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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Frag 2III

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2017, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Fragments 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 349.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonFragments
12

This fragment (Sigv Frag 2) is preserved only in LaufE. Nothing is known of its original poetic context, or its circumstances of composition, and while the attribution to Sigvatr is clear in all three mss it cannot be confirmed or denied. Although Sigvatr is renowned for his verbal facility and wit, the particular type of play with nýgerving found in this helmingr (see Notes below) is not characteristic of his work, and the metre is unique in his surviving oeuvre. It is runhent ‘end-rhyming’, here an end-rhymed version of fornyrðislag. The sequence of E- and B-lines each ending on a fully stressed syllable produces a clipped, battering effect also found in several other runhent compositions, for instance in much of Egill Skallagrímsson’s Hǫfuðlausn (Eg HflV) and throughout Einarr Skúlason’s Runhenda (ESk RunII). Here all four lines rhyme on the same syllable (-ǫrr), whereas rhyming in couplets is also common in runhent poetry. Runhent is more often used in lausavísur and ‘poems of a more mundane nature’ than in encomiastic poetry (Gade, SkP I, lix). The LaufE mss papp10ˣ (as main ms.), 2368ˣ and 743ˣ are used below.

Brýnd vôru dǫrr;
boga fylgði hǫrr;
sparn rastar knǫrr
rádýris vǫrr.

Dǫrr vôru brýnd; hǫrr fylgði boga; {knǫrr rastar} sparn {vǫrr rádýris}.

Spears were whetted; the bowstring went with the bow; {the ship of the league} [HORSE] pounded {the wake of the roe-deer} [LAND].

Mss: papp10ˣ(40rb), 2368ˣ(88), 743ˣ(69v) (LaufE)

Editions: Skj AI, 275, Skj BI, 254, Skald I, 131; SnE 1848-87, III, 348, LaufE 1979, 265-6, 341.

Context: The citation is prefaced by a statement (papp10ˣ version), Kiender eru yxn, dyr eða hestar skipa heitum, eða hvala ‘Oxen, deer and horses are referred to by kennings using terms for ships or whales’. It is followed by Hier er hestur kallaður knor jarðarinnar ‘Here a horse is called a ship of the earth’.

Notes: [2] hǫrr ‘the bowstring’: For hǫrr m., usually ‘flax, linen’, in the sense ‘bow-string’, cf. ÞjóðA Magnfl 10/2II. — [3] knǫrr rastar ‘the ship of the league [HORSE]’: This is a seemingly unique pattern of kenning (cf. Meissner 111), though it has skaldic logic on its side since it simply inverts the common metaphor of ‘horse of the sea’ for ‘ship’. Rǫst f. presumably has its common meaning ‘league, measurement of distance on land’ here (cf. LP: 1. rǫst), but it also means ‘sea-current’ (LP: 2. rǫst); and it occurs among ship-heiti in Þul Skipa 2/5. It therefore seems that the skald has given a further twist to the kenning, allowing possible maritime associations to linger in the determinant as well as the base-word. This might appear to be chance or even incompetence, except that the same happens with the land-kenning that follows. — [4] vǫrr rádýris ‘the wake of the roe-deer [LAND]’: Vǫrr m. is ‘oar-stroke, wake’, hence ‘sea’ (LP: 2. vǫrr). Here it forms a land-kenning belonging to a rare but recognised pattern (see Meissner 87) in which the base-word refers to sea and the determinant to a land-animal, inverting the more common conceit of the sea as the land of sea-creatures. As a further complication, the determinant , taken as normalised f., could be the word for ‘sailyard’ and hence rôdýri ‘sailyard-animal’ could be a kenning for ‘ship’. Thus the underlying image is comparable with knǫrr rastar ‘ship of the league [HORSE]’ (l. 3), and the two kennings form a harmonised metaphorical scheme, but both with a slight twist back in a maritime direction. For a similar kenning, see Eil Þdr 6/4 ver gaupu ‘sea of the lynx [MOUNTAINS]’.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. LaufE 1979 = Faulkes, Anthony, ed. 1979. Edda Magnúsar Ólafssonar (Laufás Edda). RSÁM 13. Vol. I of Two Versions of Snorra Edda from the 17th Century. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar, 1977-9.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. SkP I = Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Ed. Diana Whaley. 2012.
  8. Internal references
  9. Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Biography of) Einarr Skúlason’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 140.
  10. Not published: do not cite (EgillV)
  11. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Runhenda’ 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. 551-9. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1150> (accessed 22 September 2021)
  12. Not published: do not cite (Egill HflV (Eg))
  13. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Skipa heiti 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 863.
  14. Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 6’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 87.
  15. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2017, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Fragments 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 349.
  16. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Magnússflokkr 10’ 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. 75-6.
  17. (forthcoming), ‘ Unattributed, Laufás Edda’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=10928> (accessed 22 September 2021)
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