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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 54. Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja, 33 [Vol. 1, 935]

[1-4]: The general sense of the helmingr is clearly that Óláfr was summoned by God from this world into heaven; but there are alternative analyses of the kenning elements, and alternative solutions to the fact that there is only one dat. noun, bragningi ‘prince’, but two finite verbs, bauð ‘invited’ and fagni ‘receive, welcome’, requiring a dat. object. (a) In the text above, nom. sg. þengill forms a natural kenning for God with byrtjalds ‘wind-tent [SKY/HEAVEN]’, which is set in apposition to the nom. sg. Kristr ‘Christ’ (so also Skj B). Þróttarstrǫngum ‘strong in valour’ is taken as an attributive adj. with bragningi ‘prince’, and þeim is taken with heimi, hence ‘the world’. Fagni lacks an explicit object, but this is easily understood to be the same bragningi ‘prince’ as in the first clause. (b) In Skj B (following Konráð Gíslason 1895-7) strǫngum ‘strong’ is taken as substantival, hence þeim þróttar strǫngum ‘the one strong in valour/power’. This has the advantage of leaving bragningi available as the explicit object of fagni. (c) Kock (NN §1187) objects to the positioning of Kristr relative to the kenning. He emends þengill to dat. sg. þengil, object of bauð ‘invited’, and takes þeim as a pron. ‘him’ in apposition to it. He takes together af heimi byrtjalds ‘from the world of the wind-tent [HEAVEN]’, qualifying bauð, so that God calls to Óláfr out of heaven. However, the addition of heimi ‘world’ to the heaven-kenning makes it overloaded, and it is more natural to understand af heimi as referring to Óláfr leaving the earth.


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