Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Hár Lv 2I

[2-3] eik læbaugs ‘the oak of the deceit-ring [SEA > SHIP]’: The context demands a ship-kenning with eik ‘oak’ as base-word, and læbaugs appears to be a sea-kenning, though it is unclear how it works (so Meissner 95). (a) The second element -baugs ‘ring, encircler’ would plausibly form part of a determinant meaning ‘sea’, if joined with a word meaning ‘land’, cf. eybaugr m. ‘island-ring [SEA]’ (LP: eybaugr). - in its usual senses ‘deceit, harm, poison’ does not fit semantically, yet is guaranteed by the rhyme and alliteration, and therefore is left to stand here. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: læbaugr) may have been correct to surmise that this is a lost term for ‘land’ or a proper name, perhaps for an island. (b) Kock (NN §1125, followed by ÍF 27, ÍF 29 and Hkr 1991) suggested that is ‘poison’ here, and læbaugs ‘poison-ring’ a term for a serpent, hence perhaps a dragon-prow, whose eik ‘oak’ is a dragon-ship. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 27, following this, compares Bkrepp Magndr 4/2II vallbaugr ‘field-ring [SNAKE]’. He also cites Hfr ErfÓl 14/2 læsíkr ‘poison-whitefish [SNAKE]’, which refers to the ship Ormr inn langi, but this is structurally different and, as a substitute for a proper name, a special case. It is also problematic in itself, and interpreting as ‘land’ is among the possible solutions (see Note).


  1. Bibliography
  2. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  4. 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.
  5. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  6. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  8. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  9. Internal references
  10. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Bjǫrn krepphendi, Magnússdrápa 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 399.
  11. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 14’ 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. 420.


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