Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 32I/5 — fúrs ‘of the fire’

Hvar viti ǫld und einum
jarðbyggvi svá liggja
— þat skyli herr of hugsa —
hjarl sextían jarla?
Þess ríðr fúrs með fjórum
folkleikr Heðins reikar
logskundaðar lindar
lofkenndr himins endum.

Hvar viti ǫld hjarl sextían jarla liggja svá und einum jarðbyggvi? Herr skyli of hugsa þat. Lofkenndr folkleikr fúrs reikar Heðins þess lindar logskundaðar ríðr með fjórum endum himins.

Where would people know of the territory of sixteen jarls lying in such a way under one land-owner [RULER]? The army ought to consider that. The renowned army-game [BATTLE] of the fire of the hair-parting of Heðinn <legendary hero> [SWORD] of that impeller of the fire of the spring [(lit. ‘fire-impeller of the spring’) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] spreads along the four ends of the sky.


[5, 6] folkleikr fúrs reikar Heðins ‘army-game [BATTLE] of the fire of the hair-parting of Heðinn <legendary hero> [SWORD]’: (a) This edn follows Kock (NN §1887A), ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991 in regarding this problematic phrase as an elaboration of the expression ‘sword-battle’, of which Kock (NN §1887) adduces some examples. ‘Battle’ is replaced by folkleikr ‘army-game’ while ‘sword’ is rendered by the phrase fúrs reikar Heðins ‘of the fire of the hair-parting of Heðinn’ and interpreted as ‘that which flames against the head of Heðinn’. Reik f. ‘parting of the hair, hair-parting’ functions as a pars pro toto expression for ‘head’. ‘Fire’ is one of the commonest base-words in sword-kennings, but it is not usually determined by the object that the sword injures (cf. Meissner 157-64). (b) A totally different interpretation which contains a more standard kenning is proposed by Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Finnur Jónsson 1891a, 170-81; Skj B): reikar Heðins faldfúrsleikr ‘the game of the fire of the headgear of the head of Heðinn <legendary hero> [(lit. ‘headgear-fire-game of the head of Heðinn) HELMET > SWORD > BATTLE]’. This is problematic since it both includes an emendation of folk (all mss) to fald ‘headgear’ and configures the determinants in an unusual way, by inserting a freestanding noun from l. 5 (fúrs) between the two elements of a cpd l. 6 (faldleikr) to form fald-fúrs-leikr. There is a structurally similar kenning in Eil Þdr 12/8III Heðins reikar skálleik ‘the game of the bowl of the hair-parting of Heðinn [(lit. ‘bowl-game of the hair-parting of Heðinn’) HELMET > BATTLE]’, yet this does not match the extreme complexity assumed by Finnur Jónsson.




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