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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 15. Glúmr Geirason, 2. Gráfeldardrápa, 3 [Vol. 1, 251]

[5-8]: The difficulty of this helmingr is reflected in the variety of readings for l. 7. There are at least four possibilities. (a) The interpretation adopted here, like (b) and (c), is based on the reading of 61 and Flat in l. 7. A slight drawback is that the shield-kenning is somewhat overdetermined, since mækis ‘of the sword’ and possibly eggjar ‘of the blade’ would suffice as the determinant (cf. Meissner 173-4). However, eggja mækis ‘of the sword’s blades’ occurs as the determinant of a kenning in st. 10/2. (b) In the interpretation of Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) the warrior-kenning is Freyr sverðfoldar ‘the Freyr <god> of the sword-land [SHIELD > WARRIOR]’, but this assumes that sverð ‘sword’, the first possible object for rauð ‘reddened’, would be understood not as an object but part of a kenning with tmesis (of which this would be an unusually early example; cf. the criticism by Kock in NN §255). (c) Kock offers the simpler reading foldar Freyr rauð sverð í manna dreyra ok fel(l)di seggi mækis eggjum ‘the Freyr of the land reddened the sword in men’s blood and brought men down with the sword’s blades’. He takes eggju ‘blade’ in Flat as dat. pl. eggjum, though the f. dat. sg. eggju can be retained with the same sense. As a ruler-kenning, Freyr foldar ‘Freyr of the land’ resembles forms such as vǫrðr grundar ‘guardian of ground’ (st. 5/4 below), but differs crucially in having a god-name as base-word, more usual in warrior-kennings. (d) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 26 follows the reading in l. 7, giving the order foldar Freyr rauð mækis eggjar í manna dreyra ok feldi seggi sunnr, of hlynninn á sigr ‘the Freyr of land reddened the sword’s edges in men’s blood and killed men in the south, fostering victory’. The word *hlynninn does not occur elsewhere but is derived by Bjarni from the rare verb hlynna ‘to launch, help (someone) on their way’, and in ModIcel. ‘to foster’.


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