ŽÓRSDRĮPA 8:5-8

Codex RegiusCodex TrajectinusCodex WormianusEmended & Modernized
8 : 5-8 VariantsVariants 
žvrži hra/N at herži hronnŽurši hrönn at herši
ha/šrs rvNkyqva na/žar-quykua-kvikahaušrs rśmbyggva naušar,
iaržar skafls af afli  jaršar skafls af afli,
ass hretvišri blasiN.  įss, hretvišri blįsin.

There is only one sentence here:

Hrönn jaršar skafls, hretvišri blįsin, žurši af afli aš herši naušar rśmbyggva haušrs įss, i.e. "the wave of the earth's snow-dune [ocean], blown by the tempest, rushed forcefully at the increaser of the distress of the room-dwellers of the land of the ridge [Žórr]".

It must be noted that this reading is based on Finnur Jónsson's basically sound emendation rśmbyggva. In the mss. rśm and runn might have been identical, and kyqva and bygva extremely similar.

Hrönn jaršar skafls, hretvišri blįsin ] is usually taken to mean "mountain-river". Hrönn basically means "wave", and could thus (especially in the plural hrannir) poetically mean "ocean". It is also the name of one of the mythic rivers of Grķmnismįl 27-29, among which we also find Slķšr (see previous half-stanza), Svöl "the cold", Hrķš "snow-storm". [I would suggest that many of these river-names should be read as synonyms for the great ocean, particularly the northernmost portion, the Arctic Ocean, which separates Midgard from Jötunheim.] Apart from this "river"-name, I can find no examples, in kennings, of hrönn being used in the meaning "river" - it seems to be consistently used to mean "ocean-wave", and in the plural "ocean". Jaršar skafl is, by the same interpreters, taken to be a kenning for "mountain", who simply read skafl as "dune", and skafl jaršar "earth-dune" as "mountain"; and thus hrönn jaršar skafls as "mountain-river". I find this difficult to accept. Skafl means "snow-drift, snow-dune, mass of snow". The poem is riddled with various expressions and kennings, related to ice, snow, glacial floods, etc. - and the poet would, therefore, hardly us a word like skafl to mean simply "dune, elevation". I interpret "the snow-pile of the earth" as a reference to the glacier, the greatest of all skaflar. In 5:1-4 we saw how the word hlaupįr "swollen rivers" could refer to hlaup, the terrible floods, which sometimes occur in glacial rivers. Similarly, I interpret hrönn jaršar skafls as "the wave of the earth's snow-mass", i.e. the hlaup, or the terrible rush of the sudden flood of the glacial river, which usually carries enormous ice-bergs, and can lay to waste huge stretches of land. As I've mentioned before, the poet's language is far too strong for mountain-rivers to be meant. The fact that the terrible hrönn is blown (tossed) by snowy tempests (hretvišri), further adds to the image, the violence of which can hardly be taken to refer to a mountain-river. The poet skilfully juggles the elementary forces: Water/Ice, Earth, Air/Wind. The skafl is a lesser glacier (jökull). The hrönn is a lesser ocean.

žurši af afli aš herši... ] "rushed forcefully against Thor". Žurši is the past tense of the uncommon verb žyrja "rush, rush forth".

herši naušar rśmbyggva haušrs įss ] Another complex kenning for Thor. Based on an emendation, first suggest by Finnur Jónsson (rśmbyggva), this seems to be the only way to make sense of this half-stanza. Įss means "a (low) ridge". Haušr means "land, earth". Haušr įss, therefore, means "land of the ridge", i.e. mountain, or a mountainous region. Rśmbyggvir means "room-dweller". Byggvir rśms haušrs įss is the "dweller in the room in the mountains", i.e. cave-dweller, giant. Heršir means "he who makes hard, difficult", nauš means "distress, affliction". "He who inflicts distress upon the cave-dwellers" is, of course, Thor, the bane of giants.

Egilsson read this half-stanza as two sentences:

Herši-įss kykva naušar! Hrönn, blįsin hretvišri jaršar skafls, žurši af afli aš haušurs runn.

There are many objections to such a reading. The first sentence is seen as a vocative, addressing Thor "Thou Thor!". This is totally unacceptable. But let us look at this imaginary vocative sentence, as Egilsson interpreted it. The basic problem here is his reading of nauš kykva as "effort of the muscle", i.e. "bow" (?!). This can not be supported in any way. There is no such word as kykvi, meaning "muscle". Kykva may be read as a common spelling of kvika, but there is no word kviki, either, meaning "muscle". Apparently, some 19th century commentators (Rydberg among them) imagined that such a word existed, but there is no basis for such an assumption. The "įss who uses strength (heršiįss) in the application of the muscle-effort (kykva nauš)" is utterly impossible.

Egilsson then reads aš haušurs runn as "towards the son of Earth". Indeed runnr haušrs is a perfectly permissible kenning for "the descendant of the goddess Earth", but the syntax is not possible, because needs a dative (runni), while runn is an accusative. An emendation to allow this is impossible metrically. There are examples of accusative forms replacing dative forms, but hardly in poetry as ancient as the Žórsdrįpa. Anyway, the matter is irrelevant, because the words of Egilsson's "vocative sentence" would still be unaccounted for.

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