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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Glúmr Lv 1I/5 — valir ‘falcons’

Vel hefr hefnt, en hafna
hjǫrs berdraugar fjǫrvi,
— folkrakkr, of vannt, fylkir,
framligt — Haraldr Gamla,
es dǫkkvalir drekka
dolgbands fyr ver handan
— roðin frák rauðra benja
reyr — Hôkunar dreyra.

Haraldr hefr vel hefnt Gamla, en berdraugar hjǫrs hafna fjǫrvi — folkrakkr fylkir, of vannt framligt —, es dǫkkvalir dolgbands drekka dreyra Hôkunar fyr handan ver; frák reyr rauðra benja roðin.

Haraldr has avenged Gamli well, and the bare logs of the sword [WARRIORS] give up life — battle-bold leader, you fought outstandingly —, when the dark falcons of the battle-god [= Óðinn > RAVENS] drink Hákon’s blood across the sea; I have heard that reeds of red wounds [SPEARS] were reddened.

notes

[5, 6] dǫkkvalir dolgbands ‘the dark falcons of the battle-god [= Óðinn > RAVENS]’: Valir ‘falcons’ is clearly the base-word to a raven-kenning, but the variants brands/bands and alternative interpretations of dǫkk- produce different routes by which the raven-kenning is arrived at. (a) The reading -bands ‘band’ has considerable ms. support, including that of the main ms., and is adopted here, as in ÍF 26, ÍF 29 and Hkr 1991. Band is taken in the sense ‘god’, forming the base-word of a kenning dolgband ‘battle-god [= Óðinn]’, whose valir ‘falcons’ are ravens. Dǫkk- ‘dark’ then describes the birds; so ÍF 26, ÍF 29. The drawback to this analysis is that the word band rarely or never occurs in the sg. in the sense ‘god’ (see LP: band 5), but -bands is nonetheless tentatively adopted here, as the lectio difficilior and the reading with strongest ms. support. (b) The variant -brands could form dǫkkvalir dolgbrands dark falcons of the strife-flame [SWORD > RAVENS/EAGLES]’ (so LP: dǫkkvalr), though raven-kennings rarely have a term for a weapon as the determinant (see Meissner 122). (c) Brands could alternatively form an inverted kenning dolgbrands dǫkkvalir ‘falcons of the pool of the strife-flame [(lit. ‘pool-falcons of the strife-flame’) SWORD > BLOOD > RAVENS/EAGLES]’ (so Finnur Jónsson, Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B). Dolgbrandr ‘strife-flame’ is a stereotypical sword-kenning (see Meissner 150), which in turn provides the determinant of a blood-kenning whose base-word is dǫkk, taken now not as the adj. ‘dark’ but the noun ‘pool’, cf. Kolli Ingdr 4/7, 8II dǫkk vápna ‘pool of weapons [BLOOD]’ (ms. ‘doct’). (d) The Fsk variant ‘dog(g)’ would point to dǫgg ‘dew’, which would also be suitable in a blood-kenning.

kennings

grammar

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