Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr Óldr 4I/2 — hræ ‘corpse’

Hilmir lét at Holmi
hræskóð roðin blóði
— hvat of dylði þess hǫlðar? —
hǫrð ok austr í Gǫrðum.
Rógs brá rekka lægir
ríkr Valkera líki;
herstefnir lét hrǫfnum
hold Flæmingja goldit.

Hilmir lét hǫrð hræskóð roðin blóði at Holmi ok austr í Gǫrðum; hvat of dylði þess hǫlðar? Ríkr lægir rógs rekka brá líki Valkera; herstefnir lét hold Flæmingja goldit hrǫfnum.

The prince caused hard corpse-harmers [SWORDS] to be reddened in blood at Hólmr and east in Russia; why should men conceal that? The powerful subduer of the strife of men [JUST RULER] spoiled the bodies of the Valkerar; the army-commander [RULER] caused the flesh of the Flemings to be doled out to ravens.


[2] hræ‑: her‑ 53, 54, Bb, Flat, hjalm‑ FskBˣ, 310, halm‑ FskAˣ


[2] hræskóð ‘corpse-harmers [SWORDS]’: Again, the traditions branch, with hjalm- ‘helmet’ in Fsk and 310 and hræ- ‘corpse’ (apparently corrupted to her- ‘army’ in some copies) in Hkr and ÓT. Hjalmskóð ‘helmet-harm(er)’ at first sight appears the better reading, and is adopted in Skj and Skald, but hræskóð is retained here as the lectio difficilior and the reading of the chosen main ms. It seems a rather curious expression for ‘sword’, which in reality turns warriors into corpses rather than harming corpses, but the image is not unlike lét hræ tíðhǫggvit ‘had corpses cut down often’ in st. 3/1, 4. Moreover, sword- or spear-kennings in hræ- ‘corpse’ exist (e.g. Tindr Hákdr 6/6 hræbirtingr ‘corpse-trout [SWORD]’), and it may be that hræskóð is modelled on those in a rather formulaic way. There are also comparable kennings based on skóð (Meissner 155) and cf. Hfr ErfÓl 12/5, 8 láta skóð roðin blóði ‘caused harmers to become reddened with blood’.




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