skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Liðs 7I/8 — elg ‘elk’

Knútr réð ok bað bíða
(baugstalls) Dani alla;
(lundr gekk rǫskr und randir
ríkr) vá herr við díki.
Nær vas, sveit þars sóttum,
Syn, með hjalm ok brynju,
elds sem olmum heldi
elg Rennandi kennir.

Knútr réð ok bað alla Dani bíða; ríkr lundr baugstalls gekk rǫskr und randir; herr vá við díki. Syn, vas nær sem kennir elds Rennandi heldi olmum elg, þars sóttum sveit með hjalm ok brynju.

Knútr decided and commanded all the Danes to wait; the mighty tree of the ring-support [SHIELD > WARRIOR = Knútr] went, brave, under the shields; the army fought by the moat. Syn [lady], it was nearly as if the master of the fire of Rennandi <river> [GOLD > MAN] were holding a maddened elk, where we attacked the army with helmet and mail-shirt.

readings

[8] elg Rennandi: so DG8, ‘elgr ennanda’ Flat

notes

[7-8]: (a) The interpretation adopted here yields a standard man-kenning (cf. Meissner 297). The fierce fighting around the circumvallation is being compared with a tussle between an elk and its would-be captor. Elk-hunting was a time-honoured pursuit in medieval Norway and Sweden and the prey was sometimes driven into steep-sided pits or trenches (Nedkvitne 1993, 307-8), whose resemblance to a moat may have triggered this comparison. A related simile occurs in Grettis saga (ÍF 7, 44) when Grettir protests that there is no need to hold on to him as though he were a wild dog (sem ólmum hundi). (b) Alternatively, elg Rennandi ‘elk of Rennandi / the river’ would form a natural ship-kenning. This is adopted in Skj B, leaving kennir syn elds as a man-kenning which is put in quotation marks to indicate a problem, but kennir elds would form a warrior-kenning ‘master of the sword’, with eldr as a sword-heiti (LP: eldr 7, and see Note to Hfr ErfÓl 6/4), and syn/Syn could be explained as above. (c) Kock (NN §906) reads Syn elds together (see Note to l. 6 Syn), leaving elg Rennandi ‘ship’ as both object to heldi ‘were holding’ and implied determinant of a man-kenning, with kennir ‘master, knower’ as its base-word, but this double construction is highly dubious.

grammar

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