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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þhorn Harkv 17I/5 — brjóta ‘break’

‘Þá eru þeir reifir,         es vitu rómu væni,
ǫrvir upp at hlaupa         ok árar at sveigja,
hǫmlur at brjóta         en hái at slíta;
ríkuliga hygg ek þá vǫrru þeysa         at vísa ráði.’

‘Þá eru þeir reifir, es vitu væni rómu, ǫrvir at hlaupa upp ok at sveigja árar, at brjóta hǫmlur en at slíta hái; ek hygg þá þeysa vǫrru ríkuliga at ráði vísa.’

‘Then they are glad, when they know [there is] prospect of battle, ready to leap up and to bend oars, to break thongs and to shatter oarports; I think they speed the oar-strokes powerfully at the bidding of the leader.’

notes

[5-6] at brjóta hǫmlur en at slíta hái ‘to break thongs and to shatter oarports’: A hamla is a leather thong, loop or strap, while a hár is an oarport, which is ‘[a hole] in the top strake or sometimes lower’ (see Jesch 2001a, 155-6). Some eds reverse the position of the two verbs to give brjóta hái ‘break oarports’ and slíta hǫmlur ‘snap, split, tear thongs’, comparing Am 37/5-6 hǫmlor slitnoðo, háir brotnoðo ‘thongs split, oarports broke’ (NK 252; so Wisén 1886-9; Fsk 1902-3; Skj B; Skald). The verbs do indeed seem better applied thus; yet Jón Helgason (1946, 138) notes that hamla has been retained in Norway, where it designates a wider variety of mechanisms for retaining oars than simply thongs, and thus emendation may not be advisable.

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