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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. Anonymous Poems, 2. Liðsmannaflokkr, 1 [Vol. 1, 1016]

[3] miklar ferðir ‘large militias’: Two interpretations of this phrase are possible. (a) It coordinates with, and duplicates, stafar malmregns ‘staves of the metal-rain [BATTLE > WARRIORS]’, i.e. is part of the subject of fregni ‘learn’ (as assumed above). (b) It coordinates with ættlǫnd farin rǫndu ‘ancestral lands traversed with the shield’, i.e. is part of the object of fregni ‘learn’ (so Skj B). Option (b) might seem the more attractive if we see the speaker as naturally emphasising the might of his own side rather than that of the opposition. But other passages in the flokkr do in fact lay emphasis on English prowess and stern resistance. If option (a) is correct, we could see the word ferðir ‘militias, troops’ as chosen in allusion to OE fyrd, which is cognate (AEW: ferð) and the standard term for the (levied) home army. The well-known Viking tactic of staging surprise landings before the fyrd could be alerted would then be testified to at first hand in this helmingr.

references

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