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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Sólarljóð, 53 [Vol. 7, 333]

[4] sviðnir fuglar ‘singed birds’: Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 82) compares an account of an eruption of the Icel. volcano Hekla where onlookers, seeing birds flying into the flames of the eruption, interpreted the sight as souls flying in Hell in Flat (Flat 1860-8, III, 559). For souls as black birds in the flames of Hell cf. the ‘Vision of the Monk of Wenlock’ (Tangl 1916, 11) where the visionary sees miserorum hominum spiritus in similitudine nigrarum avium ‘spirits of wretched men in the likeness of black birds’; the Visio Alberici (Mirra 1932, 91) depicts souls swarming like flies in diabolic fire; Dugg (Cahill 1983, 47) records souls singed in fire.

references

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