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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, 14 [Vol. 1, 301]

[5-8]: All eds regard Hlórriði garðs geira ‘Hlórriði <= Þórr> of the fence of spears [SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl]’ as the subject of farði of allan sæ ‘ferried all across the sea (lit. across all the sea)’. The remainder of this difficult helmingr is subject to several interpretations. (a) The construal shown above follows Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) in taking together veg jǫtna ‘path of the giants [MOUNTAINS]’, which could refer to Norway, and taking valfall ‘slaughter’ to refer to the death of Haraldr gráfeldr in the battle in Limafjǫrðr (Limfjorden, c. 970). Hence the helmingr appears to mean that Hákon, returning to Norway with this news, at the same time has a claim to authority there. In this edn, veg jǫtna is further taken as part of a construction ferja e-m e-t ‘to ferry/bring sby sth.’, parallel to similar constructions using færa ‘bring’ or senda ‘send’. Finnur Jónsson reads at ‘to’ rather than áðr ‘before’ in l. 5, and this forms a satisfactory prepositional phrase with veg jǫtna, but is problematic in other ways (see Note to l. 5). (b) Kock (NN §402, followed by ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991) interprets vitnir valfalls ‘wolf of death in battle’ as a kenning referring to a sword that Hákon jarl brought across the sea to the mountains (to Norway), but this is unsatisfactory because it would indicate an attack on Norway by Hákon. (c) Kuhn (1971b, 5), on the basis of (l. 5) in some mss, interprets vitni valfalls véjǫtna to mean ‘evidence of the death of the sanctuary-giants [DESECRATORS OF THE TEMPLE]’. Only one instance of jǫtunn in the sense of ‘harmful being’ is attested, however, in Egill Lv 25/4V (Eg 32) jǫtunn vandar ‘giant of the mast [WIND]’.


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