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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyv Lv 1I/3 — hvassa ‘keen’

Blóðøxar téa beiða
brynþings fetilstinga
(oss gerask hneppt) ins hvassa
hefnendr (setuefni).
Heldr es vant, en vildak
veg þinn, konungr, segja
— fôum til fornra vápna
fljótt — hersǫgu dróttni.

Hefnendr ins hvassa Blóðøxar téa beiða brynþings fetilstinga; setuefni gerask oss hneppt. Es heldr vant segja dróttni hersǫgu, en vildak veg þinn, konungr; fôum fljótt til fornra vápna.

The avengers of the keen [Eiríkr] Blóðøx (‘Blood-axe’) are asking for a mail-shirt-assembly [BATTLE] with the sword-belt-stabber [SWORD]; the chances of peace are becoming scant for us. It is rather difficult to tell a lord a tale of war, but I wished for your honour, king; let us quickly reach for our old weapons.


[3] hvassa: hvǫssu Flat


[1, 3] ins hvassa Blóðøxar ‘of the keen [Eiríkr] Blóðøx (“Blood-axe”)’: King Eiríkr Haraldsson: see Introduction. The origin of Eiríkr’s nickname, first attested in this stanza, is unclear: it might refer affirmatively to his victories or hostilely to his alleged fratricidal tendencies (Andersen 1977, 92-3). A play upon the nickname evidently determines the choice of adj. hvassa ‘keen’, which however has natural (m.) gender, agreeing with implicit Eiríks, rather than grammatical (f.) gender, agreeing with -øxar ‘axe’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; ÍF 26). Kock argues for agreement with the sword-kenning fetilstinga (NN §2215), which would also be possible, as, grammatically, would agreement with -þings ‘assembly’.



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