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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 19I/8 — klifs ‘cliff’

Sagðr vas mér — né meira
muni maðr stríð of bíða —
lýðum firrðr ok láði
landvǫrðr fyr sæ handan.
Væri oss, þótt ærir
elds þeim svikum belldi,
heilalíkn, ef, hauka
klifs, jǫfurr lifði.

Landvǫrðr vas sagðr mér firrðr lýðum ok láði fyr handan sæ; né muni maðr of bíða meira stríð. Oss væri heilalíkn, ef jǫfurr lifði, þótt ærir elds hôklifs hauka belldi þeim svikum.

The land’s guardian [RULER = Óláfr] was said to me to be deprived of people and realm across the sea; a man will not suffer greater grief. It would be healing mercy for us if the lord lived, although envoys of the fire of the high cliff of hawks [ARM > GOLD > GENEROUS MEN] committed that treachery.


[8] klifs jǫfurr (‘ha cklifs iofurr’): hauk klifs jǫfurr 310, hafklifs jǫfurr 4‑7, ‘hak[…]fur’ 325VIII 2 g


[5-6, 7-8] ærir elds hôklifs hauka ‘envoys of the fire of the high cliff of hawks [ARM > GOLD > GENEROUS MEN]’: This interpretation (that of Skj B, followed by Reichardt 1928, 213 and Ólafur Halldórsson in ÍF 25) means that l. 7 contains elements from three different clauses, a syntactic arrangement which is unique in the skaldic corpus (Gade 1995a, 13, 215-16). Two redistributions of the kenning components to avoid this situation have been suggested. (a) Kock (NN §511) has ærir elds ‘envoys of fire/the sword [WARRIORS]’ and jǫfurr hôklifs hauka ‘lord of the high cliff of hawks [NORWAY > = Óláfr]’. It is conceivable that eldr could mean ‘sword’ (cf. Note to st. 6/4), but Kock’s case for hôklif hauka as a synecdoche for Norway, based on the (inexact) parallels fjǫrðjǫrð ‘fjord-land’ Hókr Eirfl 5/3 and vegr jǫtna ‘way of giants’ ESkál Vell 14/5, is not convincing. (b) Kuhn (1929b, 201) suggests jǫfurr hauka ‘lord of hawks [soldiers]’, i.e. Óláfr (cf. skyldir hauka, st. 2/3 and Note) and ærir elds háklifs ‘envoys of the fire of the shark-cliff [SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MEN]’ (or perhaps the same, but with ‘rowlock-cliff’, from hár m. ‘thole-pin, rowlock’). Von See (1980, 28-32; 1999b, 267-8), in surveys of scholarship on this helmingr, rejects Kuhn’s interpretation on the grounds that hár ‘shark’ is only otherwise found in þulur, whereas klif hauka ‘hawks’ cliff [ARM]’ is a habitual collocation, and Kock (NN §2451) had also noted problems with it. Hofmann (1981, 14-15) points out in response that háklif ‘shark/rowlock-cliff’ would in fact be distinct from hôklif ‘high cliff’ in oral delivery due to its different vowel quality, and that parallels for the sea-kenning Kuhn proposes do exist, incorporating both terms for sea-creatures (humra fjǫll ‘lobsters’ mountain’ ÞGísl Búdr 2/4) and nautical terms (stafnklif ‘stem-cliff’ Þloft Tøgdr 4/6). Hofmann’s arguments are convincing, and Kuhn’s interpretation is a viable alternative.



case: gen.


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