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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Hhárf Snædr 1I

[1-4]: These difficult lines have been the subject of a series of emendations, outlined here, but none is wholly persuasive, and the interpretation shown above is a tentative attempt to construe the ms. text as it stands. (a) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) offers the following text: Hneggi berk ok æ ugg | ótta (hlýði) mér (drótt); | dána vekka (dróttins) mey | (drauga á kerlaug) ‘I constantly carry in my heart dread and fear; may people listen to my poem; I cannot rouse the dead woman’. The kenning for ‘poem/poetry’ is tentatively explained as kerlaug dróttins drauga ‘vessel-liquid (lit. vessel-washing) of Óðinn’ in LP: kerlaug. Finnur’s principal conjectures, along with the objections raised against them by subsequent commentators, are the following. Ok ‘and’ has been added in l. 1. In l. 2 the 3rd pers. pl. pres. subj. hlýði ‘let … hear’ is separated syntactically from mér ‘me’ (NN §132; Reichardt 1928, 158). In l. 3 the noun dróttins ‘lord’ is arrived at by emendation of ms. dular/dulat (see Note below) and separated syntactically from mey ‘maiden’ so as to yield a combination dróttins drauga ‘of the lord of the undead’, not paralleled in Óðinn-kennings (Meissner 252-3; Reichardt 1928, 158-9); dróttins is also unmetrical. A further emendation in l. 3 is vekka, from vek ek, with addition of the negative enclitic particle (NN §132). (b) Kock retains Finnur’s ok in l. 1 so as to arrive at ok ugg ótta, i. e. ugg ok ótta ‘fear and terror’ (NN §132, cf. §§1508C, 1827D). Restoring vekk ‘I awake’ and interpreting dular as an adverbial gen. meaning ‘out of slumber, torpor’, Kock (NN §132) proposes that the speaker represents himself as waking the dead maiden. He further emends drauga to dverga ‘of dwarfs’ so as to arrive at a more expected kenning for ‘poem’ (NN §132; subsequently rescinded in NN §§2209, 2985B since it fails to provide hending). (c) Bjarni Einarsson (1961, 34-5) tentatively proposes Ber ek æ ugg (ok?) ótta hneggi ‘I always bear fear (and?) terror in the heart’, with the implication that ok might be unnecessary, but such an asyndeton (omission of an explicit conj.) would be hard to parallel. (d) Further emendations are suggested by Einar Ólafur Sveinsson (1975, 174-8; cf. Einar Ólafur Sveinsson 1976, 148) and Ólafur Halldórsson (1969b and 1990).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Bjarni Einarsson. 1961. Skáldasögur: Um uppruna og eðli ástaskáldasagnanna fornu. Reykjavík: Bókaútgáfa Menningarsjóðs.
  7. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1928. Studien zu den Skalden des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Palaestra 159. Leipzig: Mayer & Müller.
  8. Einar Ólafur Sveinsson. 1975. Löng er för: Þrír þættir um írskar og íslenzkar sögur og kvæði. Studia Islandica 34. Reykjavík: Bókaútgáfa Menningarsjóðs.
  9. Einar Ólafur Sveinsson. 1976. ‘An Old Irish Verse Form Wandering in the North’. In Almqvist et al. 1976, 141-52.
  10. Ólafur Halldórsson. 1969b. ‘Snjófríðardrápa’. In Jakob Benediktsson 1969, 147-59. Rpt. with additions in Ólafur Halldórsson 1990.


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