Side by side with the expressions in the Second Lay which seem clearly to show AS influence, there are others which agree with AS expressions, but where the agreement is of such a kind as to afford no proof of borrowing from English. These expressions, however, deserve notice, for they at any rate support the idea that the Helgi poems stand in close connection with AS works.
The word hermegir (II, 5), 'warriors,' occurs nowhere else in ON., but in the AS Genesis 2483, we have heremæcgas. That AS mæcgas is not grammatically identical with ON megir is of little consequence.
Sigrún is called dís skjöldunga
in II, 51; and Brynhild has the same name in Brot, 14. Yet neither Sigrún
nor Brynhild is of the race of the Shieldings. Cf. AS ides Scyldinga,
Béow., 1168, used of a Shielding queen. Here the AS expression has a more
original meaning. ON dís, 'woman,' does not, indeed, correspond in form
with AS ides, 'woman'; but it agrees in meaning, and the two words are
so near each other in sound that dís could very easily be inserted instead
of ides, if the AS expression were carried over to the Norse lay.
The dead Helgi says of Sigrún's tears:
hvert fellr blóðugt
á brjóst grami
úrsvalt 'in fialgt'
ekka þrungit (II, 45).
'Each tear falls bloody on the king's breast, ice-cold......burdened with sorrow.' The most probable explanation yet given of innfjálgt is 'pressing in deep.' Such a meaning for the word is not, however, according to ON usage; but the reading is supported by the AS intransitive use of the verb which corresponds to ON fela, 'to conceal.' (35)
'Bloody' as an epithet of tears of sorrow and despair occurs also in Irish. We read, e.g., of the Druid Cathbad: 'He wept in streams great red tears of blood, so that his chest and bosom were wet.' (36) But this expression proves nothing as to the home of the poem; for bloody tears are mentioned also in German popular poetry (37) and in the Persian epos. We still say: 'græde sine blodige Taarer,' 'to weep one's bloody tears.'
When Guthmund has seen the enemies who have come to his land, he says: 'battle-redness spreads itself over the vikings' (verpr vígroða um víkinga). The word vígroði, 'battle-redness,' means a red gleam in the air which foreshadows battle. (38) Similar expressions occur in Irish tales. In the Book of Leinster we read that Cuchulinn, when the hostile hosts from south and west carried war over the borders of Ulster, 'saw from him the ardent sparkling of the bright golden weapons over the heads of the four great provinces of Erin, before the fall of the cloud of even.' (39)
In II, 42, the chieftain is called fólks jaðarr, 'the people's protector.' Jaðarr, here used figuratively, literally means in ON 'edge, border,' and in that meaning is very old and much used in Norse. It is in reality the same word as AS eodor, 'fence,' and corresponds to OHG etar, MHG eter, 'geflochtener Zaun, Umzaunung; Saum, Rand überhaupt.' We have the same figurative use in Fáfn., 36, hers jaðarr, and in Lokas., 35, where Frey is called ása jaðarr, 'the chieftain of the gods.' This may be compared with poetic expressions in other languages, ancient and modern, as when Frederic IV. is called in a verse 'Folkets værn og gjærde' (the people's defence and fence), or when Ajax is called in the Iliad, erkoj Acaiwn. So the king in Béowulf is called eodor Scyldinga, Ingwina; in the Gnomic verses, Ex. 90, eodor æðelinga, 'the (de)fence of the Shieldings, Ingvins, high-born men.' English influence is here probable, but it cannot be proved. (40)
Of the dead Helgi we read
in II, 42: dólgspor dreyra, 'the wounds bleed.' The word dólg, neut.,
oftenest used in composition, means in poetic language 'battle,' but more
originally 'hostility.' By dólgspor wounds are artificially designated
as 'battle-tracks.' But, on the other hand, that word appears to have
originated under the influence of AS dolhswæð, neut., in the pl. dolhswaðu,
'scars,' which is a compound of AS dolh, dolg, neut., 'wound,' and swæð,
neut., pl. swaðu, 'tracks.'
35. þæt ic in ne fele, 'ut non inheream,' Psalm, Surt., 68, 15; cf. AS inne fealh, 'penetrated.' Back
36. See Cath Ruis na Ríg for Boinn, ed. E. Hogan, p. 2. Back
37. In Seifrietslied: 'Sie weinte aus ihren Augen alle Tage das rote Blut.' Back
38. Cf. before the battle of Stiklestad: vígroðe lystr a skyen fyrr en bloð kæmr a iorðena (Ólafssaga helga, Christiania, 1849, chap. 91). By imitation of H. H.: vígroða verpr á hlýrni, Merlín, 2, 68; vígroða víða varp af rómu (Stjörnu-Odda draumr, ed. Vigfusson, Copenhagen, 1860, p. 121). Back
39. Rev. Celt., I, 42. Back
40. The name of the man Jöðurr (Fóstbrðrasaga and Glúma) should be noted here. Back