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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gsind Hákdr 8I/1 — hjǫrva ‘of swords’

Hræddr fór hjǫrva raddar
herr fyr malma þverri;
rógeisu gekk ræsir
ráðsterkr framar merkjum.
Gerra gramr í snerru
geirvífa sér hlífa,
hinns yfrinn gat, jǫfra,
óls kvánar byr mána.

Herr fór hræddr raddar hjǫrva fyr þverri malma; ræsir rógeisu gekk ráðsterkr framar merkjum. Gramr jǫfra gerra hlífa sér í snerru geirvífa, hinns gat yfrinn byr kvánar óls mána.

The army went in dread of the voice of swords [BATTLE] before the diminisher of metal weapons [WARRIOR = Hákon]; the impeller of the strife-fire [SWORD > WARRIOR = Hákon] advanced, strong in counsel, ahead of the standards. The king of princes [= Hákon] does not protect himself in the onslaught of spear-women [VALKYRIES > BATTLE], he who attained an outstanding fair wind of the wife of the affliction of the moon [GIANT > GIANTESS > MIND].


[1] hjǫrva: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb, Flat, hjarta , F, ‘[...]arta’ 39


[1] raddar hjǫrva ‘of the voice of swords [BATTLE]’: This gen.-case phrase can be construed in various ways, each with merits and demerits. (a) In this edn it is treated as governed by hræddr, hence ‘afraid of battle’. Although hræddr is not normally followed by a gen. phrase, cf. gen. constructions meaning ‘brave in battle’ (Anon Óldr 1/1-2 and Note) and other adj. + gen. constructions in NS §§136-7; this is an appropriate description for Hákon’s opponents. (b) Finnur Jónsson (1884, 92-3; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; followed in Hkr 1991) reads the phrase as part of a kenning þverrir malma raddar hjǫrva ‘diminisher of metals of the voice of swords [BATTLE > WEAPONS > WARRIOR]’. Finnur (1884, 93) notes that while malma can stand alone with an agentive noun such overladen kennings appear to be within Guthormr’s style. (c) Kock (NN §252, followed by ÍF 26) links the phrase to herr ‘army’, thus ‘army of battle’, citing analogues in OE poetry. Such a locution would be uncharacteristic of skaldic style, though the possibility of OE influence cannot be excluded (see Note to l. 8), and comparable circumlocutions are attested in later skaldic poetry, e.g. Mark Eirdr 19/1II heiðinn herr hǫmlu vígs ‘heathen host of the staff of battle [SPEAR]’, and cf. Introduction to Sturl HrafnII.




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