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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), 17 [Vol. 1, 111]

[5-6] at brjóta hǫmlur en at slíta hái ‘to break thongs and to shatter oarports’: A hamla is a leather thong, loop or strap, while a hár is an oarport, which is ‘[a hole] in the top strake or sometimes lower’ (see Jesch 2001a, 155-6). Some eds reverse the position of the two verbs to give brjóta hái ‘break oarports’ and slíta hǫmlur ‘snap, split, tear thongs’, comparing Am 37/5-6 hǫmlor slitnoðo, háir brotnoðo ‘thongs split, oarports broke’ (NK 252; so Wisén 1886-9; Fsk 1902-3; Skj B; Skald). The verbs do indeed seem better applied thus; yet Jón Helgason (1946, 138) notes that hamla has been retained in Norway, where it designates a wider variety of mechanisms for retaining oars than simply thongs, and thus emendation may not be advisable.


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