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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. Anonymous Poems, 3. Óláfs drápa Tryggvasonar, 14 [Vol. 1, 1046]

[2, 4] liðrœkjanda hjalmraunar ‘carer of the snake of helmet-trial [(lit. ‘snake-carer of helmet-trial’) BATTLE > SWORD > WARRIOR]’: Ms. ‘lid’ is taken here as the variant form of linnr m. ‘snake’ (see LP: 2. liðr m.). This is very common as the base-word to sword-kennings (Meissner 154). Other possibilities include líð n. ‘ale’ as in (b) below and lið n. ‘support’ or ‘troop’ as in (c) below. The interpretation of hjalmraunar is also problematic. (a) The parallels for hjalmraun ‘helmet-trial, ‑test’ as a battle-kenning are few and weak (Meissner 200), but the parallelism of structure and placement of the stanza’s three main kenningar (each an inverted kenning, a component of each of them forming the first elements of ll. 2, 3 and 6) seems deliberate, and favours the interpretation here. (b) Hjalmraun is more plausible as a sword-kenning, giving hjalmraunar líðrœkjandi ‘carer of the ale of helmet-trial [SWORD > BLOOD > WARRIOR]’, but warrior-kennings with ‘blood’ as determinant are extremely rare (Meissner 278). (c) The other solution is to emend hjalm to gen. sg. hjalms, yielding liðrœkjanda hjalms ‘user/carer of the support of the helmet [WARRIOR]’ (so LP: liðrœkjandi) and the adv. raunar ‘really’ attached to the second clause, but the construals along these lines in Skj B and NN §2453 are not persuasive.


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