Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 3I/3 — Óðrœris ‘of Óðrœrir’

Eisar vágr fyr vísa
(verk) Rǫgnis (mér hagna);
þýtr Óðrœris alda
ǫldrhafs við fles galdra.

Vágr Rǫgnis eisar fyr vísa; verk mér hagna; alda ǫldrhafs Óðrœris þýtr við fles galdra.

The wave of Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> [POEM] roars before the ruler; the works are successful for me; the wave of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM] booms against the skerry of incantations [TEETH].


[3] Óðrœris: so , U, ‘odreris’ R, W, B


[3] Óðrœris ‘of Óðrœrir <mythical vat>’: In Skm (SnE 1998, I, 4) this is the name of one of the three vats in which the giant Suttungr stores the mead of poetry before Óðinn steals it. But de Vries (ARG II, 72) and Frank (1981, 162) may be right to interpret Óðrœrir as the mead of poetry itself, which is certainly plausible with respect to the name’s origins (see below). On the basis of the ms. spellings, several eds have chosen Óðreris (SnE 1848-87, I; SnE 1931; SnE 1998), others Óðrøris (Skj B; LP). But Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1915b, 82) and Lindroth (1915, 176) are justified in choosing Óðrœris in light of the name’s composition. It is a cpd of óðr ‘soul, poem’ and hrœra ‘to move’, but scholars diverge on the interpretation. Two suggestions are (a) ‘that which moves the soul’ (LP: Óðrørir; North 1991, 47) or (b) ‘he who stirs, mixes poetry’ (Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1915b, 83; LP: hrœra 2). (c) However, in view of the generic meaning of hrœra, ‘to move’, the sense ‘that which sets the poem in motion’ is preferable. This would suggest that Óðrœrir denoted ‘mead of poetry’ at the time it was coined. It is unclear what the two further instances of Óðrœrir (Hávm 107/4, 140/6) denote, but they seem to indicate ‘mead of poetry’ rather than the vat from the myth (cf. S-G I, 129, 140). It seems that already Einarr skálaglamm uses Óðrœrir as the name of the vat. — [3, 4] ǫldrhafs Óðrœris ‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM]’: Here again, as in all other introductory stanzas (see Notes to st. 1 [All] and 1/1, 3, 4), we find a kenning for ‘poem’ combined with metaphors for the recitation of the poem: alda … hafs þýtr við fles ‘the wave of the … sea booms against the skerry’. Hafs, although here given as a part of the kenning for ‘poem’, strictly belongs to the imagery of recitation. The kenning for ‘poem’, ǫldr Óðrœris ‘the ale of Óðrœrir’, is inserted into this metaphorical image and fles ‘the skerry’ is used as the base-word of a kenning for ‘teeth’.




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