Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þhorn Harkv 6I/4 — leik ‘the sport’

‘Úti vill jól drekka,         ef skal einn ráða,
fylkir inn framlyndi,         ok Freys leik heyja.
Ungr leiddisk eldvelli         ok inni at sitja,
varma dyngju         eða vǫttu dúns fulla.

‘Inn framlyndi fylkir vill drekka jól úti, ef einn skal ráða, ok heyja leik Freys. Ungr leiddisk eldvelli ok at sitja inni, varma dyngju eða vǫttu fulla dúns.

The courageous leader wants to toast the Yuletide out at sea, if he alone has his way, and practise the sport of Freyr <god> [BATTLE]. [When] young he grew tired of cooking by the fire and sitting indoors, of a warm women’s chamber and of mittens filled with down.


[4] leik Freys ‘the sport of Freyr <god> [BATTLE]’: Snorri apparently understood the kenning to mean ‘battle’, given that he cites the stanza in evidence of Haraldr’s war-making over the winter. Since Freyr is not generally known as a god of war but rather of fertility, it has been suggested (by Ólafur Briem: see ÍF 26, 112) that this may instead refer to some fertility rite associated with Yule. Yet leikr is not otherwise known to have the meaning ‘sacrifice, offering’ that its cognate OE lāc may have. Toasts were, however, drunk to Óðinn, Njǫrðr and Freyr at Yule, as observed in Hkr (ÍF 26, 168). Hkr 1991 suggests as an alternative that ‘Freyr’s sport’ is love, but this would seem to contradict the point of the stanza, which is that Haraldr has never cared for ease and pleasure.




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