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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 49. Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld (biog. vol. 5), Lausavísur, 21 [Vol. 1, 834]

[3, 4] Hildr hvítings ‘Hildr <valkyrie> of the bright drinking-horn [WOMAN]’: (a) Hvítings, the reading of Hb, appears to be correct, and accordingly it seems best to emend heldr to Hildr, as adopted in Skj B, which yields a well-paralleled kenning (cf. Meissner 406, 418). Indeed, scribal alteration of ‘hildr’ to ‘heldr’ is natural enough before at hvôru ‘at all events’. (b) Boer (1899a, 156-7) achieves a similar meaning by the more radical emendation of at vér ‘that we’ in l. 1 to Vôr, at, in which the goddess-name Vôr forms the base-word of a woman-kenning, used in direct address. (c) It is possible to retain ms. heldr ‘rather’ (so earlier Fbr 1852; Gaertner 1907) and to read, with all the mss but Hb, hvít brúðr ‘fair lady’ (vocative) for hvítings. This makes sense of the passage, but paleographically it is implausible. As Finnur Jónsson (1932-3) points out, it is difficult to see why a scribe in the ms. tradition of Hb should have changed hvít brúðr to hvítings, as this makes the meaning of the passage obscure if heldr is correct. (d) A further possibility avoiding emendation of heldr is to interpret hvítings as a sword rather than a drinking horn (both meanings are attested: see LP: hvítingr) and make it depend on sár, hence ‘sword-wound’ (so also Kock, NN §712B; ÍF 6). We can be fairly certain, though, that this was not the version known to the writer of Fbr, since he tells us that before he was pierced by an arrow, Þormóðr had received no wound (ÍF 6, 268; ÓHLeg (1982, 198) says æigi stor sar ‘not serious wounds’).

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