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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Hfl 2I/1 — gunnar ‘of battle’

Góðmennis þarfk gunnar
glóðbrjótanda at njóta;
hérs alnennin inni
inndrótt með gram svinnum.

Þarfk at njóta góðmennis gunnar glóðbrjótanda; hérs alnennin inndrótt inni með svinnum gram.

I need to enjoy the favour of the good men of the breaker of the ember of battle [(lit. ‘ember-breaker of battle’) SWORD > WARRIOR]; here there is a very active household retinue inside with a wise king.

notes

[1] gunnar ‘of battle’: The usual uncertainty exists here whether to take this as the abstract noun gunnr ‘battle’ or the valkyrie-name Gunnr; cf. Note to Hfr ErfÓl 6/6. — [1-2] gunnar glóðbrjótanda ‘of the breaker of the ember of battle [(lit. ‘ember-breaker of battle’) SWORD > WARRIOR]’: The exact configuration of kennings is elusive here. The first citation in SnE draws attention to golls brjótandi or gollbrjótandi ‘gold-breaker’, a kenning for ‘generous man’. If this construal is correct, gunnar ‘of battle’ is not integral to the kenning but must loosely qualify either this, hence ‘generous man of battle’ referring to Óláfr, or else góðmennis ‘good men’, hence ‘good men of battle’, i.e. warriors. However, the construal may be incorrect (so Faulkes in SnE 1998, I, 190, II, 251), and the full kenning may be a kenning not for ‘generous man/ruler’ but rather for ‘warrior’: Óttarr’s idiom plays with the ‘generous man/ruler’ concept in passing, but embeds it and re-analyses it within the ‘warrior’ concept, creating a sword-kenning by combining either glóð ‘ember’ or goll(s) ‘gold’ with gunnar ‘battle’. The second citation in SnE has glóðbrjótandi ‘ember-breaker’, which forms an inverted warrior-kenning with gunnar, and this is preferred in this edn, as in Skj B and Skald. Goll(s) would not be a standard base-word for a sword-kenning. The closest comparandum would be gim (Meissner 150), and this is not a true parallel since its meaning in sword-kennings is ‘fire’ rather than ‘gem, jewel’.

kennings

grammar

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