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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Yt 8I/5 — teins ‘of the twig’

Frák at Dagr
dauða orði
frægðar fúss
of fara skyldi,
þás valteins
til Vǫrva kom
Spǫrs at hefna.
Ok þat orð
á austrvega
vísa ferð
frá vígi bar,
at þann gram
of geta skyldi
Sleipnis verðar.

Frák at Dagr, fúss frægðar, skyldi of fara orði dauða, þás spakfrǫmuðr valteins kom til Vǫrva at hefna Spǫrs. Ok ferð vísa bar þat orð frá vígi á austrvega, at slǫnguþref verðar Sleipnis skyldi of geta þann gram.

I learned that Dagr, eager for fame, had to depart by the word of death when the wise wielder of the twig of the slain [SWORD > WARRIOR] came to Vǫrvi to avenge Spǫrr. And the retinue of the leader bore the news from the fight to the east , that the flung grasper of the meal of Sleipnir <horse> [HAY > PITCHFORK] had to get that prince.


[5] valteins: vakins J2ˣ, R685ˣ


[5, 7] spakfrǫmuðr valteins ‘the wise wielder of the twig of the slain [SWORD > WARRIOR]’: (a) This is the interpretation offered by most eds (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B; Yng 1912; ÍF 26; Hkr 1991), and indeed valteinn is best regarded as ‘twig of the slain’, a variation on the common kenning pattern ‘twig or rod of wounds [SWORD]’ (Meissner 152). (b) Some commentators, in light of the report in Yng that Dagr learns of the death of his sparrow through a sonarblót ‘sacrifice of a boar’, see in valteinn a reference to a sacrificial twig used for divining or casting lots, cf. hlautteinn ‘sacrificial twig’ in Þvíðf Lv 1/4IV (see, e.g., Yt 1925; Turville-Petre 1978-9, 53; Sundqvist 2005a, 108). King Dagr would then potentially figure as a priest or seer. Yet such interpretations require val to have the sense ‘blood of the sacrificed’ (cf. valr m. ‘the slain’) or ‘casting of lots’ (cf. val n. ‘choice’), and neither these, nor the casting of lots with sacrificial blood, can be proven.



case: gen.


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