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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorm Lv 20I/8 — hér ‘here’

Þér munk eðr, unz ǫðrum,
allvaldr, náir skǫldum,
— nær vættir þú þeirra? —
þingdjarfr, fyr kné hvarfa.
Braut komumk vér, þótt veitim
valtafn frekum hrafni,
— víksk eigi þat, vága
viggruðr — eða hér liggjum.

Munk eðr hvarfa fyr kné þér, þingdjarfr allvaldr, unz náir ǫðrum skǫldum; nær vættir þú þeirra? Vér komumk braut, þótt veitim valtafn frekum hrafni, eða liggjum hér; þat víksk eigi, vága viggruðr.

I shall still pace about before your knee, assembly-bold mighty ruler, until you get other skalds; when do you expect them? We shall come away even if we provide corpse-prey for the greedy raven, or we shall lie here; that will not fail, bush of the steed of the waves [(lit. ‘steed-bush of the waves’) SHIP > SEAFARER = Óláfr].


[8] hér: so Bæb, 68, Holm4, 325V, Tóm, , DG8, Hb, 142ˣ(103), 566aˣ, papp4ˣ, þar Holm2, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 75e 4, Bb, Flat, ‘har’ 325VII


[8] eða liggjum hér ‘or we shall lie here’: I.e. ‘lie dead’. (a) This edn, like most others, assumes that the alternative is vér komumk braut ‘we shall come away’ in l. 5, with þat víksk eigi ‘that will not fail’ an intercalary clause, an arrangement that is encouraged by the Context provided in Fbr (see above). The helmingr thus states ‘we shall either live or die’: not a very acute observation, in Finnur Jónsson’s view (1932-3), yet a plausible variant on the theme of ‘victory or death’, in which the þótt-clause may imply that if the skald’s side get away alive it will not be before they have slain some of the enemy. (b) Under the other main arrangement, the alternative to eða hér liggjum is þat víksk eigi. The point is then that either they will show their mettle on the battlefield by feeding the ravens on their enemies’ corpses or they will die trying. The alternative to dying is thus not simply living, but acting boldly (and, as a result, living).



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