Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Nesv 9I/3 — hvítir ‘white’

Ǫld vann ossa skjǫldu
(auðsætt vas þat) rauða,
(hljóms) þás hvítir kómu
(hringmiðlǫndum) þingat.
Þar hykk ungan gram gǫngu
(gunnsylgs), en vér fylgðum,
(blóðs fekk svǫrr) þars slæðusk
sverð, upp í skip gerðu.

Ǫld vann skjǫldu ossa rauða, þás kómu þingat hvítir; þat vas auðsætt hljóms hringmiðlǫndum. Þar hykk ungan gram gerðu gǫngu upp í skip, þars sverð slæðusk, en vér fylgðum; svǫrr blóðs fekk gunnsylgs.

Men made our shields red, that came there white; that was obvious to the sharers of the sword-clamour [(lit. ‘sword-sharers of clamour’) BATTLE > WARRIORS]. There I think the young king made his advance up on to the ship, where swords were blunted, and we followed; the bird of blood [RAVEN/EAGLE] gained a battle-draught [BLOOD].


[3] hvítir: hvítr R686ˣ


[2, 3] rauða; hvítir ‘red; white’: Sigvatr contrasts the reddened state of the shields after the battle with their white pristine state on arrival. The ‘white’ might refer either to the natural colour of the wood used for the shield-board or to the colour in which it was painted (Foote and Wilson 1980, 278; Steuer 2004, 83-6; see also Falk 1914b, 128-32). The imagery of the red and white shield is also found in Sjórs Lv 3II.



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