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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Frag 3III/4 — þat ‘that’

Næst sék orm á jastar
ítrserki vel merkðan
(nemi bjóðr, hvé ferk) flœðar
(fjarðbáls, of þat máli).

Næst sék orm, vel merkðan, á ítrserki flœðar jastar; nemi bjóðr fjarðbáls, hvé ferk máli of þat.

Next I see a serpent, well engraved, on the splendid shirt of the yeast’s flood [BEER > DRINKING HORN]; may the donor of fjord-fire [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] learn how I treat that in speech.


[4] þat: so A, B, hlyn R, , C


[3, 4] hvé ferk máli of þat ‘how I treat that in speech’: Lit. ‘how I fare with speech about that’. For fara ‘go, travel, fare’ with dat. in the meaning ‘compose’, see LP: fara 10 and ESk Geisl 8/4VII hvé ferk verka ‘how I deliver the work’. — [4] þat ‘that’: So A, B. The variant hlyn (m. acc. sg.) ‘maple’ (R, , C) could be construed as a part of a man-kenning (of hlyn fjarðbáls ‘about the tree of the fjord-fire’; so SnE 1998, I, 97), but that reading leaves an awkward half-kenning bjóðr ‘donor’ (of the drinking vessel) as the subject of the clause. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SnE 1848-87, III) retains of hlyn, which he construes with flœðar ‘of the flood’ (l. 3) and takes as a kenning for ‘ship’ (of hlyn flœðar ‘about the maple of the flood’). While that is certainly possible, it leaves an unsatisfactory kenning for ‘drinking horn’ (ítrserki jastar ‘the splendid shirt of yeast’, ll. 1-2), and, furthermore, the stanza describes a splendid drinking horn and not a ship.



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