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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Valgarðr á Velli, Poem about Haraldr harðráði, 3 [Vol. 2, 302-3]

[3] af virki ‘from the rampart’: Virki (n. sg.) can mean both ‘rampart’ or ‘deeds’. Af virki ‘because of the deeds’ would give the following reading of ll. 1, 3: bjartr brími sveimaði af virki styrks vísa ‘the bright fire surged because of the deeds of the strong leader’. However, because of the strongholds (borgar) mentioned in l. 4, it is preferable to equate virki with ‘rampart’ rather than with ‘deeds’ here. Skj B adopts the A variant of ‘above’ and construes ll. 1-4 as follows (so also SnE 1998, I): Bjartr brími styrks vísa sveimaði of borgar virki; víkingar brutu fíkjum; sorg varp á mey ‘The bright fire of the strong leader surged over the ramparts of the stronghold; the vikings destroyed [them] ferociously; grief afflicted the maiden’. However, brjóta ‘break, destroy’ (l. 2) is regularly construed with an overt acc. object (see Fritzner: brjóta 1, 4; LP: brjóta 1-2). Styrks vísa ‘of the strong ruler’ could also modify víkingar ‘vikings’ (l. 2) (see SnE 1998, I, 218). Kock (NN §1143) takes af virki with brutu (víkingar brutu fíkjum af virki borgar styrks vísa ‘vikings broke off the rampart of the stronghold of the strong leader ferociously’), but brjóta af in that meaning is very rare (see Fritzner: brjóta af), and it is not clear who ‘the strong leader’ is.

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