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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 34. Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr, 6 [Vol. 1, 481]

[5, 6] hallands hafvita ‘of the diminisher of the ocean-beacon [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Eiríkr]’: This kenning is problematic. Hafvita ‘of the ocean-beacon’ (l. 5) can only be a kenning for ‘gold’ functioning as the determinant of a another kenning (or qualifying another noun), and the only apparent candidate for a base-word is hallands (l. 6), a word that can either denote the (then) Danish district of Halland or mean ‘of the rocky, mountainous land’. (a) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; following Konráð Gíslason 1892, 144) emends to hallendr (m. nom. pl.), a nomen agentis from the verb halla ‘pour out, lean to one side’ (see LP: halla), which he construes as the subject of hǫfðu ‘had’ (l. 5). Kock (Skald) adopts that emendation, but argues (NN §1975) that hallendr is used in the more general sense ‘diminishers’ (-förminskare). (b) Because all mss have a form of this word that ends in a gen. sg. ‑s, Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26; followed by ÍF 29 and, tentatively, the present edn), takes hallands as the gen. sg. of the agent noun hallandi (cf. the pl. hallendr above). The usual gen. sg. form of that noun is hallanda, but forms ending in ‑nds are attested in compounds (see ANG §422 Anm. 4). (c) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson also suggests tentatively that hallands could mean ‘of the rocky land [NORWAY]’ which could qualify gram ‘lord’ (l. 6) and refer to Óláfr as king of Norway. If so, the gold-kenning hafvita ‘of the ocean-beacon’ can only be construed with skeiðum ‘with warships’ (l. 8), i.e. skeiðum hafvita ‘with warships of gold’, but that interpretation is at best tenuous.

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