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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 36. Óláfr inn helgi Haraldsson, Lausavísur, 9 [Vol. 1, 528]

[1, 2] eik jarladóms ‘oak of the jarldom [WOMAN]’: The status of eik ‘oak’ and the function of the cpd jarladóms ‘of the jarldom’ within the helmingr have proved difficult to pin down. (a) In this edn jarladóms is construed as the determinant in a woman-kenning whose base-word is eik. Such a combination would provide a parallel to the woman-kenning tré bekkjar ‘tree of the bench’ in l. 5 and would belong to a rare kenning pattern where the determinant denotes a social or territorial unit. Examples, referring to men, are Egill St 21/5, 7V (Eg 92) askr ættar ‘ash-tree of the family’ and kynviðr ‘wood of the kindred’, and Glúmr Gráf 2/5, 6 Freyr foldar ‘Freyr of the land’ (NN §255; cf. ÍF 26, 156). (b) In this and interpretations (c) and (d), eik ‘oak’ is understood as an outright metaphor (‘woman’ as ‘tree’) rather than as the familiar skaldic kenning or corrected metaphor with determinant. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends Hǫrðar in l. 3 to hirðar, thus bringing the words sem hirðar jarladóms vissu ‘as the keepers of the jarldom knew’ together in a syntactic unit, but with jarladóms distant from the rest of the sem-clause. (c) Kock (NN §609) rejected Finnur Jónsson’s emendation and word order and construed l. 2 as a syntactic unit, jarladóms með blómi, which he explained variously as i jarladömets blomstring ‘in the flowering of the jarldom’ and i furstlig fägring ‘in princely beauty’. (d) Frank (1978, 175) suggested construing jarladóms as a gen. of place, ‘in the jarldom’.

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