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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Halli XI Fl 1II/3 — sparn ‘kicked against’

Halli XI Fl 1II

Norðr lykr gramr, sás gerðir
grund, frá Eyrarsundi
— hrafngœlir sparn hæli
hǫfn — langskipa stǫfnum.
Rísta golli glæstir
gjalfr, en hlýður skjalfa,
hvasst und her fyr vestan
Hallandi framm brandar.

Gramr, sás gerðir grund, lykr stǫfnum langskipa norðr frá Eyrarsundi; hrafngœlir sparn hǫfn hæli. Brandar, glæstir golli, rísta gjalfr hvasst framm und her fyr vestan Hallandi, en hlýður skjalfa.

The king, who surrounds his territory, locks up [the land] with the stems of the longships north of Øresund; the raven-gladdener [WARRIOR] kicked against the harbour with his keel. The stems, encrusted with gold, cut the ocean-surge keenly forwards under the army to the west of Halland, and the wash-strakes tremble.

readings

[3] sparn: hátt yfir H, Hr

notes

[3-4] hrafngœlir sparn hǫfn hæli ‘the raven-gladdener [WARRIOR] kicked against the harbour with his keel’: Kock (NN §3092) and Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 28, 159) explain hæli as a reference to part of the keel, the kjalarhæll ‘keel-heel’, rejecting the explanation in Skj B, where langskipa ‘of the longships’ (l. 4) is taken to govern stǫfnum ‘with the stems’ (l. 4). It is also possible, however, that the gen. pl. noun was interpreted as apo koinou, i.e. as qualifying both the preceding and the following noun. Also at play is a metaphor from horsemanship. The exchange of diction between sea and land transportation seen here is bolder than the norm and evidently led to confusion in H-Hr, where the entire l. hrafngœlir sparn hæli ‘the raven-gladdener kicked with his keel’ is replaced by a conventional ‘raven’ topos, hrafn (‘har’ H) gelr hátt yfir heila ‘the raven screams loudly over [men’s] heads’.

grammar

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