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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Sól 57VII/6 — moluðu ‘were crushing’

Vindr þagði;        vötn stöðvaði;
        þá heyrða ek grimligan gný;
sínum mönnum        svipvísar konur
        moluðu mold til matar.

Vindr þagði; vötn stöðvaði; þá heyrða ek grimligan gný; svipvísar konur moluðu mold til matar mönnum sínum.

The wind fell silent; the waters stood still; then I heard a terrible din; treacherous women were crushing earth into food for their men.

readings

[6] moluðu: ‘moto’ 10575ˣ, mólu 2797ˣ

notes

[6] moluðu ‘they were crushing’: The reading of the majority of mss, 3rd pers. pret. pl. of mola (weak verb) ‘to crush, break into small pieces’. 2797ˣ has mólu, 3rd pers. pret, pl. of mala (strong verb, class 6) ‘to grind’, and this probable emendation (reportedly first suggested by Jón Olafsson of Grunnavík – so Bugge and Skj A) has been adopted by almost all eds. It reduces the syllable count of the l., even though it still has too many alliterating staves. — [6] moluðu mold til matar ‘they were crushing earth into food’: Cf. Grott where the giantesses Fenja and Menja are condemned to grind out gold from a magic mill. Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 88-9) notes that earth does not need grinding (though it may need crushing!), and that this is therefore an unending task. A similar punishment appears in the ‘Vision of the Monk of Wenlock’ (Tangl 1916, 13).

grammar

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