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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Þorbjǫrn skakkaskáld, Erlingsdrápa, 1 [Vol. 2, 631-4]

[7] vágfýl*ingi (m. dat. sg.) ‘of the sea-fulmar [SHIP]’: Dat. of possession. Fýlingr ‘fulmar’ (by emendation) is taken here as the base-word in a kenning for ‘ship’. According to LP: fýling, the word is attested as a f., but is more likely to be a m. noun (taken as a m. dat. sg. here). A fulmar is an arctic bird (Fulmarus glacialis). For comparable kennings for ‘ship’, see Meissner 208, 216. The emendation also restores the internal rhyme (-ýl- : -él-). The last part of the cpd as it stands in the mss is difficult to make sense of, and the different spellings of the word show that the various scribes had problems recognising the word they were copying. Fylvingr (so , E, J2ˣ) is the name of a sword (see LP: fylvingr), and according to Meissner (222), it denotes the prow of the ship (brandr), but that explanation is not obvious. Kock (NN §348A) derives fylvingr from the adj. fǫlr ‘pale’. In his opinion, fylvingr denoted sth. of a dark brown or dark grey colour, either ‘sword’, ‘ship’, ‘staff’ or ‘nut’ (the latter is f., fylving). The problem with that explanation is that fylv- in the meaning ‘dark’ is otherwise not attested in ON.


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