Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 1I/2 — bála ‘of the pyres’

Tolf frák tekna elfar
tálaust viðu bála;
olli Ôleifr falli
eirsamr konungr þeira.
Svía tyggja leitk seggi
sóknstríðs (firum) ríða
(bǫl vas brátt) til Heljar
(búit mest) Sigars hesti.

Frák tálaust tolf viðu bála elfar tekna; Ôleifr, eirsamr konungr, olli falli þeira. Leitk seggi sóknstríðs tyggja Svía ríða hesti Sigars til Heljar; mest bǫl vas brátt búit firum.

I heard without equivocation that twelve trees of the pyres of the river [GOLD > MEN] were captured; Óláfr, the merciful king, caused their death. I saw the men of the battle-hard king of the Swedes [= Óláfr sœnski] ride the horse of Sigarr <legendary king> [GALLOWS] to Hel; the greatest harm was quickly prepared for the men.


[1, 2] bála elfar ‘of the pyres of the river [GOLD]’: Bál ‘pyre’ as the base-word in gold-kennings is not normally pl. (Meissner 229-30, though cf. Kálf Kátr 11/6VII), but Meissner notes (Meissner 226) that the pl. can be used in gold-kennings, not only for poetic emphasis but also to suggest individual items of gold. Bála may, alternatively or additionally, have been preferred for its disyllabic form.



case: gen.
number: pl.


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