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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Gamli kanóki, 1. Harmsól, 6 [Vol. 7, 77-8]

[5-8]: There have been several attempts to interpret the second helmingr, which is a continuation of the exhortation to repentance begun in st. 5. B’s horfa overloads the h-alliteration in the l. Even so, Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 15 n. 6) retains this reading. He takes horfa as gen. pl. of horfir which is not otherwise attested in poetry, but is presumably a nomen agentis from horfa ‘to look’ and would mean ‘one who looks’. Sveinbjörn understands a man-kenning horfir hljóms lǫgðis ‘spectator of the din of the sword, spectator of battle’, and glosses horfir as præliator ‘spectator, eyewitness’ (LP (1860): horfir). Apart from this, Sveinbjörn’s prose arrangement, detailed in his working notes in 444ˣ, is identical to the one presented above. Kempff (1867, 25-6) takes hætt rð ‘dangerous counsels’ (l. 5) to be the subject of horfa upp ‘to face upwards, come to light’ (cf. Fritzner: horfa). He construes þvíat hætt rð horfa á efsta dómi upp fyr allri skepnu ‘because dangerous counsels will come to light at the Last Judgement in the presence of all creation’. Kempff arranges the second cl. hver koma hljóms lǫgðis [er] ósǫgð, which he glosses hvarje strid kommer obodad ‘every battle arrives unbidden’. It seems likely that Kempff’s interpretation is influenced by S. Paul’s assertion that dies Domini sicut fur in nocte ita veniet ‘the day of the Lord shall so come, as a thief in the night’ (1 Thess. V.2), but it is unlikely that Gamli would suggest that the antagonism of God towards sinners will come unannounced. This edn follows Kock and Black in adopting Finnur Jónsson’s emendation of horfa (l. 5) to bǫrva, gen. pl. of bǫrr ‘tree’. This is a paleographically straightforward emendation, and bǫrva then forms the base-word of a man-kenning bǫrvar hljóms lǫgðis ‘trees of the sound of the sword’.

references

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