Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ólhelg Lv 9I/8 — nu ‘of the headdress’

Ár stóð eik in dýra
jarladóms með blómi
harðla grœn, sem Hǫrðar
hvert misseri vissu.
Nú hefr bekkjar tré bliknat
brátt Mardallar gráti
(lind hefr) laufi bundit
(nu jǫrð í Gǫrðum).

Ár stóð in dýra eik jarladóms harðla grœn með blómi, sem Hǫrðar vissu hvert misseri. Nú hefr tré bekkjar, bundit laufi, bliknat brátt gráti Mardallar; lind nu hefr jǫrð í Gǫrðum.

Formerly the precious oak of the jarldom [WOMAN] stood intensely green with blossom, as the Hǫrðar knew each season. Now the tree of the bench [WOMAN], wreathed with foliage, has grown pale fast with the weeping of Mardǫll <= Freyja> [GOLD]; the linden-tree of the headdress [WOMAN] has land in Russia.


[8] nu jǫrð: ‘limuord’ Flat


[7, 8] lind línu hefr jǫrð í Gǫrðum ‘the linden-tree of the headband [WOMAN] has land in Russia’: The words línu jǫrð ‘of the headband ... land’ are an adaptation of Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s explanation of ms. ‘limuord’ (LP (1860): lína). (a) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B and Kock in Skald both follow Sveinbjörn in combining the two words to produce ‘land of the linen headdress’, a kenning for ‘head’. Finnur then combines bekkjar ‘bench’ in l. 5 with lind ‘linden-tree’ in l. 7 to give a woman-kenning, leaving tré ‘tree’ as a half-kenning or uncorrected metaphor matching his interpretation of eik ‘oak’ in l. 1. (b) The present edn follows Kock (NN §610) in letting simplicity of word order dictate that bekkjar tré, as adjacent words, should be construed together as a woman-kenning. The noun lind is treated by Kock as a further uncorrected metaphor, but línu is a suitable determinant: words for ‘headdress’ or ‘veil’ are common in woman-kennings (Meissner 416). (c) Accepting this, Frank (1978, 174-6) varies the emendation of ms. ‘limuord’ to obtain línu vǫrðr and interprets ll. 7-8 lind hefr laufi bundit | línu vǫrðr í Gǫrðum ‘the ruler in Russia has bound the linden of the linen headdress [WOMAN] with [gold] leaf’.




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