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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]

[4] reitum sólar ‘from the paths of the sun [SKY/HEAVEN]’: The basic meaning of reitr is a furrow dividing two fields. By analogy it can also denote a garden bed, a path, a path on a game board, an area, space, region (cf. stjörnu reitar ‘star’s path’ 26/2 and dags reitar ‘day’s path’ Anon Líkn 32/6). This kenning suggests the boundary between the second heaven, associated with the sun and the stars and the warmth of life, and the lowest heaven (lopti næsta), associated with wind and breath. The image of a dividing furrow also resonates with the theme of Gen. I, where God’s work of creation consists of separation and division (light from darkness, dry land from sea etc.), and where the purpose of the ‘lights made in the firmament of heaven’ is to delineate day and night, seasons, days, and years. Konráð Gíslason (1877, 21) suggests that the pl. form reitum is used here in reference to the places in the sky where the sun appears at various times.

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