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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Marm Lv 1VIII (Hálf 6)

Hubert Seelow (ed.) 2017, ‘Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka 6 (Marmennill, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 310.


lýsa ‘a glitter’

2. lýsa (verb): illuminate, show


[1] lýsa ‘a glitter’: Lýsa is here a verb ‘glitter, gleam’ without a specified subject.


danskr ‘a Danish’

danskr (adj.): Danish


hefna ‘to avenge’

hefna (verb): avenge


hefir ‘sails’

hafa (verb): have


ótal ‘countless’

ótal (noun n.): countless


Hjörleifi ‘Hjǫrleifr’

Hjǫrleifr (noun m.): Hjǫrleifr


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

Two fishermen called Handir and Hrindir catch a merman (marmendill) and bring him to King Hjǫrleifr, who entrusts him to the care of one of the women at his court. One night, when the lights had been put out, Hjǫrleifr’s wife Hildr prods her co-wife Æsa with a horn. The king slaps Hildr, but Æsa says it is the dog’s fault, so he strikes the dog. The merman laughs, and, when asked by the king why he is laughing, he replies that the king has acted foolishly, as the two he has slapped would save his life. The king asks more questions, but the merman gives no answer. Then the king says he will take him back to sea and asks the merman to tell him what he needs to know. The stanza is introduced by the words: Hann kvað, er hann fór til sjóvar … ‘He said, when he went to the sea …’.

The motif of the laughing sage is attested in a number of folklore sources (see Boberg 1966, 69 (D1318.2.1); Davíð Erlingsson 1980). Davíð Erlingsson (1980) finds both this and the motif of the otherworld spirit that pollutes waterways in Irish sources about the dealings of the hero Fergus mac Léite with the elf-people.


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