Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þloft Tøgdr 6I/7 — døkksali ‘the dark halls’

Þá gaf sínum
snjallr gǫrvallan
Nóreg nefa
njótr veg-Jóta.
Þá gaf sínum
— segik þat — megi
dals døkksali
Danmǫrk svana.

Þá gaf snjallr njótr veg-Jóta nefa sínum gǫrvallan Nóreg. Þá gaf megi sínum Danmǫrk, døkksali dals svana; segik þat.

Then the bold enjoyer of the glory-Jótar [DANISH KING = Knútr] gave his nephew the whole of Norway. Then he gave his son Denmark, the dark halls of the dale of swans [SEA]; I declare it.


[7] døkksali: ‘d[…]cksalar’ , døkksalar Holm2, 68, 325XI 2 g, djúpliga J2ˣ, 61, ‘do᷎ckualar’ Bæb, ‘døggsala’ Holm4, djúpsala 325V, djúps sala 325VII, Tóm, DG8, djúpsvala Flat


[7, 8] døkksali dals svana ‘the dark halls of the dale of swans [SEA]’: As can be seen from the Readings, scribes made various attempts to make sense of this difficult phrase. (a) The solution adopted here is based on that of Kock (NN §1792; Skald), who assumes (reasonably) that njótr ‘enjoyer’ (l. 4) is the subject of gaf ‘gave’ in both ll. 1 and 5, and suggests emendation to acc. pl. sali rather than the gen. sg. ‑ar or gen. pl. ‑a implied by the mss. This gives døkksali dals svana ‘dark halls of the dale of swans’, where dalr svana is a satisfactory kenning for ‘sea’, and the phrase is thus in apposition with Danmǫrk, and according to Kock offers a description of the country’s ‘forest-covered islands in the sea’ (skogbevuxna öarna i havet). For a similarly unusual description of the land, see Gsind Hákdr 3/3. A possible variation on this analysis would be to prefer the reading in djúp- rather than døkk-, as djúpr ‘deep’ is used in Akv 14/2 (NK 242), as an adj. for an aristocratic residence. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; LP: døkksalr) emends this cpd to dagvélir, in which the first element is ‘day, sun’ and the second ‘enticer, destroyer’, hence ‘destroyer of the sun of the dale of swans [SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Knútr]’; this nom. case kenning can then act as the subject of the verb gaf. (c) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 27, striving to avoid emendation, suggests an ingenious solution which, however, he readily admits is a ‘desperate interpretation’ (örþrifaskýring).



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