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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ǪrvOdd Ævdr 1VIII (Ǫrv 71)/7 — skæstafr ‘the advancing stave’

Hlýði seggir,         en ek segja mun
vígs völdundum         frá vinum mínum.
Seint er at dylja;         sé ek eigi mátti
skógs skæstafr         við sköpum gera.

Hlýði seggir, en ek mun segja völdundum vígs frá vinum mínum. Seint er at dylja; ek sé skæstafr skógs mátti eigi gera við sköpum.

Listen men, and I will tell causers of slaughter [WARRIORS] about my friends. It is [too] late to deny; I see the advancing stave of the bow [WARRIOR = I] could not prevent fate.


[7] skæstafr: so 471, 173ˣ, ‘bæstafr’ 343a


[7] skæstafr skógs ‘the advancing stave of the bow [WARRIOR = I]’: The word skæstafr ‘the advancing stave’, the reading of both 471 and 173ˣ, is a hap. leg. of uncertain meaning, while 343a’s reading ‘bæstafr’ is not an Old Norse word. Skógr is used here in the uncommon sense ‘bow’ (cf. LP: 2. skógr) rather than ‘wood, forest’, its common meaning. The kenning stafr skógs ‘stave of the bow’ would make an acceptable warrior-kenning on its own, but the first element of the cpd, skæ- is difficult to assign a meaning (cf. LP: skæstafr). The horse-heiti skær ‘sprinter’ (Þul Hesta 1/8III) is not appropriate here, while there is a difficulty with the only other possible connection, with the cognate verb skæva ‘advance, rush [forward]’ (cf. LP, LT: skæva), in that the <v> of the stem skæv- is not present in the cpd under discussion. However, ‘advancing, rushing stave’ seems the most likely meaning for skæstafr, although Kock (NN §121) argues for a derivation from skæra, to which he attributes the same sense as skæva.



case: nom.


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