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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Sólarljóð, 51 [Vol. 7, 331-2]

[1] á stóli norna ‘on the norns’ seat’: 166bˣ has stól in error for stóli. The norns are pagan figures who determine fate, cf. Vsp 20, SnE 1982 18-19, though they are not normally associated with a seat. The throne of judgement is a Christian image; thus, as with other syncretic ideas in the poem, such as the dísir in 25/1, the poet has translated a Christian concept into its imagined pagan equivalent. However Óðinn’s high-seat Hliðskjálf (Skí prose; Grí prose; SnE 1982, 13) permits a view into other worlds. Hávm 138 tells of Óðinn’s sacrifice hanging on the World-Tree, Yggdrasill ‘Steed of the Terrifying One’ which brings him occult knowledge. For Falk (1914a, 29) and Paasche (1914a, 183) the nine days on the norns’ seat refers back to the narrator’s sickness, an explanation with which Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 80) concurs. However as Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 46-9) objects, the fatal illness is concluded in st. 45. He argues that Nornastóll is a mountain-name, and refers to the soul’s sojourn in purgatorial fires, situated on a peak in the Other World. Since in st. 46 the narrator has apparently been born into the next world, it seems likely that the period on the seat is a transitional time of waiting in the next world, though not necessarily spent in Purgatory.

references

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