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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Lilja, 11 [Vol. 7, 573-5]

[1] guð breytti og brá hætti til ‘God transformed and changed his behaviour’: The reading here follows Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and most other eds: according to LP the idiom bregða hætti til means to change one’s way of proceeding, but this is not attested by any other dictionary. Bregða occurs with a variety of prepositions and adverbials, but idioms with til always have a gen. object and hætti is dat. sg. Bregða e-u til e-s can mean ‘to change one thing into or make equal with another’ (Fritzner: bregða til e-s), and breyta (til) can mean ‘to vary, alternate, arrange elegantly’ (ONP: breyta 3; Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4: breyta 1). Kock disputes that háttr can mean ‘way of proceeding’ (so Skj B fremgangsmåde) and argues that it rather means ‘condition, type, nature’. However, it is well attested in the sense ‘manner of behaviour, characteristic behaviour’ (see SnSt Ht 37/5 and 89/5III). Kock translates ‘God changed and re-made nature: blood and flesh from water and earth’ (NN §3390).

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