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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut, 51 [Vol. 7, 285]

[1, 3-4] gauta leiðar foldar humra ‘men of the path of the realm of lobsters [SEA > SEA PATH > SEAFARERS]’: LP (1860), LP, and Meissner, 238 all construe foldar humra as ‘land-lobsters’ (i.e. ‘snakes’), whose leið ‘path’ is ‘gold’. (Cf. orma leið, linns leið, etc., Meissner, 238.) This ed., however, follows NN §1197 in construing humra fold ‘land/realm of lobsters’ as ‘sea’, whose leið ‘path’ is the ‘sea-path’ seafarers cross. All other instances of humarr ‘lobster’ in kennings are in sea-kennings (e.g. humra heiðr ‘lobsters’ heath’, humra fjöll ‘lobsters’ mountain’; see Meissner, 96). The semi-redundancy of fold ‘land’ and leið ‘path’ is similar to the sea-kenning holmfjöturs leið ‘island fetter’s path’ (Hallv Knútdr 5/2III), where ‘island fetter’ itself is a kenning for ‘sea’. (See also Líkn 7/1, 3 mána hvéls hauðr ‘land of the moon’s wheel’ where ‘wheel’ simply refines the concept of ‘moon’). ‘Men of the sea’ or ‘seafarers’ accords well with the ‘sea of the world’ allegory and the Cross as ship in st. 33; see also the seafarer-kenning at 34/1-2.


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