Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon (ÓTHkr) 1I

[1] mó Maurnis ‘the heath of Maurnir [?]’: This is a tantalizing phrase, in which Maurnis (‘mꜹrnis’ Kˣ, F, ‘mꜹrnir’ J1ˣ, ‘mꜹrnar’ 291) is elusive and could be acc. sg. either of mór m. ‘heath, moor’ or of the horse-name Mór m. (LP: 2. Mór). (a) Given the general context of níð and the sexual insult in ll. 5-8, the most credible explanation is ‘mare’s rump’ (merarlend), suggested by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26). He assumes a connection with Mǫrnir/Maurnir, who is invoked in Anon (Vǫlsa) 4-12 in the formula þiggi Maurnir þetta blæti ‘may Maurnir receive this offering’, as the horse phallus Vǫlsi is passed round. Maurnir therefore seems in Vǫlsa to be a deity, probably phallic (see further Note to Anon Vǫls 4/5). Bjarni also cites the opinion of Olsen (1917, II, 656) that mǫrnir is a (horse-)phallus. The use of topographical terms (here mór ‘heath’) to refer to the female genitals is paralleled: see Clunies Ross (1973b, 85, n. 32). (b) Emendation to Mǫrnar or Marnar (f. gen. sg.) ‘of Mǫrn’ was proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 11, 35-6) and adopted by Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson (Nj 1875-8, II, 228-9) and Skj B. Mǫrn is a river-name, for which identification with the Marne has been suggested (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: Mǫrn), and it would provide a reference to water, forming a ship-kenning with mó(r) ‘steed’. This would work well in context, yet the mss agree on a root vowel spelt <ꜹ>, not <a>, and corruption of so natural a kenning would be hard to explain. Further, the sense of sparn would need to be ‘travelled’, though it normally means ‘kick, press hard with the feet’ (see Fritzner: sperna). (c) Kock (NN §526) largely agrees with (b), but takes as m. acc. sg. ‘heath, moor’, hence ‘heath of the water’, presumably ‘sea’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Nj 1875-89 = Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson. 1875-89. Njála: Udgivet efter gamle håndskrifter. Íslendingasögur udgivne efter gamle haandskrifter af Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskrift-selskab 4. Copenhagen: Thiele.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  7. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  8. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  10. Olsen, Magnus, ed. 1917. Norges indskrifter med de ældre runer. 2 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Brøgger.
  11. Clunies Ross, Margaret. 1973b. ‘Hildr’s Ring: A Problem in the Ragnarsdrápa, Strophes 8-12’. MS 6, 75-92.
  12. Internal references
  13. Not published: do not cite (VǫlsaI)
  14. Wilhelm Heizmann (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Vǫlsa þáttr 4’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1095.
  15. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Vǫlsunga saga 24 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Vǫlsunga saga 4)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 795.


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