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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 26I/3 — myrk ‘of the dark’

Ok við frost at freista
fémildr konungr vildi
myrk- Hlóðynjar -markar
morðalfs, þess’s kom norðan,
þás valserkjar virki
veðrhirði bað stirðan
fyr hlym-Njǫrðum hurða
Hagbarða gramr varða.

Ok fémildr konungr Hlóðynjar myrkmarkar vildi at freista morðalfs við frost, þess’s kom norðan, þás gramr bað stirðan valserkjar veðrhirði varða virki fyr Hagbarða hurða hlym-Njǫrðum.

And the generous king of the Hlóðyn = Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’) of the dark forest <= Myrkviðr> [JUTLAND > DANISH KING = Haraldr blátǫnn] wanted at the time of the frost to test the battle-elf [WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] who came from the north, as the ruler bade the unbending keeper of the weather of the shirt of the slain [(lit. ‘weather-keeper of the slain-shirt’) MAIL-SHIRT > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] to defend the rampart against the Nirðir <gods> of the din of the doors of Hagbarði <legendary hero> [(lit. ‘din-Nirðir of the doors of Hagbarði’) SHIELDS > BATTLE > WARRIORS].


[3] myrk‑: merkr 61, 53, 54, Bb


[3] Hlóðynjar myrkmarkar ‘of the Hlóðyn = Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’) of the dark forest <= Myrkviðr> [JUTLAND]’: Except for Kock (NN §406) all eds analyse myrk- … ‑markar as tmesis (see Reichardt 1928, 9, 93 n. 20, 207-8). The cpd appears to refer to the Myrkviðr ‘Dark Forest’ that lies between Jutland and Holstein (Fms 1, 111; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 123), and if this is correct its ‘earth’ is Jutland. However, the numerous instances of the ON Myrkviðr refer to forests at various borders (Eggers 2002, 460-1), and the cpd here could refer to any wooded country (Finnur Jónsson 1891a, 174). Some interpreters have accordingly assumed it refers to Norway and conjoined it to morðalfs ‘battle-elf [WARRIOR]’ or simply to alfs ‘elf’ as a kenning for Hákon jarl (Fms 12; NN §406; Ohlmarks 1958, 381-2); Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 159) rejects this.




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