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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson, 3. Austrfararvísur, 10 [Vol. 1, 597]

[6] á mó hagþorns ‘on the hawthorn’s moor [LAND]’: The point is that ships are drawn up onto land at the onset of winter – and so is the poet as he rides reluctantly on his mission. (a) The phrase adequately conveys the sense ‘dry land’. As a kenning it is not very convincing, but the alternatives are arguably not more so. (b) Kock (NN §628) interprets gen. hagþorns adjectivally to mean ‘overgrown with hawthorns’, so that hagþorns is not a kenning (so also ÍF 27). (c) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B, but cf. LP: hagþorn) construes hagþorns with hestar Ekkils ‘the horses of Ekkill <sea-king> [SHIPS]’ in l. 5; but it is superfluous in that kenning, and there is no apparent reason to associate hawthorns with ships. (d) Meissner 88 suggests emending to mar ‘sea’, producing an eccentric kenning but one that would have logic as the inverse of the pattern láð þangs ‘land of sea-weed [SEA]’. The range of the hawthorn in Norway and Sweden has played a role in attempts to identify Sigvatr’s route for the journey and the season of his departure: see Beckman (1923, 331); Beckman (1934, 213); Edqvist (1943, 70-1).


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