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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur, 17 [Vol. 2, 595-6]

[2] hlað-Nipt alindriptar ‘headband-Nipt <norn> of forearm-snow [GOLD > WOMAN]’: A hlað could be either a ‘headband’ or a ‘decorative border on clothing’ (LP). Nipt is not a frequently-occurring word, mostly used to mean either ‘sister’ or ‘niece’ (LP), though etymologically it is a precise term for ‘sister’s daughter’ (AEW). None of these is particularly relevant in this context, and it may be better to take it as the name of a norn (attested in Þul Ásynja 5/3III) giving ‘the norn of the golden headband’; indeed Ermingerðr is described in the saga-prose as wearing a golden headband (cf. Note to st. 15/6-7). Alindript ‘forearm-snow’ is usually taken to mean ‘silver’ (LP; Meissner 224; NN §976; ÍF 34; Bibire 1988) and could indeed be taken so here. However, woman-kennings are normally constructed with a word or kenning for ‘gold’, rather than ‘silver’, as determinant (Meissner 413-14; cf. st. 4/4; associations of women with gold hair and headdresses are also found in sts 6, 15). Although ‘snow’ does seem to suggest ‘silver’ rather than ‘gold’, there is evidence that it could be used in ‘gold’-kennings in Rǫgnvaldr’s and subsequent poetry. Thus there are similar kennings in RvHbreiðm Hl 8/3III dript alnar ‘snow-drift of the fore-arm’ and SnSt Ht 43/3-4III glaðdript Grotta ‘joyful snow-drift of Grotti’. Meissner 224 translates both of these as Silber ‘silver’, however the former is about Gunnar Gjúkason and the Niflung treasure, and this and the reference to Grotti in the latter suggest that they are in fact gold-kennings. While Snorri makes a clear distinction between red gold and white silver (SnE 1998, I, 61), the Litla Skálda treatise allows for the possibility of constructing gold-kennings with words meaning ‘snow’ or ‘ice’ (SnE 1931, 256), particularly in relation to the hand. Thus, Rǫgnvaldr’s woman-kenning must be understood to include a gold-kenning as was traditional, though the gold-kenning itself is not traditional.


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