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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson, 3. Austrfararvísur, 2 [Vol. 1, 585]

[4] til glœps ‘badly’: The phrase more literally means ‘for a crime’ or ‘for badness’, but prepositional phrases with til sometimes have adverbial force, as with til fulls ‘fully’ and til loks ‘finally’. The sense of the clause is thus that the reason Sigvatr will not turn back is that he would have to cross the dangerous water again. This is not precisely how the phrase has generally been understood. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; so also Noreen 1922a, 69) assigns glœpr the unrecorded sense ‘mortal danger’; Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 27) suggests that the clause may mean ‘We thus decided on a mad undertaking in the boat’; the eds of Hkr 1991 propose the sense ‘We thus got ourselves into trouble’; Jón Skaptason (1983, 83) renders this ‘Thus we began [this] folly on a boat’. Kock (NN §626) rather makes of til glœps an intensifier modifying vátr ‘wet’ (cf. Ger. sündhaft ‘terribly, very’, Icel. firna- ‘terribly, very’, etc.), but this obliges him to construe á báti ‘in the boat’ with the principal clause (beginning with Létk ‘I had’, l. 1), where it makes little sense. It also renders the remaining intercalary relatively pointless: vér stiltum svá ‘we managed so’ (or ‘thus did I arrange it’, Turville-Petre 1976, 81). Sahlgren (1927-8, I, 183-4), rejecting Kock’s view, suggests etymological links with words meaning ‘swallow, gulp, idiot’ and reads vátr til glóps/glœps ‘wet up to the neck’.

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