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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

VII. Lilja (Lil) - 100

not in Skj

Lilja (‘Lily’) — Anon LilVII

Martin Chase 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Lilja’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 544-677.

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Skj: Eysteinn Ásgrímsson: Lilja (AII, 363-95, BII, 390-416)

SkP info: VII, 593-4

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27 — Anon Lil 27VII

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Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 27’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 593-4.

Leið sigrandi páfugls prýði
pentað innan firmamentum
Gabriél sem geisli sólar
gleðiligur í loft in neðri.
Sendiboði kom sjaufalds anda
— svá er greinanda — að húsi einu;
sannr meydómrinn sat þar inni
sjálft hreinlífið gimsteinn vífa.

Gabriél, sigrandi páfugls prýði, leið sem gleðiligur geisli sólar innan pentað firmamentum í in neðri loft. {Sendiboði sjaufalds anda} kom að einu húsi; þar inni sat sannr meydómrinn, hreinlífið sjálft, gimsteinn vífa; svá er greinanda.

Gabriel, excelling the peacock’s beauty, moved like a joyful ray of the sun through the ornamented firmament into the lower air. {The messenger of the sevenfold Spirit} [ANGEL = Gabriel] came to a house; therein sat the true maidenhood, purity itself, the jewel of women; so it is to be told.

Mss: Bb(114rb), 720a VIII(2v), 99a(6r), 622(28), 713(8), Vb(249), 41 8°ˣ(113), 705ˣ(8r), 4892(28v)

Readings: [3] geisli: geislin 705ˣ    [4] í: um 622, 713, 4892, og Vb;    loft in: loptum Vb, 41 8°ˣ    [5] Sendiboði: sendiboð 720a VIII, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, sendiboðinn 713, 4892;    kom: komu 720a VIII    [6] greinanda: greinandi 99a, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892    [7] meydómrinn: meydómr 4892    [8] gimsteinn: ‘gimsteirn’ 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892

Editions: Skj: Eysteinn Ásgrímsson, Lilja 27: AII, 372, BII, 397, Skald II, 216, NN §2629 D.

Notes: [All]: Gabriel’s willing descent at God’s command recapitulates Lucifer’s unhappy fall in st. 7. Schottmann (1973, 202) cites as a parallel a pseudo-Augustinian Christmas homily: Moxque uolatu rapido secat axem astriferum, nubesque profundas celer adiit, perculsitque lumine noctem. Ipse per medios caeli sinus flammeos artus vibrans, ignito aere fertur; et, ueluti cum pavo uersicolor obiectus radiis multifluos colores pinnis creptitantibus fundit, nunc aureo, nunc roseo nunc uiridi, nunc purpureo mixtus honori décor diem mutat picturis infectum et coloribus uariis ‘And soon, with rapid flight, he flew through the star-bearing heavens, and rapidly approached the dense clouds, and cast light through the night. He moved swiftly through the middle heaven, aflame with burning air, and just as a multicolored peacock displays many changing colors with its rustling wings, splendor mingled with honor transformed the day, coloring it with various hues’ (Barré 1963, 66). — [1] páfugls ‘peacock’s’: The angel Gabriel is frequently portrayed in late medieval art with peacock wings. See Bernström 1968. — [3] pentað ‘ornamented’: Penta means ‘to paint, decorate with pictures’. PBp uses it in an account of the building of a church: Hann lét Atla prest skrifara penta allt rjáfrit innan… ‘He had Atli, the priest and painter, paint the whole underside of the roof…’ (ÍF 16, 306). In typical medieval manner, the poet regards the universe as a macrocosmic image of a church (or, more rightly, the church as a microcosmic image of the universe) (JH). — [3] geisli sólar ‘ray of the sun’: Cf. kennings for Christ geisli sólar miskunnar ‘beam of the sun of mercy’ (Geisl 1/6) and geisla guðs hallar ‘ray of God’s hall’ (Geisl 7/1-2). Here the poet may likewise wish to suggest that the angel is an extension of God. The image anticipates st. 33, where the geisli symbolises the Divinity shining through Mary’s humanity at the birth of Jesus. Cf. the kenning-like periphrasis for Mary, geisli lofta ‘light-beam of the heavens’, in 89/3. — [4] gleðiligur ‘joyful’: Kock (NN §§2629 and 1509A) argues that the necessary resolution of the first two syllables means that the l. lacks a stress, and that Finnur Jónsson’s normalisation to gleðiligur does not solve the problem. In fact, desyllabification does make the l. correct metrically. — [4] en neðri loft ‘the lower air’: Cf. lofti næsta ‘the nearest air’ 11/3 and Note, as well as 40/2. The poet imagines a traditional three-tiered cosmology, of which the sphere of air surrounding the earth is the lowest or nearest. The image of Gabriel transcending the atmospheric layers is literary rather than biblical or homiletic. — [5] sjaufalds anda ‘of the sevenfold Spirit’: Translates Lat. septiformis spiritus, a commonplace in liturgical and theological texts from the earliest days of Christianity. The image has its roots in Isa. XI.2-3: et requiescet super eum spiritus Domini spiritus sapientiae et intellectus spiritus consilii et fortitudinis spiritus scientiae et pietatis et replebit eum spiritus timoris Domini ‘And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord’. Cf. 80/5-6: Send mier hingat sanna gift sjaufalds anda ‘send to me here the true gift of the sevenfold Spirit’. The phrase occurs twice (on the same page) in HómÍsl: biþia os ſva ſiꜹfaldrar giftar enſ helga anda ‘we pray for the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit’ (HómÍsl 1993, 49v). The image of a sevenfold spirit is strange, but it is by no means uncommon in medieval texts, e.g. the famous hymn Veni Creator Spiritus: Tu, septiformis munere... ‘You, sevenfold with gift...’ (AH 2, 93; Brev. Nidr, P.viiv). — [8] gimsteinn vífa ‘jewel of women’: The same kenning-like phrase is used for Mary in Mgr 39/4. Cf. gimsteinn brúða ‘jewel of women’ in 89/4 and gimstein sprunda ‘jewel of women’ in Árni Gd 10/6IV, as well as the later Icel. poem Gimsteinn (ÍM I.2, 285-332). In Lat. hymns Mary is commonly referred to as gemma ‘gem’, eg. gemma puellarum ‘gem of maidens’ (AH 30, 129) and gemma virginum ‘gem of virgins’ (AH 32, 88, 236; 40, 95). Mary Magdalene is called gimstein brúða ‘jewel of women’ in Anon Mey 11/8, and Bishop Guðmundr is gimsteinn lærðra manna ‘jewel of learned men’ in Árni Gd 69/4IV.

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