Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 3I/4 — ǫldr ‘of the ale’

Eisar vágr fyr vísa
(verk) Rǫgnis (mér hagna);
þýtr Óðrœris alda
ǫldrhafs við fles galdra.

Vágr Rǫgnis eisar fyr vísa; verk mér hagna; alda ǫldrhafs Óðrœris þýtr við fles galdra.

The wave of Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> [POEM] roars before the ruler; the works are successful for me; the wave of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM] booms against the skerry of incantations [TEETH].


[4] ǫldr‑: aldr‑ all


[3, 4] ǫldrhafs Óðrœris ‘of the ale-sea of Óðrœrir <mythical vat> [POEM]’: Here again, as in all other introductory stanzas (see Notes to st. 1 [All] and 1/1, 3, 4), we find a kenning for ‘poem’ combined with metaphors for the recitation of the poem: alda … hafs þýtr við fles ‘the wave of the … sea booms against the skerry’. Hafs, although here given as a part of the kenning for ‘poem’, strictly belongs to the imagery of recitation. The kenning for ‘poem’, ǫldr Óðrœris ‘the ale of Óðrœrir’, is inserted into this metaphorical image and fles ‘the skerry’ is used as the base-word of a kenning for ‘teeth’. — [4] ǫldrhafs ‘of the ale-sea’: The mss’ aldr and hafs have been subject to various interpretations. The main challenge in ll. 3-4 is aldr (l. 4), found in all mss, which interpreters have construed variously. (a) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) incorporates aldr into the intercalary clause in ll. 1, 2, giving verk hagna vísa aldr ‘deeds will always ornament the prince’. (b) Reichardt (1928, 199) also takes it to be an adv. ‘constantly’, but modifying þýtr ‘booms’. Finnur Jónsson (1934a, 18) rightly objects that this could not apply to the recitation of a poem. (c) Kock (NN §391) emends it to ǫldr ‘ale’ and links it to hafs ‘sea’. Kock first linked the cpd ǫldrhafs to Óðrœrir, but later (NN §2916) to vágr ‘wave’ in l. 1 (see Note to ll. 1-2). This edn follows Kock’s emendation but not his further suggestions. (d) Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 162) considers verk Rǫgnis aldrhafs as a kenning for ‘poetry’, though he provides no exact interpretation of it. It could only mean ‘work of the ale-sea of Óðinn [POEM]’, and as such would not match the structure of this type of kenning, in which ‘mead of poetry’ already stands for ‘poem’.




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