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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (ÓT) 3I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta 3’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1085.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísur from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta
23

Leika barðs á borði
byrhreins fyr þér einum
— gramr mun á foldu fremri
fár — sex tigir ára.
Mér leikr einn ok annarr
ǫldu sveipr í greipum
(því verðk) borðs á barða
(bæginn fyr þér vægja).

Sex tigir ára leika á borði {byrhreins barðs} fyr þér einum; fár gramr á foldu mun fremri. {Einn ok annarr sveipr ǫldu} leikr í greipum mér á {barða borðs}; því verðk, bæginn, fyr þér vægja.

Sixty oars swing on the gunwale {of the breeze-reindeer of the stem} [SHIP], for you alone; few rulers on earth can be more outstanding. {One and another sweeper of the wave} [OAR] plays in my grip on {the whale of the gunwale} [SHIP]; therefore I must, though combative, yield to you.

Mss: 61(53vb), 53(50vb), 54(43vb), Bb(79va), 62(43rb), Flat(52va) (ÓT)

Readings: [3] mun: er 53, 54, Bb    [4] sex tigir: so Flat, ‘.lx.’ 61, 62, sex tigum 53, sex tigi 54, Bb    [5] einn: ein 53, 54, Bb;    annarr: ǫnnur 53, 54, Bb    [6] ǫldu: ǫldur 53    [8] bæginn: ‘bęgni’ 62;    þér: so 53, 54, Bb, om. 61, 62, Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 180, Skj BI, 170, Skald I, 91, NN §§514, 2108; Fms 2, 181, Fms 12, 51, SHI 2, 168, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 134 (ch. 212), Flat 1860-8, I, 396.

Notes: [1-2] á borði byrhreins barðs ‘on the gunwale of the breeze-reindeer of the stem [SHIP]’: Borð, lit. ‘board’, is here a collective noun, referring to the planking of the ship’s hull, hence ‘ship’s side, hull, gunwale’ (Jesch 2001a, 140; ONP: borð 2). The kenning byrhreins barðs is pleonastic, as byrhreinn ‘breeze-reindeer’ alone signifies ‘ship’ without the additional determinant barðs ‘of the stem’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 2; cf. Fms 12), takes barðs as an adj., equivalent to barðaðs ‘stem-bearing’. An alternative arrangement is á barðs borði byrhreins. This may be construed in several ways. (a) Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI) has ‘on the edge (borð) of the stem (barð) of the breeze-reindeer’, and this may lie behind Finnur Jónsson’s skibets side ‘on the ship’s side’ in Skj B, but borð in a nautical context does not usually mean ‘edge’ (cf. LP: borð 3, 4). The image of oars passing the stem, or prow, of the ship is also odd. (b) Finnur Jónsson in LP takes both borð barðs ‘board of the stem’ and byrhreinn ‘breeze-reindeer’ as ship-kennings (LP: borð 3; byrhreinn). — [3] mun á: This syllabic structure in a metrical dip is normally found in later skaldic poetry. — [7] barða borðs ‘the whale of the gunwale [SHIP]’: (a) While not entirely satisfactory, this kenning, first proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI; see also NN §2108), is the best resolution of the difficulties these words present. There is no other extant ship-kenning based on a word for ‘whale’. Barði m. ‘whale’ is moreover rather rare. It occurs once in the skaldic corpus, in a snake-kenning (barði lyngs ‘whale of the heather’, ESkál Vell 30/5-6), but not in ON prose, though it does exist in ModIcel.; cf. also ON barðhvalr m. ‘baleen whale’, possibly ‘sperm whale’ (ONP). The repetition of words from the first helmingr must be deliberate, and this may strengthen the case for a recherché kenning. Line 7’s sveipr ǫldu ‘sweeper of the wave [OAR]’ also lacks certain parallels, though cf. Ótt Hfl 4/6 sundvarpaði, apparently ‘sea-thrower [OAR]’. (b) Finnur Jónsson takes barði borðs as a circumlocution for ‘ship’, made up of barði ‘ship’ plus borðs ‘of planking’ (LP: 2. barði, see also borð 3). It cannot be a kenning on this basis, however, as barði means ‘ship’ by itself (Meissner 222), and ‘ship of planking’ is not a very convincing circumlocution. (c) Kock (Skald; NN §514) takes borðs á barði with the rest of ll. 7-8, which is a possible alternative.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  7. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  9. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  10. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  11. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  12. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  13. Internal references
  14. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 30’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 321.
  15. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 4’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 746.
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