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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 2. Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa, 19 [Vol. 2, 205]

[1] eyðendr ‘the clearer’: Lit. ‘the clearers’. Þjóðir ‘people’ is the subject, and eyðendr object, to elska ‘love’. Eyðendr is grammatically pl. and forms a kenning with vals geima ‘the Valr <horse> of the ocean [SHIP]’ (l. 4). The sea-warrior disables his enemies’ ships by clearing them of crew and equipment in battle. This is the only example in ON poetry of a kenning formed from eyðandi and a determinant meaning ‘ship’. The reference of the kenning is slightly difficult to determine. (a) The pl. is assumed to have sg. meaning here, referring to Magnús (so Finnur Jónsson, who translates søkrigeren ‘the sea-warrior’ in Skj B). There are other examples of this phenomenon amongst kennings for ‘man’ built on pres. participles, including ættstýrǫndum (dat. pl.), lit. ‘rulers of men’, which seems to refer to Haraldr alone in Arn Hardr 16/6 (see Note). The abrupt transition to the grammatically sg. þín ‘your’ in l. 2 is not a difficulty: compare fórt ‘you (sg.) went’ and kynduð ‘you (pl.) kindled’ in st. 12, or fenguð ‘you (pl.) furnished’ and lætr þú ‘you (sg.) allow’ in st. 14. (b) It has been suggested that eyðendr Vals geima ‘clearers of the Valr of the ocean’ refers to the two kings Haraldr and Magnús (CPB II, 188 n.), but the sg. þú in l. 2 and the focus on Magnús throughout the poem render this unlikely.


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