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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyv Lv 14I/2 — hjǫrðu ‘herds’

Fengum feldarstinga,
fjǫrð- ok galt við -hjǫrðu,
þanns álhimins útan
oss lendingar sendu.
Mest selda ek mínar
við mævǫrum sævar
— hallæri veldr hvôru —
hlaupsildr Egils gaupna.

Fengum feldarstinga, þanns lendingar álhimins sendu oss útan, ok galt við fjǫrðhjǫrðu. Mest selda ek mínar hlaupsildr gaupna Egils við mævǫrum sævar; hallæri veldr hvôru.

We [I] received a cloak-pin, which the landsmen of the channel-sky [ICE > ICELANDERS] sent us [me] from abroad [Iceland], and I spent it on fjord-herds [HERRINGS]. Most of all I sold my leaping herrings of Egill’s <legendary hero’s> palms [ARROWS] for the slender arrows of the sea [HERRINGS]; the famine causes both things.


[2] hjǫrðu: jǫrðu F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ


[2] ok galt við fjǫrðhjǫrðu ‘and I spent it on fjord-herds [HERRINGS]’: A definitive interpretation has yet to emerge. (a) Adopted in this edn is the reading of Finnur Jónsson, which assumes the tmesis, fjǫrð-hjǫrðu ‘fjord-herds [HERRINGS]’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; cf. Frank 1978, 115-16). On this reading the imagery of this witty stanza is wholly consistent. See Note to st. 13/5 on the specific sense ‘herrings’. (b) A widely-adopted alternative construal takes fjǫrð as meaning ‘last year’, thus leaving the noun hjǫrðu ‘herds’ free-standing and to be understood in its ordinary sense (CPB II, 37; ÍF 26; Turville-Petre 1976, 45). This analysis produces good sense and matches the prose narrative, which clearly understands Eyvindr as referring to livestock (bús), but possibly this reference is inferred from the stanzas themselves (cf. Olsen 1945b, 177-8). (c) Kock (NN §§1953A, 2905), reads fjarðar ‘of the fjord’ in place of fjǫrð ok, obtaining the same meaning, ‘herrings’, while avoiding tmesis, but a tmesis where the first (monosyllabic) word in a line is understood in combination with the last word of the line is a recognised type and quite prevalent in C10th skaldic style (Reichardt 1969).



case: dat.


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