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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 3. Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, 2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál), 2 [Vol. 1, 95]

[8] of bjarga ‘of a cliff’: In the pl., bjarg ‘rock’ is used in a collective sense to mean ‘precipice, cliff’: see CVC: bjarg. Here it is gen. pl., hence á horni bjarga ‘on the edge of a cliff’. The next syllable is problematic. (a) The FskA transcripts read ‘-um’, which is here taken as the expletive particle, normalised to the more archaic of; this appears before nouns, though more commonly before verbs (LP: of C). All the ms. readings, ‘horni vin-’, ‘hormum’ and ‘bormum’, are readily understood as due to copyists’ misdivisions of the minims of horni um. The form ‘hormum’ is presumably for hǫmrum ‘crags’, the reading adopted by Wisén (1870, 49), following LP (1860): hausreyti. (b) Previous eds, following the FskB transcripts, generally read vinbjarga, which LP: vinbjǫrg defines as klipper ved (omgivende) eng(e) ‘rocks with (surrounding) field(s)’. The first constituent of the cpd would then be vin f. ‘meadow’, a word common in Norwegian place names (see Jón Helgason 1946, 134-5). Kershaw (1922, 83) adopts the vin- reading, but it is not represented in her translation, ‘as he sat on a jutting ledge of rock’; similarly Magerøy (1963, 82): som sat høgt på eit berg. Von Friesen (1902, 66-9; so Noreen 1926, 163) would emend to vindbjarga ‘wind-rocks’, which he interprets as a kenning for ‘clouds’.

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