Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 16I/8 — sunds ‘of the sea’

Ógrœðir sá auða
armgrjóts Trana fljóta
— hann rauð geir at gunni
glaðr — ok báða Naðra,
áðr hjaldrþorinn heldi
hugframr í bǫð ramri
snotr á snœrivitni
sunds Þórketill undan.

Ógrœðir armgrjóts sá Trana ok báða Naðra fljóta auða — glaðr rauð hann geir at gunni —, áðr hjaldrþorinn, snotr Þórketill, hugframr í ramri bǫð, heldi undan á snœrivitni sunds.

The non-increaser of arm-gravel [JEWELS > GENEROUS MAN] saw Trani (‘Crane’) and both Naðrar (‘Adders’) floating empty — glad, he reddened the spear in war —, before clash-bold, wise Þorkell, great-hearted in fierce battle, fled on the cable-wolf of the sea [SHIP].


[7] snœrivitni ‘the cable-wolf’: The variant readings otr siglu ‘otter of the mast’ (so 310) and snœriotr ‘cable-otter’ (so Holm18 and Flat, whose text of this stanza is from ÓTOdd rather than ÓT (ÍF 25)), also form ship-kennings, though they give aðalhending in an odd line. Vitru (f. acc. sg.) ‘wisdom’ and fjǫtri (m. dat. sg.) ‘fetter’ are likely to be scribal errors for vitni and [snœris]otri (with a long second <s>) respectively. — [8] sunds ‘of the sea’: It is not obvious where this gen. noun fits in the syntax. (a) In the Text above, sunds forms an overloaded ship-kenning with snœrivitni, ‘(on the) cable-wolf of the sea’. Parallels, albeit somewhat distant ones, are assembled at Meissner 42. (b) Following Ólafur Halldórsson (ÍF 25), sunds could be taken as an adverbial gen. of direction (cf. NS §141); a possible parallel is Gsind Hákdr 6/8 sunda, if this is adverbial ‘through sounds’ (so Poole 2004). (c) Sunds could mean ‘swimming’. Hkr seems to take this as a reference to Þorkell’s means of escape; cf. Hkr’s reading af in l. 7, suggesting Þorkell flees from, rather than on, the ship (ÍF 26; Hkr 1991; cf. ÍF 29), while Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 3) suggested snotr sunds ‘wise (i.e. skilled) at swimming’ (see Hkr 1893-1901, IV for Finnur Jónsson’s response).




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