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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 25I/7 — handar ‘of the arm’

Oss dugir Ôleifs messu
— jǫfur magnar goð — fagna
meinalaust í mínu
Magnúss fǫður húsi.
Skyldr emk skilfings halda
skolllaust, þess’s bjó golli,
helgi, handar tjǫlgur
harmdauða, mér rauðu.

Dugir oss fagna meinalaust messu Ôleifs, fǫður Magnúss, í húsi mínu; goð magnar jǫfur. Emk skyldr halda skolllaust helgi harmdauða skilfings, þess’s bjó mér tjǫlgur handar rauðu golli.

It is proper for us [me] to welcome, sinlessly, the feast day of Óláfr, the father of Magnús, in my house; God strengthens the ruler. I am required to keep, guilelessly, the holy day of the lamented death of the king, who fitted my branches of the arm with red gold.


[7] handar: handa 39, E, J2ˣ, Holm2, 325VI, 321ˣ, Holm4, 325V, 325VII, Bb


[7] tjǫlgur handar ‘branches of the arm’: Hǫnd can mean ‘hand’ or ‘arm’ (LP, Fritzner: hǫnd). (a) As arm-rings were more common (and more valuable) as gifts than finger-rings, this is interpreted here as an explained metaphor meaning ‘arms’ (cf. LP: tjalga, as an alternative). Tjǫlgur ‘branches’ (in the form tjálgur) occurs in stanzas attributed to the legendary Starkaðr, apparently denoting his abnormally long arms (StarkSt Vík 5/2VIII (Gautr 13) and Note, StarkSt Vík 33/5VIII (Gautr 41)). (b) The phrase could alternatively be a kenning meaning ‘branches of the arm [FINGERS]’ (so Meissner 140), though the only other example of this kenning pattern, in Grett Lv 33/3V (Gr 65), is similarly ambiguous (cf. also Guðrún Nordal 2001, 305-6, 387).



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