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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 18. Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, 2. Vellekla, 2 [Vol. 1, 284]

[1] bára Boðnar ‘the wave of Boðn <mythical vat> [POEM]’: This is a periphrasis for ‘mead of poetry’, which is used as a metonymical expression for ‘poem’ (see Note to st. 1 [All]). Boðn is one of the three vats in which the giant Suttungr kept the mead of poetry (SnE 1998, I, 4). Frank (1981, 162) thinks it a common noun meaning ‘vessel’ on the basis of etymologically related words in OE and ModIcel. However, the etymology of Boðn is disputed. Kock (1899, 109) relates it to OIcel. boð ‘feast’; Lindroth (1915, 174) relates it to OE byden, MLG boden(e) ‘vat, barrel’. Kock’s suggestion (NN §392), followed by Frank (1981, 162) and Krömmelbein (1983, 173-4), of combining bára Boðnar berg-Saxa into a kenning ‘the wave of the vat [DRINK?] of the mountain-Saxons [GIANTS > POEM]’, is impossible because of its structure: the kenning is overdetermined, i.e. it contains two determinants, Boðn and berg-Saxa. Furthermore the kenning bára Boðnar is attested elsewhere, albeit in the C13th, without the additional determinant ‘giants’, in hrœrik báru Boðnar ‘I stir (i.e. I deliver) the wave of Boðn’ (SigvSt Lv 2/3IV).

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