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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. Anonymous Poems, 2. Liðsmannaflokkr, 7 [Vol. 1, 1024]

[7-8]: (a) The interpretation adopted here yields a standard man-kenning (cf. Meissner 297). The fierce fighting around the circumvallation is being compared with a tussle between an elk and its would-be captor. Elk-hunting was a time-honoured pursuit in medieval Norway and Sweden and the prey was sometimes driven into steep-sided pits or trenches (Nedkvitne 1993, 307-8), whose resemblance to a moat may have triggered this comparison. A related simile occurs in Grettis saga (ÍF 7, 44) when Grettir protests that there is no need to hold on to him as though he were a wild dog (sem ólmum hundi). (b) Alternatively, elg Rennandi ‘elk of Rennandi / the river’ would form a natural ship-kenning. This is adopted in Skj B, leaving kennir syn elds as a man-kenning which is put in quotation marks to indicate a problem, but kennir elds would form a warrior-kenning ‘master of the sword’, with eldr as a sword-heiti (LP: eldr 7, and see Note to Hfr ErfÓl 6/4), and syn/Syn could be explained as above. (c) Kock (NN §906) reads Syn elds together (see Note to l. 6 Syn), leaving elg Rennandi ‘ship’ as both object to heldi ‘were holding’ and implied determinant of a man-kenning, with kennir ‘master, knower’ as its base-word, but this double construction is highly dubious.


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