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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 5. Haraldsdrápa, 7 [Vol. 2, 268]

[3] vel nær Úsu ‘hard by the Ouse’: (a) The words, consecutive in the text, are here construed together. Although the idiom vel nær e-u does not appear to be paralleled, there are comparanda such as allnær Úsu ‘very close to the River Ouse’, in Steinn Óldr 2/1-2, describing the same battle (cf. pairs such as vel mikill and allmikill ‘very great’), as well as the OE wel neah ‘very close’ (Bosworth and Toller 1898: wel I, 4). The saga compilers may have understood vel nær Úsu as ‘hard by the Ouse’ since they depict Haraldr and his men ranged on the river-bank itself (e.g. Mork 1928-32, 268). (b) Vel could alternatively modify rauð ‘reddened’ (Kock, NN §806), or meira valfall ‘greater slaughter’ (Finnur Jónsson, Skj B and 1934, 45-6); but in both cases the w. o. would be disjointed.

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