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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞKolb Eirdr 8I/6 — vǫrn

Þar vas hjalmaðs herjar
Hropts við dreyrgar toptir

Orð fekk gótt, es gerði
grams vǫrn blôum hjǫrvi
(hǫll bilar hára fjalla,)
Hyrningr (áðr þat fyrnisk).

Þar vas … hjalmaðs herjar … við dreyrgar toptir Hropts … Hyrningr, es gerði vǫrn grams blôum hjǫrvi, fekk gótt orð; hǫll hára fjalla bilar, áðr þat fyrnisk.

There was … of the helmeted host … against the bloody homesteads of Hroptr <= Óðinn> [SHIELDS] … Hyrningr, who defended the king with a dark sword, gained a good reputation; the hall of the high mountains [SKY] will break before that is forgotten.


[6] vǫrn: so 54, Bb, Flat, vǫr , F, 61, vǫrr J1ˣ, J2ˣ


[5-6] gerði vǫrn grams ‘defended the king’: Lit. ‘performed the defence of the king’. The ms. reading vǫrr/vǫrn in l. 6 is likely to supply the object to gerði ‘did, made, performed’. (a) Vǫrn ‘defence’, the reading of 54, Bb and Flat, gives good sense, although since it is restricted to C- and D-group mss of ÓT there may be some doubt whether it is the original reading. (b) Vǫrr, the reading of J2ˣ (partly supported by vǫr in the other Hkr mss) is taken by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) as the base-word of a kenning vǫrr grams ‘sea of the sword [BLOOD]’, hence gerva vǫrr grams ‘to cause blood’, i.e. to inflict wounds. This is possible, since the adj. gramr ‘angry’ is used substantivally as the name of the legendary hero Sigurðr’s sword and by extension any sword (LP: 1. gramr 2). However, gramr ‘king, ruler’ is far more common in skaldic poetry, and a more natural assumption when juxtaposed with vǫrn ‘defence’. (c) It has been suggested (Nj 1875-8, II, 267-8) that vǫr, the reading of Kˣ, F and 61, is here a f. noun with a similar meaning to vǫrn ‘defence’, but the word is not attested elsewhere.



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