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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 26I/6 — hirði ‘keeper’

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].


[6] ‑hirði: so J1ˣ, 61, 53, 54, Bb, ‑hirðir , F, ‑harðr J2ˣ


[5, 6] valserkjar veðrhirði ‘the keeper of the weather of the shirt of the slain [(lit. ‘weather-keeper of the slain-shirt’) MAIL-SHIRT > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl]’: (a) Normally hirðir ‘keeper, protector, owner’ appears in connection with weapons, precious objects or the like, rather than with battle (see LP: 1. hirðir; cf. also Fritzner: hirða). For this reason most interpreters (Fms 12; Finnur Jónsson 1891a, 176; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 160; LP: veðrhirði) reverse the order of the kennings that form the determinant: hirði serkjar valveðrs ‘keeper of the shirt of the slain-weather [BATTLE > MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIOR]’. (b) This edn (with Vell 1865, 73; ÓT 1892, 378; Hkr 1991) leaves the kenning unaltered, understanding hirðir in the sense of nærir ‘nourisher’, cf. Glúmr Gráf 6/3 nærir naddskúrar ‘nourisher of the point-shower [BATTLE > WARRIOR]’. (c) In ÍF 26 veðr is rendered as a ‘ram’ charging the mail-shirt (valserkjar ‘of the shirt of the slain’), and this results in a sword-kenning which is conjoined to hirðir ‘owner’ to form a warrior-kenning ‘owner of the sword’. But this is unlikely because an animal name used as the base-word of a sword-kenning is always that of a harmful, aggressive animal such as a wolf, hound or bear (Meissner 155). — [6] -hirði ‘keeper’: Mss and F give both -hirðir and gramr ‘ruler’ in the nom. form. Because only one of these words can be the subject of the sentence, this edn follows the majority of other mss, which have the nom. gramr and the acc. -hirði.



case: acc.


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