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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 17I/5 —  ‘very’

Ítrfermðum réð Ormi
orðsæll jǫfurr norðan
— snǫrp varð at þat sverða
snót — Eireki á móti.
En jǫfnum hefnir
hlýrs þeim Gota stýrði
— áðr óx of gram góðan
gunnr — Hôkonar sunnan.

Orðsæll jǫfurr réð ítrfermðum Ormi norðan á móti Eireki; snót sverða varð snǫrp at þat. En hefnir Hôkonar stýrði þeim jǫfnum Gota hlýrs sunnan; gunnr óx áðr of góðan gram.

The acclaimed prince [Óláfr] guided splendidly-laden Ormr (‘Serpent’) from the north against Eiríkr; the lady of swords [= Hildr (hildr ‘battle’)] became keen at that. But Hákon’s avenger [= Eiríkr] steered that very straight Goti <legendary horse> of the bow [SHIP] from the south; battle had swelled earlier around the good ruler.


[5] hý‑: hver 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, hverr Bb


[5] hýjǫfnum ‘very straight’: This otherwise unattested epithet has not been satisfactorily explained, nor is it certain whether it describes the legendary horse Goti or the ship to which the whole kenning refers; the translation offered above is tentative. The problem is the hý- component, which must be different from the hý- that is attested in eddic poetry and is connected with hjú, hjón n. ‘household, married people’ (AEW: hýnótt). (a) SHI 3 suggests ‘perfectly made’, i.e. to hair’s-breadth accuracy, cf. ModIcel. hárjafn ‘not differing by a hair’; laukjafn ‘straight as a leek’ Sigv Berv 6/8II. The fine craftsmanship of Ormr inn langi was legendary (ÍF 26, 335-6), so an explanation along these lines seems most credible. AEW: 3 suggests hý- is an intensifying prefix like hund-: the cpd would thus mean ‘very even/straight’. (b) ÍO: hýjafn proposes n. ‘fine, sparse hair; down on a plant or bird’. No gloss is offered for the cpd, but perhaps the thought is the same as in (a). (c) Skj B emends to húfjǫfnum (nom. sg. húfjafn) ‘plank-equal, with even planking’ (first proposed LP (1860): hýjafn). (d) Kock (NN §1958) argues that the reading hverjafn in the minor mss is equivalent to hvarjafn ‘equal, even, everywhere’, cf. hvardyggr ‘all-doughty’, Sigv Berv 6/6II. His suggestion that ms. ‘hy’ arose from misreading of the sequence hv + er-abbreviation is plausible, but hý- is clearly the lectio difficilior.




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