Grund gulls [ground of gold]: The Trope of Woman as “Land” in Skaldic Poetry from the Tenth to Fourteenth Centuries
ABSTRACT: Skaldic diction has long been noted for the many analogies it creates between the human body and the natural environment. One manifestation of this interchange occurs where women are referenced by kennings with base words denoting “land” or “earth,” as in the kenning grund gulls [ground of gold]. The idiosyncrasies of this type of woman-kenning have not before been studied, although a related metaphorical construction in which land is likened to a woman has been discussed. This article examines the linguistic taxonomies, metaphorical correlatives, and creative adaptations of this kenning-type “woman-as-land” within skaldic verse of the tenth to fourteenth centuries. The article also looks beyond kennings as lexical units, considering how imagery of women as “land” occurs in various forms of wordplay in skaldic verse and how these images are subsequently incorporated into the prosimetrical contexts of sagas.