Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Glúmr Gráf 4I/4 — slǫg ‘strikers’

Austrlǫndum fórsk undir
allvaldr, sás gaf skǫldum
— hann fekk gagn at gunni —
gunnhǫrga slǫg mǫrgum.
Slíðrtungur lét syngva
sverðleiks reginn — ferðir
sendi gramr at grundu
gollvarpaða* — snarpar.

Allvaldr, sás gaf mǫrgum skǫldum slǫg gunnhǫrga, fórsk undir austrlǫndum; hann fekk gagn at gunni. Reginn sverðleiks lét snarpar slíðrtungur syngva; gramr sendi ferðir gollvarpaða* at grundu.

The mighty ruler, who gave many poets strikers of battle-temples [SHIELDS > WEAPONS], subdued eastern lands; he gained success in war. The god of sword-play [BATTLE > WARRIOR] made keen scabbard-tongues [SWORDS] sing; the prince sent troops of gold-throwers [GENEROUS MEN] to the ground.


[4] slǫg: lǫg J1ˣ, J2ˣ, ‘skug’ Bb


[2, 4] gaf mǫrgum skǫldum slǫg gunnhǫrga ‘gave many poets strikers of battle-temples [SHIELDS > WEAPONS]’: Weapons were among the conventional rewards given to poets for their poetry; see, e.g., Hfr Lv 11V (Hallfr 14), celebrating the gift of a sword from Óláfr Tryggvason. The kenning is unusual. Gunnhǫrg(a) ‘battle-temples’ belongs to a pattern well attested among shield-kennings (Meissner 170-1), but slǫg ‘strikers’ is the pl. of slag n., which is itself a heiti for a weapon, so that the tvíkent kenning ‘strikers of battle-temples’ assumed here appears somewhat overdetermined. The translation here, however, follows Reichardt’s suggestion (1928, 178) that slǫg gunnhǫrga functions effectively as a kenning, exploiting the relation of slǫg with slá ‘to strike’ to mean ‘weapons which strike shields’. (b) Kock (NN §256) takes gunnhǫrga ‘shields’ as acc. pl. rather than gen. pl., and hence a joint object, with slǫg ‘swords’, of gaf ‘gave’, in an unusual use of asyndetic parataxis (i.e. omission of a conj.). This is questioned by Reichardt (1928, 178). (c) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B takes slǫg ‘weapons’ as the object of fórsk undir ‘risked his life against’ (see Note to l. 1 fórsk undir), and construes gunnhǫrga alone as a shield-kenning.




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