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Re: [norse_course] Eyrbyggja Saga 28 part 4 -- Rob's Translation

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  • Brian M. Scott
    I’m just going to translate the two vísur. I’m giving them in an older orthography. Halli and Læknir are flattering Ásdís with the kind of difficult
    Message 1 of 2 , May 24, 2013
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      I’m just going to translate the two vísur. I’m giving them
      in an older orthography.

      Halli and Læknir are flattering Ásdís with the kind of
      difficult verse usually used to praise a ruler or the like.

      Hvert hefr, Gerðr, of gǫrva,
      gangfǫgr liðar hanga
      (ljúg vætr at mér) leygjar,
      línbunden, fǫr þína?
      þvít í vetr, hin vitra
      {vangs}, sákak þik ganga,
      {hirðidís}, frá húsi,
      {húns}, skrautligar búna.

      Whither have you made, Gerð
      fair-gaited of joint’s hanging
      (lie not to me) fire,
      linen-wrapped, your journey?
      for this winter, {the wise}
      {field’s}, I did not see you go,
      {guardian maid}, from (the) house,
      {of the game piece}, more richly attired.

      The particle <of> before the verb contributes little or
      nothing to the sense and can be ignored in translation.
      <Gǫrva> is the past participle of <gǫra> ~ <gera>. <Liðar>
      is the gen. sing. of <liðr> 'a joint', and <leygjar> is the
      gen. sing. of <leygr> 'a fire, a flame' (CV). <Hanga> is
      hanging there in limbo; various sources agree that we’re
      dealing with a compound, <hangaleygr> 'a hanging fire or
      flame', that’s been artificially split here by the
      admonition <ljúg vætr at mér>. <Gerðr> is the name of a
      goddess, Frey’s wife, and should be understood simply as
      'goddess'. The whole expression <Gerðr liðar hangaleygjar>
      'goddess of joint’s hanging fire' is a kenning for 'woman':
      the joint in question is the arm, its hanging fire is gold
      rings, and the goddess of gold rings is a woman. Halli is
      using the kenning, further modified by <gangfǫgr>
      'fair-gaited', to address Ásdís. He also calls her
      'linen-wrapped'; in view of Læknir’s description in the next
      vísa, I suspect that this refers to her headdress.

      <Vætr> is 'nothing, nought', but <lie> isn’t transitive, so
      English pretty much requires 'not'.

      The second four lines are harder, because the bits in curly
      braces belong together as another description of Ásdís: she
      is ‘the wise guardian-maid of the field of the game piece =
      the wise guardian-maid of the gaming board = woman’.
      <Hirðidís> 'guardian maid' is a compound, <hirði-dís>; both
      elements are in CV. <Húns> is the gen. sing. of <húnn> 'a
      knob, a game piece' (CV).

      <Sákat> is <sá-ek-at> 'I did not see'. <Skrautligar> is the
      comparative of the adverb <skrautliga>, not a form of the
      adjective <skrautligr>. Although <í vetr> can be 'in
      winter', it’s also 'this winter', which is the intended
      sense here.

      Whither have you made, Gerð
      fair-gaited of joint’s hanging
      (lie nought to me) fire,
      linen-wrapped, your journey?
      for this winter, {the wise}
      {field’s}, I did not see you go,
      {guardian maid}, from (the) house,
      {of the game piece}, more richly attired.

      Whither have you made your journey, fair-gaited,
      linen-wrapped Gerð of the joint’s hanging fire? Don’t lie
      to me. For this winter I have not seen you go more richly
      attired from the house, wise guardian maid of the field of
      the game piece.

      Where are you going, fair-gaited, linen-wrapped woman?
      Don’t lie to me. For this winter, woman, I have not seen
      you go more richly dressed from home.


      Sólgrund Siggjar linda
      sjaldan hefr of faldet
      jafnhǭtt; øglis stéttar
      elds nú ’s skart á þellu;
      hoddgrund, hvat býr undir,
      Hlín, oflæti þínu,
      hýrmælt, hóti fleira
      hvítings, en vér lítum?

      Sun-field of Sigg’s belts,
      seldom have you hooded
      so high; on hawk’s support’s
      fire’s young pine is now finery;
      treasure-field, what lies hidden under
      {Hlín} your pride,
      {sweet-spoken} more
      {of [the] (white) drinking-horn} than we see?

      Sigg is a small island off the west coast of Norway; it has
      an entry in CV, though only identifying it as an island.
      ‘Sigg’s belts’ is to be understood as ‘island’s belts’, a
      kenning for the sea. The sea’s sun is gold, and its field
      is a wearer of gold, i.e., a woman: <sólgrund Siggjar linda>
      is one complex kenning for 'woman'. ‘Hooded so high’
      follows the Old Norse pretty literally; ‘worn so tall a
      headdress’ is the intended sense. Here again the particle
      <of> before the verb contributes little or nothing to the
      sense.

      Rob, you’ll find <öglir> in CV as a poetic term for a kind
      of hawk. The hawk’s support is the hand, and its fire is of
      course gold. <Þellu> is the oblique case of <þella> 'a
      young pine' (CV), common in kennings for 'woman'; here we
      have ‘hawk’s support’s fire’s young pine = hand’s fire’s
      young pine = gold’s young pine = woman’. The ‘on’ in the
      third line of my translation represents the <á> in the
      fourth line of the Old Norse: I couldn’t find any way to
      keep it in its proper place and make the syntax work in
      English. The actual subject of this clause is <skart>
      'finery': <nú er skart á øglis stéttar elds þellu> 'now is
      finery on ...'.

      Grace, <hoddgrund> is in CV s.v. <hodd> as a kenning for
      'woman'; Læknir is using it as a term of address to Ásdís.
      The bits that I enclosed in curly braces are also addressing
      her. Hlín is a goddess, and <Hlín> is to be interpreted
      simply as 'goddess'; ‘goddess of the drinking-horn’ is
      another kenning for 'woman', and the whole is ‘sweet-spoken
      woman’. Zoëga doesn’t actually have <búa undir e-u> 'to be
      hidden under something', though some of his glosses at <búa
      undir> at least suggest this sort of sense; in any case it’s
      a natural extension of the rather literal 'dwell under'.

      <Hóti meiri> is 'a bit more' or perhaps 'rather more', but
      <hóti> serves no real purpose in English, so I translated
      the phrase simply as 'more'. CV mentions that <hvítingr> is
      a name for a drinking-horn, and in this context that’s the
      only meaning that makes sense; the word is literally just
      '(the) white' and was applied to several white things.

      Sun-field of Sigg’s belts,
      seldom have you hooded
      so high; on hawk’s support’s
      fire’s young pine is now finery;
      treasure-field, what lies hidden under
      {Hlín} your pride,
      {sweet-spoken} more
      {of [the] (white) drinking-horn} than we see?

      Sun-field of Sigg’s belts, seldom have you worn so tall a
      headdress; now finery is on the young pine of the hawk’s
      support’s fire; treasure-field, what more than we see lies
      hidden under your pride, sweet-spoken Hlín of the (white)
      drinking-horn?

      Woman, seldom have you worn so tall a headdress; now the
      woman wears finery; woman, what more than we see lies
      hidden under your pride, sweet-spoken woman?

      Oof! I still find it amazing that people could compose
      those things, never mind actually understand them when they
      were recited! I suspect that this bit of the saga is
      intended to be humorous: savage berserks flattering farm
      girl as if they were court poets and she a queen.

      Brian
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