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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 38. Óttarr svarti, 3. Lausavísur, 1 [Vol. 1, 784]

[5-8]: The helmingr is lively but problematic, and both of the main solutions involve assuming unusual turns of expression. (a) The interpretation adopted here is essentially that of Kock (NN §2010). The final word is taken as vísi ‘sovereign’ (and this form is preferred to the later vísir; cf. ANG §401). (b) Skj B construes the clause structure of these lines very differently, reading mær es mikils vísir, with vísir not ‘ruler, sovereign’ but rather ‘bud’, and with a proposed proverbial sense, ‘small is the bud of something great’ (see also CVC: vísir). This leaves stjóri markar íslands ‘ruler of the forest of the ice-land’ as a kenning for Óláfr as Norwegian king; but it is difficult to explain why mǫrk íslands ‘forest (?) of the ice-land’ (or ísland markar ‘ice-land (?) of the forest’) should mean ‘Norway’ (see LP: ísland; also Meissner 88, 353; on ísland (l. 8), see Note below).


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