaughter-barley of Yggr <= Óðinn> [CORPSES]’ (so Skj B, tentatively, and Kock, NN §2218, who takes the kenning as a reference to blood). However, even though the barley of Óðinn, the battle-god and lord of the slain, might be taken as ‘corpse’, there are few or no parallels (Meissner 202 proposes one), and val- is strictly redundant (cf. hræ- ‘corpse’ in st. 30/4), though it would reinforce the idea of the slain, and could pun on the word valr adj. ‘Frankish, foreign’ (cf. Meissner 202) and possibly on valr ‘falcon’, which is common in raven-kennings (cf. interpretation (a)). In either interpretation, the n. nom. sg. bygg ‘barley’ must be assumed to be used collectively, hence the kenning referent is given as pl. ‘corpses’; and the ‘grain’ terms ǫrð ‘corn’ and barri ‘barley’ are used similarly in st. 29/1, 4.

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val ‘of the falcon’

2. valr (noun m.; °-s): falcon < valbygg (noun n.): [Welsh barley]

kennings

Yggjar valbygg
‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’
   = CORPSES

the falcon of Yggr → RAVEN
the barley of the RAVEN → CORPSES

notes

[4] Yggjar valbygg ‘the barley of the falcon of Yggr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’) RAVEN > CORPSES]’: (a) This interpretation assumes an inverted kenning which fits the common pattern of corpse-kenning with a ‘beast of battle’ term as determinant (cf. the example in l. 4 of this st. and two further in st. 29; also Meissner 203-4). (b) Alternatively, one could read valbygg Yggjar ‘the slaughter-barley of Yggr <= Óðinn> [CORPSES]’ (so Skj B, tentatively, and Kock, NN §2218, who takes the kenning as a reference to blood). However, even though the barley of Óðinn, the battle-god and lord of the slain, might be taken as ‘corpse’, there are few or no parallels (Meissner 202 proposes one), and val- is strictly redundant (cf. hræ- ‘corpse’ in st. 30/4), though it would reinforce the idea of the slain, and could pun on the word valr adj. ‘Frankish, foreign’ (cf. Meissner 202) and possibly on valr ‘falcon’, which is common in raven-kennings (cf. interpretation (a)). In either interpretation, the n. nom. sg. bygg ‘barley’ must be assumed to be used collectively, hence the kenning referent is given as pl. ‘corpses’; and the ‘grain’ terms ǫrð ‘corn’ and barri ‘barley’ are used similarly in st. 29/1, 4.

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bygg ‘the barley’

bygg (noun n.; °-s): barley < valbygg (noun n.): [Welsh barley]

kennings

Yggjar valbygg
‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’
   = CORPSES

the falcon of Yggr → RAVEN
the barley of the RAVEN → CORPSES

notes

[4] Yggjar valbygg ‘the barley of the falcon of Yggr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’) RAVEN > CORPSES]’: (a) This interpretation assumes an inverted kenning which fits the common pattern of corpse-kenning with a ‘beast of battle’ term as determinant (cf. the example in l. 4 of this st. and two further in st. 29; also Meissner 203-4). (b) Alternatively, one could read valbygg Yggjar ‘the slaughter-barley of Yggr <= Óðinn> [CORPSES]’ (so Skj B, tentatively, and Kock, NN §2218, who takes the kenning as a reference to blood). However, even though the barley of Óðinn, the battle-god and lord of the slain, might be taken as ‘corpse’, there are few or no parallels (Meissner 202 proposes one), and val- is strictly redundant (cf. hræ- ‘corpse’ in st. 30/4), though it would reinforce the idea of the slain, and could pun on the word valr adj. ‘Frankish, foreign’ (cf. Meissner 202) and possibly on valr ‘falcon’, which is common in raven-kennings (cf. interpretation (a)). In either interpretation, the n. nom. sg. bygg ‘barley’ must be assumed to be used collectively, hence the kenning referent is given as pl. ‘corpses’; and the ‘grain’ terms ǫrð ‘corn’ and barri ‘barley’ are used similarly in st. 29/1, 4.

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Haraldr ‘Haraldr’

Haraldr (noun m.): Haraldr

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Yggjar ‘of Yggr’

1. Yggr (noun m.): Yggr

kennings

Yggjar valbygg
‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’
   = CORPSES

the falcon of Yggr → RAVEN
the barley of the RAVEN → CORPSES

notes

[4] Yggjar valbygg ‘the barley of the falcon of Yggr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’) RAVEN > CORPSES]’: (a) This interpretation assumes an inverted kenning which fits the common pattern of corpse-kenning with a ‘beast of battle’ term as determinant (cf. the example in l. 4 of this st. and two further in st. 29; also Meissner 203-4). (b) Alternatively, one could read valbygg Yggjar ‘the slaughter-barley of Yggr <= Óðinn> [CORPSES]’ (so Skj B, tentatively, and Kock, NN §2218, who takes the kenning as a reference to blood). However, even though the barley of Óðinn, the battle-god and lord of the slain, might be taken as ‘corpse’, there are few or no parallels (Meissner 202 proposes one), and val- is strictly redundant (cf. hræ- ‘corpse’ in st. 30/4), though it would reinforce the idea of the slain, and could pun on the word valr adj. ‘Frankish, foreign’ (cf. Meissner 202) and possibly on valr ‘falcon’, which is common in raven-kennings (cf. interpretation (a)). In either interpretation, the n. nom. sg. bygg ‘barley’ must be assumed to be used collectively, hence the kenning referent is given as pl. ‘corpses’; and the ‘grain’ terms ǫrð ‘corn’ and barri ‘barley’ are used similarly in st. 29/1, 4.

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Yggjar ‘of Yggr’

1. Yggr (noun m.): Yggr

kennings

Yggjar valbygg
‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’
   = CORPSES

the falcon of Yggr → RAVEN
the barley of the RAVEN → CORPSES

notes

[4] Yggjar valbygg ‘the barley of the falcon of Yggr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’) RAVEN > CORPSES]’: (a) This interpretation assumes an inverted kenning which fits the common pattern of corpse-kenning with a ‘beast of battle’ term as determinant (cf. the example in l. 4 of this st. and two further in st. 29; also Meissner 203-4). (b) Alternatively, one could read valbygg Yggjar ‘the slaughter-barley of Yggr <= Óðinn> [CORPSES]’ (so Skj B, tentatively, and Kock, NN §2218, who takes the kenning as a reference to blood). However, even though the barley of Óðinn, the battle-god and lord of the slain, might be taken as ‘corpse’, there are few or no parallels (Meissner 202 proposes one), and val- is strictly redundant (cf. hræ- ‘corpse’ in st. 30/4), though it would reinforce the idea of the slain, and could pun on the word valr adj. ‘Frankish, foreign’ (cf. Meissner 202) and possibly on valr ‘falcon’, which is common in raven-kennings (cf. interpretation (a)). In either interpretation, the n. nom. sg. bygg ‘barley’ must be assumed to be used collectively, hence the kenning referent is given as pl. ‘corpses’; and the ‘grain’ terms ǫrð ‘corn’ and barri ‘barley’ are used similarly in st. 29/1, 4.

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The st. illustrates the fifth type of metonymy, in which an object stands for its material, the example here being of hveiti ‘wheat’ representing korn ‘grain, corn’. 

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