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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 13. Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, 1. Hákonarmál, 8 [Vol. 1, 183]

[5, 7, 8] oddláar umðu; hné fyr straumi mækis ‘point-waves [BLOOD] roared’; ‘sank down before the tide of the sword [BLOOD]’: (a) If oddláar ‘point-waves’ and straumi mækis ‘sword’s tide’ are indeed kennings for ‘blood’, the literal sense of their base-words, ‘waves’ and ‘tide, current’, is exploited in the poetic context, cf. st. 7/5 and Note; also ÚlfrU Lv 1/4V and Note. The most usual sense of prep. fyr, ‘before’, produces the statement, exaggerated even by skaldic standards, that warriors sank down ‘before’ a tide or current of blood. It could alternatively be understood in the sense ‘because’, i.e. the combatants ‘sank down on account of (loss of) blood’ (so NN §1903A, followed by ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991, but rejected by Lie 1957, 85). (b) There has, however, been doubt about these as blood-kennings. Sahlgren (1927-8, I, 69-74) and Lie (loc. cit.) propose ‘shower of darts’ for oddláar, and LP: straumr interprets straumr mækis as ‘sword’s movement’, not a kenning for ‘battle’ (though cf. Skj B; Meissner 199-200; Sahlgren 1927-8, I, 69; Lie 1957, 85; Krause 1990, 81).

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