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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 4. Auðunn illskælda, Lausavísa, 2 [Vol. 1, 122]

[3] herkir hyrjar serkja ‘giant of the fire of mail-shirts [SWORD > WARRIOR]’: Guðmundur Finnbogason (1928, 223-4) assumes that the kenning refers to an unnamed servant who has locked the gate of the yard in which the poets were imprisoned overnight. Alternatively, it might be addressed to a fictitious bystander, or even refer to the poet himself if in apposition to vér ‘we [I]’. Herkir is recorded as a giant-name in Þul Jǫtna I 2/3III. Etymologically the noun means ‘devastator’ or ‘noise-maker’, and can also refer to fire (cf. LP: herkir; AEW: herkir; Note to Þul Jǫtna I 2/3III). A man-kenning (in this case specifically a warrior-kenning) with ‘giant’ as base-word is usually pejorative (cf. SnE 1998, I, 40), and this would be appropriate if the referent were a servant.


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