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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Keth Lv 1VIII (Ket 2)/7 — sjá ‘the sea’

Hér mun ek þiggja;         hygg ek, at valdi
Finns fjölkyngi         feiknaveðri,
ok í allan dag         einn jós ek við þrjá;
hvalr kyrði sjá;         hér mun ek þiggja.

Ek mun þiggja hér; ek hygg, at fjölkyngi Finns valdi feiknaveðri, ok í allan dag jós ek einn við þrjá; hvalr kyrði sjá; ek mun þiggja hér.

I will accept [lodging] here; I think that a Saami’s wizardry caused the baleful weather, and the whole day long I baled [water] [as if] alone in competition with three; a whale calmed the sea; I will accept [lodging] here.


[7] sjá: haf 471


[7] sjá ‘the sea’: Ms. 471’s reading haf ‘sea, ocean’ is also possible and was adopted by Edd. Min on the grounds that it gave a better reading from the viewpoint of alliteration. However, the rhyme between þrjá and sjá favours the reading of 343a. — [7] hvalr kyrði sjá ‘a whale calmed the sea’: Chapter 3 of the saga relates that the whale which protects Ketill’s boat against the fury of the storm appears to him to have the eyes of a human being. The implication is that the benevolent whale is in fact a shape-shifting magician. The motif of a benevolent whale is the reversal of a motif found in other fornaldarsögur, where a shape-shifter assumes the form of a whale to attack the ship of the hero; cf. GHr chs 2, 16 (FSGJ 3, 167, 238-9); Korm ch. 18 (ÍF 8, 265-6). In Frið ch. 3 a whale ridden by giantesses attacks the ships of the hero (FSGJ 3, 87-8).



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