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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson, 11. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga, 25 [Vol. 1, 695]

[7] tjǫlgur handar ‘branches of the arm’: Hǫnd can mean ‘hand’ or ‘arm’ (LP, Fritzner: hǫnd). (a) As arm-rings were more common (and more valuable) as gifts than finger-rings, this is interpreted here as an explained metaphor meaning ‘arms’ (cf. LP: tjalga, as an alternative). Tjǫlgur ‘branches’ (in the form tjálgur) occurs in stanzas attributed to the legendary Starkaðr, apparently denoting his abnormally long arms (StarkSt Vík 5/2VIII (Gautr 13) and Note, StarkSt Vík 33/5VIII (Gautr 41)). (b) The phrase could alternatively be a kenning meaning ‘branches of the arm [FINGERS]’ (so Meissner 140), though the only other example of this kenning pattern, in Grett Lv 33/3V (Gr 65), is similarly ambiguous (cf. also Guðrún Nordal 2001, 305-6, 387).


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