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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorm Lv 10I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 10’ 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. 823.

Þormóðr KolbrúnarskáldLausavísur
91011

Loftungu ‘Loftunga (‘Praise-tongue’)’

loftunga (noun f.): [tongue of praise, Loftunga

notes

[1] Loftungu ‘Loftunga (“Praise-tongue”)’: The skald Þórarinn loftunga (Þloft): see his Biography and work in this volume. Professional rivalry surfaces again in Lv 20b. 

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gaft ‘you gave’

gefa (verb): give

[1] gaft (‘gaftu’): ‘gafu’ Tóm

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þats ‘that’

1. sá (pron.; °gen. þess, dat. þeim, acc. þann; f. sú, gen. þeirrar, acc. þá; n. þat, dat. því; pl. m. þeir, f. þǽ---): that (one), those

notes

[2] látr, þats Fáfnir átti ‘the lair that Fáfnir owned [gold]’: The rel. clause functions like the determinant in a kenning, and the expression is semantically comparable to gold-kennings such as látr sváfnis ‘serpent’s lair’ (Grett Lv 31/7V (Gr 63)). The reference is to the dragon Fáfnir in the legend of Sigurðr, with resonances of broader superstitions about gold-hoards guarded by dragons; for Fáfnir see Þorf Lv 1 and Note to [All] ad loc.

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Fáfnir ‘Fáfnir’

Fáfnir (noun m.): Fáfnir

[2] Fáfnir: ‘faðneri’ DG8

notes

[2] látr, þats Fáfnir átti ‘the lair that Fáfnir owned [gold]’: The rel. clause functions like the determinant in a kenning, and the expression is semantically comparable to gold-kennings such as látr sváfnis ‘serpent’s lair’ (Grett Lv 31/7V (Gr 63)). The reference is to the dragon Fáfnir in the legend of Sigurðr, with resonances of broader superstitions about gold-hoards guarded by dragons; for Fáfnir see Þorf Lv 1 and Note to [All] ad loc.

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átti ‘owned’

2. eiga (verb; °á/eigr (præs. pl. 3. pers. eigu/eiga); átti, áttu; átt): own, have

[2] átti: ‘atv’ Tóm

notes

[2] látr, þats Fáfnir átti ‘the lair that Fáfnir owned [gold]’: The rel. clause functions like the determinant in a kenning, and the expression is semantically comparable to gold-kennings such as látr sváfnis ‘serpent’s lair’ (Grett Lv 31/7V (Gr 63)). The reference is to the dragon Fáfnir in the legend of Sigurðr, with resonances of broader superstitions about gold-hoards guarded by dragons; for Fáfnir see Þorf Lv 1 and Note to [All] ad loc.

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inn ‘’

2. inn (art.): the

notes

[3] inn mæri ‘famous one’: Finnur Jónsson in Skj B takes the ‘enn’ of most of the mss not as the def. art. inn but as the adv. enn ‘still, further’. He emends mæri to mœrar ‘of land’ and analyses this as part of the gold-kenning, which is necessary in his construal since he removes merkr ‘of the forest’ from the kenning: see next Note. However, the emendation is unnecessary, it yields a metrically doubtful line, and as Kock (NN §710A) points out, Þormóðr never uses a form of þú without an appositive vocative phrase. 

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mæri ‘famous one’

2. mærr (adj.): famous

[3] mæri: so all others, ‘[…]æri’ NRA52

notes

[3] inn mæri ‘famous one’: Finnur Jónsson in Skj B takes the ‘enn’ of most of the mss not as the def. art. inn but as the adv. enn ‘still, further’. He emends mæri to mœrar ‘of land’ and analyses this as part of the gold-kenning, which is necessary in his construal since he removes merkr ‘of the forest’ from the kenning: see next Note. However, the emendation is unnecessary, it yields a metrically doubtful line, and as Kock (NN §710A) points out, Þormóðr never uses a form of þú without an appositive vocative phrase. 

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merkr ‘of the forest’

2. mǫrk (noun f.; °merkr; merkr): forest

kennings

merkr fránǫluns.
‘of the forest of the flashing fish. ’
   = GOLD

the flashing fish. → SERPENT
the forest of the SERPENT → GOLD

notes

[4] merkr ‘of the forest’: This is tantamount to ‘of the land’, forming a stereotypical gold-kenning (see Notes to l. 2 and l. 4 fránǫluns). Finnur Jónsson (LP: 2. mǫrk) analyses merkr as gen. sg. of mǫrk ‘unit of weight’ (so also Finnur Jónsson 1932-3, pointing out that the following prose remarks that the king had promised the skald a ‘mark’ of gold), though in LP: fránǫlunn he takes merkr f. as slange ‘snake, serpent’, and warns that the gen. sg. of mǫrk ‘forest’ appears always to be markar rather than merkr. The latter is not the general view, however (see NN §710B, with references).

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frán ‘of the flashing’

2. fránn (adj.): bright, shining < fránǫlunn (noun m.)

kennings

merkr fránǫluns.
‘of the forest of the flashing fish. ’
   = GOLD

the flashing fish. → SERPENT
the forest of the SERPENT → GOLD

notes

[4] fránǫluns ‘of the flashing fish [SERPENT]’: Ǫlunn does not occur in prose, and its meaning is uncertain, but its occurrence as a fish-heiti in Þul Fiska 1/7III and in certain types of kenning point to a fish; some sources take it as mackerel (see LP: ǫlunn). Fránǫlunn is not a standard kenning for ‘serpent’, since the first element is adjectival and decorative, whereas one would expect a nominal determinant referring to land, hence ‘fish of the land’. It is as though merkr ‘of the forest/land’ is needed both for this function (to make a fish into a serpent) and to provide the base-word for the gold-kenning, though such a dual role is exceptional. Kock (Skald; NN §710C) would emend to frón- ‘land’, despite the disruption to the hending.

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frán ‘of the flashing’

2. fránn (adj.): bright, shining < fránǫlunn (noun m.)

kennings

merkr fránǫluns.
‘of the forest of the flashing fish. ’
   = GOLD

the flashing fish. → SERPENT
the forest of the SERPENT → GOLD

notes

[4] fránǫluns ‘of the flashing fish [SERPENT]’: Ǫlunn does not occur in prose, and its meaning is uncertain, but its occurrence as a fish-heiti in Þul Fiska 1/7III and in certain types of kenning point to a fish; some sources take it as mackerel (see LP: ǫlunn). Fránǫlunn is not a standard kenning for ‘serpent’, since the first element is adjectival and decorative, whereas one would expect a nominal determinant referring to land, hence ‘fish of the land’. It is as though merkr ‘of the forest/land’ is needed both for this function (to make a fish into a serpent) and to provide the base-word for the gold-kenning, though such a dual role is exceptional. Kock (Skald; NN §710C) would emend to frón- ‘land’, despite the disruption to the hending.

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ǫluns ‘fish’

ǫlunn (noun m.): [fish] < fránǫlunn (noun m.)

[4] ‑ǫluns: Jǫkuls Tóm

kennings

merkr fránǫluns.
‘of the forest of the flashing fish. ’
   = GOLD

the flashing fish. → SERPENT
the forest of the SERPENT → GOLD

notes

[4] fránǫluns ‘of the flashing fish [SERPENT]’: Ǫlunn does not occur in prose, and its meaning is uncertain, but its occurrence as a fish-heiti in Þul Fiska 1/7III and in certain types of kenning point to a fish; some sources take it as mackerel (see LP: ǫlunn). Fránǫlunn is not a standard kenning for ‘serpent’, since the first element is adjectival and decorative, whereas one would expect a nominal determinant referring to land, hence ‘fish of the land’. It is as though merkr ‘of the forest/land’ is needed both for this function (to make a fish into a serpent) and to provide the base-word for the gold-kenning, though such a dual role is exceptional. Kock (Skald; NN §710C) would emend to frón- ‘land’, despite the disruption to the hending.

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ǫluns ‘fish’

ǫlunn (noun m.): [fish] < fránǫlunn (noun m.)

[4] ‑ǫluns: Jǫkuls Tóm

kennings

merkr fránǫluns.
‘of the forest of the flashing fish. ’
   = GOLD

the flashing fish. → SERPENT
the forest of the SERPENT → GOLD

notes

[4] fránǫluns ‘of the flashing fish [SERPENT]’: Ǫlunn does not occur in prose, and its meaning is uncertain, but its occurrence as a fish-heiti in Þul Fiska 1/7III and in certain types of kenning point to a fish; some sources take it as mackerel (see LP: ǫlunn). Fránǫlunn is not a standard kenning for ‘serpent’, since the first element is adjectival and decorative, whereas one would expect a nominal determinant referring to land, hence ‘fish of the land’. It is as though merkr ‘of the forest/land’ is needed both for this function (to make a fish into a serpent) and to provide the base-word for the gold-kenning, though such a dual role is exceptional. Kock (Skald; NN §710C) would emend to frón- ‘land’, despite the disruption to the hending.

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varga ‘of outlaws’

vargr (noun m.; °dat. -i; -ar): wolf

kennings

víðlendr myrðir varga,
‘broad-landed destroyer of outlaws, ’
   = RULER = Knútr

broad-landed destroyer of outlaws, → RULER = Knútr
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myrðir ‘destroyer’

myrðir (noun m.): killer

[5] myrðir: so DG8, Flat, ‘mvrþir’ NRA52, myndir Tóm

kennings

víðlendr myrðir varga,
‘broad-landed destroyer of outlaws, ’
   = RULER = Knútr

broad-landed destroyer of outlaws, → RULER = Knútr
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víð ‘broad’

víðr (adj.): far < víðlendr (adj.): widely-landed

kennings

víðlendr myrðir varga,
‘broad-landed destroyer of outlaws, ’
   = RULER = Knútr

broad-landed destroyer of outlaws, → RULER = Knútr
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lendr ‘landed’

lendr (adj.): landed < víðlendr (adj.): widely-landed

kennings

víðlendr myrðir varga,
‘broad-landed destroyer of outlaws, ’
   = RULER = Knútr

broad-landed destroyer of outlaws, → RULER = Knútr
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síðan ‘afterwards’

síðan (adv.): later, then

[6] síðan: so all others, ‘[…]an’ NRA52

notes

[6] síðan ‘afterwards’: For other examples of clausal elements preceding the conj. (here eðr ‘or’) that introduces the clause in Þormóðr’s poetry, see Lv 6/5V, Þorgdr 1/6V (Fbr 2), 12/3V (Fbr 15) and 14/6V (Fbr 17). Prior eds have generally construed this word with emk verðr ‘I am worthy’ and assumed the sense ‘hereafter’.

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eða ‘or’

eða (conj.): or

[7] eða: enn Tóm

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heldr ‘instead’

heldr (adv.): rather

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‘the sea’

sjór (noun m.): sea

[7] sæ (‘sió’): sjá Flat, sik Tóm

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sjaldan ‘seldom’

sjaldan (adv.): seldom

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slíks ‘of the same’

2. slíkr (adj.): such

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skalk ‘I shall’

skulu (verb): shall, should, must

[8] skalk (‘scal ek’): skal Tóm

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vætta ‘hope’

vætta (verb): expect

notes

[8] vætta ‘hope’: Or ‘expect’ or ‘be expected’. Skj B reads vétta on the ground that æ is not known to rhyme with é before the end of the Middle Ages (Finnur Jónsson 1932-3). Yet the correct explanation is most likely that the root vowels of the two forms were shortened before the following geminate consonant, and when [æ:] and [e:] were shortened, they both produced [e] (ANG §127.6 and Anm. 2). Long vowels were later reintroduced analogically.

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

In all texts, at their parting in Denmark, Þormóðr reminds King Knútr inn ríki (Cnut the Great) of the gifts due him in reward for his service to the king. The prose context in NRA52 is defective but appears to be the same.

For the sequel, see Lv 11 and Context, and for similar complaints, see Sigv Vestv 5 and its Context and ESk Lv 7II and its Introduction. — [7, 8] eða heldr skalk sjaldan ... vætta of sæ ‘or instead I shall seldom ... hope [to come] over the sea’: (a) The sense may be ‘I shall not return’. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; Finnur Jónsson 1932-3), followed by Skald, interprets the final intercalary as a question, ‘Or shall I never expect anything on the sea?’. (c) Gaertner (1907, 329), with different apportionment of the intercalary and main clauses, and emending síðan to síðarr ‘later’, also perceives a question, ‘or shall I expect my due from you later?’. (d) Another possibility is ‘or else I shall rather seldom hope for [anything here] across the sea’, i.e. ‘I shall give up hope of generosity from you’. (e) Björn K. Þórólfsson (ÍF 6, and similarly ÍS) takes the intercalary clause to mean ‘or I shall instead put to sea and hope for nothing’. The saga writer probably understood the meaning to be something like the last mentioned or the one offered here, since this would explain why he has Þormóðr deliver the poem shortly before his departure.

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