Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hhárf Snædr 1I/2 — ótta ‘of fear’

Hneggi berk æ ugg
ótta; hlýði mér drótt;
dána vekk dul at mey
drauga á kerlaug.
Drôpu lætk ór Dvalins greip
dynja, meðan framm hrynr
— rekkum býðk Regins drykk
réttan — á bragar stétt.

Berk æ ugg hneggi ótta; drótt hlýði mér; vekk dul at mey dána á kerlaug drauga; lætk drôpu dynja ór greip Dvalins, meðan hrynr framm á stétt bragar; býðk rekkum réttan drykk Regins.

I constantly carry trepidation in the rock of fear [HEART]; let the company hear me; I bring to light a delusion after the maiden’s death in the cup-liquid of the undead [POETRY]; I make the drápa ring out from the grasp of Dvalinn <dwarf> [MOUTH], as it rushes forth on the path of poetry [TONGUE]; I offer men a correct drink of Reginn <dwarf> [POETRY].


[1, 2] hneggi ótta ‘in the rock of fear [HEART]’: The base-word hneggi is dat. sg. from hnegg n., which in this context appears to have the sense ‘rock, small skerry’ which is attested for its evident cognate ModIcel. (h)naggur ‘small skerry, cliff’ (AEW: hnegg; Árni Böðvarsson 2002: naggur). Parallel would be the kennings for ‘heart’ with base-word steinn ‘stone’ or mýll ‘ball’ cited by Snorri (SnE 1998, I, 108; cf. Meissner 138). The determinant ótta (gen. sg.) ‘fear’ accords with Snorri’s statement (loc. cit.) that words denoting emotions such as harmr ‘grief’ and tregi ‘sorrow’ can be used in kennings for ‘heart’. Snorri does not cite ótti, but the word may be selected here to express the poet’s humility towards his addressee (cf. Ormr Woman 1/1-2III). In skaldic usage the word (h)negg is otherwise attested solely as a heiti for ‘heart’, as seen in Þul Hugar ok hjarta 1/1III, in the kennings hnegg foldar ‘heart of the earth [STONE]’ (HSt Frag 7/2III) and hneggverǫld ‘heart-world [BREAST]’ (Anon (SnE) 101/3III), and in SnE (1998, I, 108). It seems necessary to posit the sense ‘rock, small skerry’ for this stanza, however, in order to avoid the complex emendations that are required if the sense ‘heart’ is selected instead (see Note to ll. 1-4).




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