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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Sex 20II/6 — brutu ‘broke’

Létu lystir sleitu
landkarlar gram varla
— gerði ǫld á jǫrðu
ódœmi — lǫg sœma.
En, því ráði þjóðar,
þeim brutu troll, es ollu,
hæls í hleypikjóla
hrís andskotum vísa.

Landkarlar lystir sleitu létu varla gram sœma lǫg; ǫld gerði ódœmi á jǫrðu. En troll brutu hrís í hleypikjóla hæls þeim andskotum vísa, es ollu því ráði þjóðar.

The landsmen, eager for strife, hardly allowed the king to honour the law; the people committed outrage in the land. But trolls broke brushwood in the speeding ships of the heel [SHOES] of those adversaries of the prince who directed that action of the people.

readings

[6] brutu: ‘[...]to’ Mork

notes

[6, 7, 8] troll brutu hrís í hleypikjóla hæls ‘trolls broke brushwood in the speeding ships of the heel [SHOES]’: Troll here seems to be a rather general, even tongue-in-cheek, reference to supernatural beings, such as the ones invoked in various oaths and curses, usually consigning enemies to the trolls, e.g. HólmgB Lv 11/5V, KormǪ Lv 44/8V, VígVest Lv l. 2V. The kenning hleypikjóla hæls designates a shoe using a term for ‘ship’ as base-word qualified by a determinant referring to the foot. This is unusual but not unparalleled: see Meissner 434. The idea seems to be that trolls break off twigs of brushwood and stuff it in the shoes of Haraldr’s enemies to prevent their progress, hence cause trouble generally (so Andersson and Gade 2000, 477). There are no close parallels to this idiom (brjóta hrís, attested in Fritzner: hrís 2, is literal, not figurative), though LP: brjóta 5 compares another figurative usage from Þjóðolfr, brjóta sér byrðar, lit. ‘break off a burden for oneself’, hence ‘make difficulties for oneself’, st. 25/5, 8.

grammar

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