Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Yt 11I/3 — vǫrðr ‘guardian’

Ok varð hinn,
es Ôlfr of vá,
vǫrðr véstalls
of veginn liggja,
es dǫglingr
dreyrgan mæki
á Yngva rauð.
Vasa þat bært,
at Bera skyldi
vígs of hvetja,
þás brœðr tveir
at bǫnum urðusk
of afbrýði.

Ok hinn vǫrðr véstalls, es Ôlfr of vá, varð liggja of veginn, es ǫfundgjarn dǫglingr rauð dreyrgan mæki á Yngva. Þat vasa bært, at Bera skyldi of hvetja valsœfendr vígs, þás tveir brœðr óþurfendr urðusk at bǫnum of afbrýði.

And that guardian of the altar of the sanctuary [KING], whom Álfr slew, had to lie slain when the envy-ridden ruler reddened the bloody sword upon Yngvi. It was not right that Bera had to incite the slaughterers of the slain [WARRIORS] to fight when the two brothers needlessly became each other’s slayers out of jealousy.


[1, 3] hinn vǫrðr véstalls ‘that guardian of the altar of the sanctuary [KING]’: In various skaldic poems, rulers are praised or blamed for protecting or destroying sanctuaries (e.g. Eyv Hák 18, Hfr Óldr 1), though the relationship of rulers to the priesthood and to sanctuaries in heathen times remains obscure (Sundqvist 2002, 176-213). Parallels to vǫrðr véstalls are found in valdr vés ‘owner of the sanctuary’ (KormǪ Sigdr 6/5III) and in wiawari ‘protector of the sanctuary’ in Swedish runic inscriptions (Rök Ög 136, Sparlösa Vg 119) (see Baetke 1964, 62; Sundqvist 2002, 198). Vǫrðr véstalls is construed in Hkr 1893-1901, IV in apposition to Ǭlfr, the subject of the subordinate clause, since Álfr is portrayed in Yng as always remaining at home. However, in this edn (as in FF §50, ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991) it is assigned to hinn ‘that’ in the main clause, referring to Yngvi, in order to preserve the integrity of the lines characteristic of Yt (see the Introduction) and because kennings rarely function as appositives.




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