Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Hardr 11II/4 — fyr ‘in’

Hafðit brjóst, né bifðisk
bǫðsnart konungs hjarta
í hjalmþrimu, hilmir
hlítstyggr fyr sér lítit,
þars til þengils hersa
þat sá herr, at skatna
blóðugr hjǫrr ins barra
beit dǫglinga hneitis.

Hlítstyggr hilmir hafðit lítit brjóst fyr sér, né bifðisk bǫðsnart hjarta konungs í hjalmþrimu, þars herr sá þat til þengils hersa, at blóðugr hjǫrr ins barra hneitis dǫglinga beit skatna.

The prince, shunning mediocrity, had no small courage in himself, and the battle-swift heart of the king did not tremble in the helmet-din [BATTLE], where the army saw, watching the lord of hersar [RULER], that the bloody sword of the zealous subduer of princes [RULER] bit men.


[4] fyr sér: ok þó Flat


[1, 4] hafðit lítit brjóst fyr sér ‘had no small courage in himself’: Brjóst can mean ‘breast, chest’, hence figuratively ‘courage’ or ‘defence, defender(s)’, and fyr sér can mean ‘in front of him(self)’, or ‘in, of him(self)’ as in the phrase mikill/lítill fyrir sér ‘great/insignificant in himself’. These alternative senses combine with the alternative readings hafði and hafðit to yield several possible interpretations of this st., the most satisfactory of which are: (a) The reading adopted here (and so Jón Þorkelsson 1884, 41, and Skj B), with the suffix -t negating lítit. (b) Reading hafði: ‘He had little defence in front of him’ (so ÍF 28), implying that Haraldr was in the forefront of the fighting.



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