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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 15. Glúmr Geirason, 3. Lausavísa, 1 [Vol. 1, 266]

[2] berdraugar hjǫrs ‘the bare logs of the sword [WARRIORS]’: Draugr is assumed here, as in previous eds, to mean ‘log’, but ‘revenant, ghost’ is also possible (cf. Meissner 264-5 and Note to ÞHjalt Lv 1/5). The interpretation of ber- is also uncertain. (a) It is taken here as ber- ‘bare’, qualifying the metaphorical draugar ‘logs’ by hinting at the actual referent: these are logs without bark, i.e. humans; cf. a similar use of barklaust ‘barkless’ to qualify a warrior-kenning in Hfr Óldr 2/6 (and see Note). Ber- could also imply ‘without defence’, which would be appropriate to dying warriors. (b) Previous eds (see Hkr 1893-1901, IV; ÍF 26) take ber- in the sense ‘carrying’ (cf. the strong verb bera). Verbal elements attached to the base-words of kennings are normally derivatives of weak ‑jan verbs with a long root syllable and have a suffix ‑i, though other types occur, rarely (Meissner 280-2). A possible parallel is berdraugr auðs ‘carrying log of wealth [MAN]’ in GunnLeif Merl I 94/4VIII, though the ms. reads ‘ben’. On ber- see also Konráð Gíslason (1892, 67). (c) The variant ben- would produce an overdetermined warrior-kenning meaning ‘wound-logs of the sword’.


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