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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. Anonymous Lausavísur, 8. Lausavísur from Vǫlsa þáttr, 6 [Vol. 1, 1098]

[1] beytil ‘the pintle’: Also attested as a personal nickname, related to bauta ‘beat’ (AEW: beytill), cf. OE bȳtel, bīetl ‘hammer’. The plant name góibeytill, for field horsetail (Equisetum arvense L), which is found in Ldn (ÍF 1, 273) and Bárðar saga (ÍF 13, 110), offers an interesting parallel (Heizmann 1993, 21). The name refers to the fertile sporangial shoots of the plant that appear in the spring. Their phallic shape has given rise to names with a second element referring to the penis, e.g. Ger. dialect Perdsjlöt ‘horse-prick’, Pfåffenschwånz ‘priest-prick’ or Dan. hundepik ‘dog-prick’, rævepik ‘fox-prick’, præstepintel ‘priest-prick’ (see Marzell and Paul 1943-79, II, 237, 245; Lange 1959, 533, 536); cf. also Eng. cuckoo-pintle/pint (Arum Maculatum), containing pintle or pint ‘penis’, also ‘bolt, pin’.


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