Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þloft Tøgdr 2I/3 — lana ‘heaps’

Uggðu Egðir
ǫrbeiðis fǫr
svans sigrlana
sǫkrammir mjǫk.
Allt vas golli
grams skip framit;
vǫrum sjón sǫgu
slíks ríkari.

Sǫkrammir Egðir uggðu mjǫk fǫr ǫrbeiðis svans sigrlana. Skip grams vas allt framit golli; sjón slíks vǫrum ríkari sǫgu.

The battle-strong Egðir greatly feared the journey of the eager demander of the swan of victory-heaps [CORPSES > RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]. The king’s ship was all decorated with gold; the sight of such was to me more powerful than [any] telling.


[3] ‑lana: ‘lama’ Bæb, ‑vana FskAˣ


[2, 3] ǫrbeiðis svans sigrlana ‘of the eager demander of the swan of victory-heaps [CORPSES > RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]’: The kenning is problematic, since beiðir normally means ‘demander, desirer’ and forms kennings with determinants denoting such concepts as treasure, weapons or battle (see Meissner 290), as in the recurrence of the line ǫrbeiðis fǫr at st. 4/8, with the meaning ‘journey of the arrow-demander [WARRIOR]’. Here the kenning can be analysed in at least two possible ways: (a) As above (so also ÍF 27; ÍF 29). The warrior demands or wishes for the birds of battle in that he intends to make carrion of his enemies. Kock (NN §1129B) adopts the same analysis but interprets -lana differently: see Note to l. 3. (b) Ǫrbeiðis lana sigr-svans ‘of the eager demander of the heaps of the victory-swan [RAVEN/EAGLE > CORPSES > WARRIOR]’ (so LP: 1. ǫrbeiðir, sigrlǫn; ÓHLeg 1982); this unnecessarily assumes the kenning to be inverted. Skj B’s preference is unclear. (c) Meissner 122-3, 290 proposes instead to emend beiðir to beitir, with a suggested meaning ‘one who makes bite, feeder’. — [3] sigrlana ‘of victory-heaps [CORPSES]’: Skj B and Skald both print sig- ‘battle’, but the mss read sigr- ‘victory’, and sigr- is the form given in LP: sigrlǫn. The second element, -lana (f. nom. sg. lǫn) is taken by Kock (NN §1129B) as ‘lane, path’, like its cognate OE lanu. The kenning is unusual, since corpse-kennings are normally based on the pattern ‘food of the beasts of battle’ (Meissner 203), while words for ‘heap, pile’ are not normally part of the kenning structure (e.g. Arn Magndr 11/4II hrækǫstr ‘corpse-mound, corpse-heap’, 15/8II, 17/8II valkǫstr ‘heap of slain’). 




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