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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Sex 28II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 28’ 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, pp. 143-4.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonSexstefja
272829

Lét hræteina hveiti
hrynja gramr ór brynju;
vill, at vexti belli
valbygg, Haraldr, Yggjar.

Gramr lét {hveiti hræteina} hrynja ór brynju; Haraldr vill, at {{Yggjar val}bygg} belli vexti.

The king caused {wheat of carrion-twigs} [SPEARS] to pour out of his mail-coat; Haraldr wants {the barley {of the falcon of Yggr <= Óðinn>}} [(lit. ‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’) RAVEN > CORPSES] to display increase.

Mss: A(7r) (TGT)

Readings: [1] hræteina: ‘hrę t᷎na’ A

Editions: Skj AI, 376, Skj BI, 346, Skald I, 174, NN §2218B; SnE 1848-87, II, 164, 421, TGT 1884, 106, TGT 1927, 78, TGT 1998, 210-11.

Context: The st. illustrates the fifth type of metonymy, in which an object stands for its material, the example here being of hveiti ‘wheat’ representing korn ‘grain, corn’. 

Notes: [1] hveiti hræteina ‘the wheat of carrion-twigs [SPEARS]’: The base-word teinn ‘twig’ quite frequently forms kennings for weapons, e.g. with determinants referring, as here, to wounds, e.g. teinn unda Gísl Lv 1, and see LP: teinn. Terms for crops, in turn, frequently form kennings for ‘corpse’, qualified by a beast of battle word in the gen. case (see Note to l. 4 below). This cannot be the meaning here, for various reasons, and hveiti in the sense of showering grain may be an unparalleled variant on the pattern ‘shower, rain of the corpse or wounds’ referring to missiles or specifically spears (Skj B; Meissner 145; LP: hræteinn). If so, Haraldr is pictured either as an armour-clad fighting machine dispatching missiles, or as one shaking enemy missiles out of his armour. Björn Magnússon Ólsen and Finnur Jónsson in their eds of TGT (1884 and 1927 respectively) printed hrætrana ‘of the carrion-crane(s) [RAVEN(S)]’, which together with hveiti could produce a kenning for ‘corpse’, but this would not make sense in the st., and the abbreviation mark above <t> is not the usual abbreviation for <ar> but is better taken as <ei>. — [3] at vexti belli ‘to display increase’: Lit. ‘that (corpses) should display increase’. Bella ‘deal in, display’ takes the dat., here vexti (m. nom sg. vǫxtr) ‘increase, growth’. LP: 2. bella 1 translates ‘increase in strength’ (tiltage i kraft). Kock’s NN §2218 is mainly devoted to the semantics of the verb. — [4] Yggjar valbygg ‘the barley of the falcon of Yggr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘Yggr’s falcon-barley’) RAVEN > CORPSES]’: (a) This interpretation assumes an inverted kenning which fits the common pattern of corpse-kenning with a ‘beast of battle’ term as determinant (cf. the example in l. 4 of this st. and two further in st. 29; also Meissner 203-4). (b) Alternatively, one could read valbygg Yggjar ‘the slaughter-barley of Yggr <= Óðinn> [CORPSES]’ (so Skj B, tentatively, and Kock, NN §2218, who takes the kenning as a reference to blood). However, even though the barley of Óðinn, the battle-god and lord of the slain, might be taken as ‘corpse’, there are few or no parallels (Meissner 202 proposes one), and val- is strictly redundant (cf. hræ- ‘corpse’ in st. 30/4), though it would reinforce the idea of the slain, and could pun on the word valr adj. ‘Frankish, foreign’ (cf. Meissner 202) and possibly on valr ‘falcon’, which is common in raven-kennings (cf. interpretation (a)). In either interpretation, the n. nom. sg. bygg ‘barley’ must be assumed to be used collectively, hence the kenning referent is given as pl. ‘corpses’; and the ‘grain’ terms ǫrð ‘corn’ and barri ‘barley’ are used similarly in st. 29/1, 4.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. TGT 1884 = Björn Magnússon Ólsen, ed. 1884. Den tredje og fjærde grammatiske afhandling i Snorres Edda tilligemed de grammatiske afhandlingers prolog og to andre tillæg. SUGNL 12. Copenhagen: Knudtzon.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. TGT 1927 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1927b. Óláfr Þórðarson: Málhljóða- og málskrúðsrit. Grammatisk-retorisk afhandling. Det kgl. Danske Videnskabernes Selskab. Historisk-filologiske meddelelser 13, 2. Copenhagen: Høst.
  10. TGT 1998 = Krömmelbein, Thomas, ed. and trans. 1998. Dritte grammatische Abhandlung. Studia nordica 3. Oslo: Novus.
  11. Internal references
  12. Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘The Third Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  13. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Gísl Illugason, Lausavísa 1’ 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, pp. 430-1.
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