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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 7I/6 — varga ‘of outlaws’

Vasat ofbyrjar ǫrva
odda vífs né drífu
sverða sverrifjarðar
svanglýjaði at frýja.
Brak-Rǫgnir skók bogna
(barg óþyrmir varga)
hagl ór Hlakkar segli
hjǫrs (rakkliga fjǫrvi).

Vasat at frýja sverrifjarðar sverða svanglýjaði ofbyrjar ǫrva né drífu vífs odda. Hjǫrs brak-Rǫgnir skók hagl bogna ór segli Hlakkar; óþyrmir varga barg rakkliga fjǫrvi.

One did not have to taunt the delighter of the swan of the seething fjord of swords [BLOOD > RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR] [into joining] the strong wind of arrows [BATTLE] nor the snow-storm of the woman of weapon-points [VALKYRIE > BATTLE]. The Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> of the noise of the sword [(lit. ‘noise-Rǫgnir of the sword’) BATTLE > WARRIOR] shook the hail of bows [ARROWS] out of the sail of Hlǫkk <valkyrie> [SHIELD]; the crusher of outlaws [RULER] bravely saved his life.


[6] varga: varða , W


[6] óþyrmir varga ‘the crusher of outlaws [RULER]’: Óþyrmir is lit. ‘not-sparer’ (cf. þyrma ‘to spare, respect’). Varga here refers not to wolves but to criminals and robbers living outlawed in the forest like animals. This produces a kenning that refers to the ruler’s duty to ensure law and order in his realm. Cf. also ÞSjár Þórdr 2/1 myrðir varga ‘the killer of outlaws’. It is unnecessary to emend to ofþyrmir varga ‘the excessive sparer of wolves (i.e. their feeder) [WARRIOR]’ (so Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B).




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