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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 1I/3 — á ‘to’

Hugstóran biðk heyra
— heyr, jarl, Kvasis dreyra —
foldar vǫrð á fyrða
fjarðleggjar brim dreggjar.

Biðk hugstóran vǫrð foldar heyra á brim dreggjar fyrða fjarðleggjar; heyr, jarl, dreyra Kvasis.

I bid the high-minded guardian of the land [RULER = Hákon jarl] listen to the surf of the dregs of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS > POEM]; hear, jarl, the blood of Kvasir <mythical being> [POEM].


[3] á: ok U


[1, 3, 4] heyra á brim ‘listen to the surf’: In other contexts brim dreggjar ‘surf of yeast/dregs’ could have formed an ale-kenning which in turn formed the base-word of a poem-kenning (LP: brim, though cf. Krömmelbein 1983, 172). Here, however, it appears that brim ‘surf’ is not part of the poem-kenning proper, whose base-word is dregg ‘dregs’. Rather, ‘listen to the surf’ is part of a metaphoric image spanning the introductory stanzas of Vell which likens the poem’s effect on the listener to that of an onrushing wave (see Marold 1994a, 473; cf. Frank 1981, 158; Krömmelbein 1983, 178). In the introductory sts 1-5 the poet combines metaphors and kennings in a very unconventional way, imagining the recitation of the poem as a wave growing and roaring before the ruler, or issuing from inside the poet through his mouth and booming against the cliffs of his teeth, or passing over the ruler’s men. Into this metaphorical framework the poet inserts the kennings for ‘poem’ (see Note to [All] above), sometimes adjusting their base-words to this imagery.



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