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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Magnfl 4II/6 — stag ‘the forestay’

Djarft neyttir þú, dróttinn
dolgstrangr, skipa langra,
af þvít ýtar hǫfðu
austr sjau tøgu flausta.
Suðr gnauðuðu súðir;
segl hýnd við stag rýndu;
vík skar vandlangt eiki;
Visundr hneigði þrǫm sveigðan.

Þú neyttir langra skipa djarft, dolgstrangr dróttinn, af þvít ýtar hǫfðu sjau tøgu flausta austr. Súðir gnauðuðu suðr; hýnd segl rýndu við stag; vandlangt eiki skar vík; Visundr hneigði sveigðan þrǫm.

You used long ships boldly, battle-strong lord, as men steered seventy vessels eastwards. Strakes roared south; high-hoisted sails conversed with the forestay; the tall-masted oak sliced the sound; Visundr (‘Bison’) plunged its curved rail.


[6] stag: ‘stǫg’ E, ‘sto᷎g’ J2ˣ


[6] stag (n.) ‘forestay’: The sg. is retained in the Text and Translation, though after the pl. segl rýndu ‘sails conversed’, a pl. would be natural, and this is presumably the motivation for the variant stǫg and for Finnur’s translation tovene ‘ropes, cables’ (Hkr and Skj B) and Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson’s ‘stag (stög)’ (ÍF 28). The stag was seemingly a cable from the mast-top to the prow. For a similar nautical image, see Valg Har 6 and see Foote 1978, 60-1, who instances the word to refute claims that Viking Age ships had no standing rigging.



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