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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 13I/1 — Geir ‘the spear’

Geir- hykk grimmligt vôru
gunnreifum Ôleifi
loghreytǫndum líta
lóns í -hvassar sjónir.
Þorðut þrœnzkir fyrðar
— þótti hersa dróttinn
ógurligr — í augu
ormfrôn séa hônum.

Hykk lóns loghreytǫndum vôru grimmligt líta í geirhvassar sjónir gunnreifum Ôleifi. Þrœnzkir fyrðar þorðut séa í ormfrôn augu hônum; dróttinn hersa þótti ógurligr.

I think it was fearful for the distributors of the flame of the lagoon [(lit. ‘flame-distributors of the lagoon’) GOLD > GENEROUS MEN] to look into the spear-sharp eyes of battle-glad Óláfr. The men from Trøndelag did not dare to look into his snake-bright eyes; the lord of hersar [KING = Óláfr] seemed terrifying.


[1] Geir: so 321ˣ, geirs all others


[1, 4] geirhvassar sjónir ‘the spear-sharp eyes’: The majority reading geirs, lit. ‘of the spear’, is problematic, being not essential to the sense or syntax of the stanza. (a) The 321ˣ reading geir is adopted here, and the assumption made that it (or possibly geirs) is the first element of a cpd adj. geir(s)hvass ‘spear-sharp’, with tmesis. The cpd is thus parallel with ormfrôn ‘snake-bright’ in l. 8, also describing Óláfr’s eyes; cf. also compounds such as egghvass ‘blade-sharp’, eitrhvass ‘poison-sharp’. (b) The majority form geirs could be taken, as in ÍF 27, as a descriptive gen. (cf. NS §127, though the examples do not extend to the use of gen. as a compressed simile as would be assumed here). (c) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B), followed by Kock (Skald), emends gunn- ‘battle’ (l. 2) to gný- ‘tumult’ to produce gnýreifum geirs ‘glad in the tumult of the spear [BATTLE]’.



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