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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, 10 [Vol. 2, 195-6]

[7-8] typpi élmars glóðu uppi glík eldi ‘the mast-heads of the storm-steed [SHIP] glowed aloft like fire’: Like its cognate toppr, typpi probably means both ‘mast-heads’ and ‘forelocks’ and therefore resonates with both levels of imagery: the actual ship and the metaphorical ship-as-steed. The simile of mast-heads glowing like fire may be inspired by the similar image in Sigv ErfÓl 16I. Reinskou (1922, 34-5) pointed out that both skalds are referring to the ship Visundr, and suggested that gilding on the mast-head, since not mentioned in earlier poetry, may have been an innovation in Óláfr helgi’s time. Hougen (1974, 18-19) doubted whether the skalds’ references to gold and gilded prows on ships out at sea are more than a poetic hyperbole, but cf. Encomium Emmae Reginae (ed. Campbell 1998, 12-13) for another C11th example.

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