Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Frag 2II/1 — Jarl ‘The jarl’

Jarl lætr odda skúrar
optherðir gǫr verða
hrings, áðr hann of þryngvi,
hǫrð él, und sik jǫrðu.

Jarl, optherðir skúrar odda, lætr hǫrð él hrings verða gǫr, áðr hann of þryngvi jǫrðu und sik.

The jarl, frequent hardener of the shower of barbs [BATTLE > WARRIOR], causes harsh storms of the sword [BATTLES] to be made before he forces land under himself.


[1] Jarl: so C, ‘J’ R, A, ‘I’


[1] jarl ‘the jarl’: This is one of two main solutions to the textual problem presented by the opening word of the st. (a) In R, and A the initial graph can designate both capital j and í, while C reads Jarl. There is no abbreviation sign in R, and C to suggest that an abbreviation of jarl is meant, but this is possible in view of C’s reading Jarl, and it would fit the metrical requirement for a skothending on skúrar ‘shower’. The helmingr appears to be complete in syntax and meaning without this first word, so jarl is here read as a subject in apposition to optherðir skúrar odda ‘frequent hardener of barbs’ shower’ (ll. 2-3). (b) Emendation to ǫrr ‘bold’ or ‘generous’ was suggested by G. Pálsson (cited SnE 1848-87, I, 472 n. 9, Skj A and NN) and by Konráð Gíslason (1879a, 185), and is adopted in Skj B. This provides a neat solution by postulating a grammatically inessential element (an adj.) and avoiding the problem of the identity of the conquering jarl, but as Kock notes a skothending of short vowel + double consonant on long vowel + single consonant would not match Þjóðólfr’s normal usage (NN §3085). Kock adds that ár, presumably the adv. ‘formerly, once’, would be more regular, and prints this in Skald, without putting up an argument for it, and it would be hard to defend unless lætr ‘causes’ (l. 1) in the mss is emended to lét (see following Note). Sveinbjörn Egilsson read ýr ‘(yew-)bow’ (SnE 1848-87, I, 472), but translated strenuus ‘vigorous’. (c) The prep. í ‘in’ can be ruled out since there is no noun for it to govern, nor would an adverbial use of the word fit the helmingr.



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