Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Run 2II/1 — Eykr ‘increases’

Eykr Ôleifs feðr
Járnsǫxu veðr
harðræði hvert,
svát hróðrs es vert.

Veðr Járnsǫxu eykr hvert harðræði feðr Ôleifs, svát hróðrs es vert.

His gale of Járnsaxa <giantess> [MIND] increases every tough exploit for Óláfr’s father [= Haraldr], so that it is worthy of praise poetry.


[1] Eykr: so U, Vex all others


[1-3] veðr Járnsǫxu eykr hvert harðræði ‘his gale of Járnsaxa <giantess> [MIND] increases every tough exploit’: Járnsaxa is recorded as the name of a giantess, and specifically as the mother of Þórr’s son Magni (SnE 1998, I, 22, 30), and ‘giantess’s wind’ for ‘mind, thought’ is a well-known kenning pattern (SnE 1998, I, 108; Meissner 138-9; Note to Stúfr Stúfdr 1/3). Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s proposal in SnE 1848-87, I, 462-3 of reading járnsaxa veðr as ‘storm of iron spears [BATTLE]’ (ferreorum spiculorum tempestas), which could stand as a subject in apposition to harðræði hvert ‘every tough exploit’, can be discarded. The syntax of the cl., however, is uncertain. (a) The reading above gives priority to the U reading eykr ‘increases’, since the near-synonymous vex, being normally intransitive, does not fit the syntax of the st. It may have arisen through scribes taking ll. 1-2 in isolation from l. 3. The noun harðræði most often refers to tough-mindedness or resolution, either as an abstract quality of a warrior or ruler, or as expressed in deeds (Fritzner, LP and references there). The latter sense is assumed here, as by most eds, yielding a statement that Haraldr’s mind or spirit enhances his actions. (The mss have harðræðit, with suffixed article -(i)t but this has been omitted in the process of normalisation.) (b) The reverse is also grammatically possible, since both veðr ‘gale’ and hvert harðræði ‘every tough exploit’ are n. sg. and hence potentially nom. or acc. (c) Faulkes adopts the R, W, reading vex, suggesting that it might, unusually, be transitive (SnE 1998, I, 82, 205-6 and II, 422 = Glossary: vaxa), and assumes that harðræðit (he prints the suffixed form) means ‘difficult undertaking, trial of one’s determination’ (SnE 1998, II, 302 = Glossary: harðræði). His overall interpretation is then: ‘Every difficulty increases Iarnsaxa’s wind [courage] in Olaf’s father, so that praise is due’ (Faulkes 1987, 131). Alternatively, in order to preserve the intransitivity of vex, Faulkes suggests that harðræðit hvert may be adverbial, ‘at every trial’. (d) For Kock’s interpretation, see note on svát below.



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