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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, 4. Sexstefja, 27 [Vol. 2, 140-3]

[3-4] bjartplógaðan brattakr bauga ‘the bright-ploughed steep field of rings [ARM]’: On the syntax of the phrase, see the previous Note. Kennings referring to the arm as the ground of rings are quite common, and gen. pl. bauga or gen. sg. baugs are especially frequent as determinant (Meissner 140). The epithet bjartplógaðan enhances the image of the arms of Haraldr’s followers shining with precious gifts. Kock ridicules the LP explanation ‘field worked with a bright plough’ (NN §863), but misrepresents it since LP goes on to give the contextual, transferred interpretation. What the debate calls attention to is the creative ambivalence of the cpd epithet, in which bjart ‘bright’ describes the kenning referent ‘arm’, while plógaðan ‘ploughed’ describes the base-word akr ‘field’, as noted by Fidjestøl (1982, 139). On a possible, but unwarranted, emendation to bauga, see Note on vǫluspakra.

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