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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Gamli kanóki, 1. Harmsól, 29 [Vol. 7, 97-8]

[1-4]: There have been various attempts to interpret this helmingr. Kempff (1867, 41) follows Sveinbjörn Egilsson (prose arrangement in 444ˣ) in taking vitrar from vitr ‘wise’. They construe this with fylgjandi (l. 3) to give the phrase fylgjandi vitrar ‘wise followers’, which Kempff interprets as a reference to the Apostles, who witnessed the Ascension. Finnur Jónsson appears to take fylgjandi as pres. part. of fylgja ‘to accompany’, adjectival in force, amplifying skrýddr in the expression skrýddr, fylgjandi helgu holdi, which he translates forklaret følgende dit hellige legeme ‘transfigured (or glorified) following your holy body’ (Skj B). As Kock (NN §2111) objects, Finnur’s meaning is elusive. Kock quotes parallels from Líkn and Lil (see following Note) in support of his reading of skrýddr helgu holdi ‘clothed with your holy flesh’ as a logical unit, and construes fylgjandi (which he translated as ‘helping’) as part of the God-kenning fylgjandi dróttinn himins ‘helping lord of heaven’. Black (1971, 213) adopts this arrangement, translating fylgjandi as ‘gracious’, an attempt to characterise the nature of Christ’s ‘help’. For uses of fylgja to mean ‘help, assist, show kindness’, which are by no means unusual, see Fritzner: fylgja. Kock’s interpretation has been followed here, although it and that in Skj B also require emendation to vitrir nom. pl. in l. 2. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 254) suggests that B’s ‘drotte…’ (l. 1) should be reconstructed dróttir nom. pl. of drótt ‘people’, which may be construed with B’s reading vitrar ‘wise’ (l. 2). This has the advantage of avoiding the need to emend in l. 2, but leaves a Christ-kenning, fylgjandi himins, where fylgjandi (pres. part.) has to function as a noun.

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