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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

VII. Líknarbraut (Líkn) - 52

not in Skj

Líknarbraut (‘The Way of Grace’) — Anon LíknVII

George S. Tate 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Líknarbraut’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 228-86.

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Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: C. 1. Líknarbraut (AII, 150-9, BII, 160-74)

SkP info: VII, 276-7

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

41 — Anon Líkn 41VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 41’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 276-7.

Engr fær töld með tungu
tákn þín, er nú skína,
hjálpar hneigistólpi
heims alls, of kyn beima.
Æxtr ferr valt til vaxtar
vegr þinn, er berr fegri,
hreinn, en hugðu vinnim,
hverja dýrð, of skýrða.

{Hneigistólpi alls heims hjálpar}, engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín, er nú skína of kyn beima. Hreinn vegr þinn, er berr hverja dýrð fegri en vinnim of skýrða hugðu, ferr valt æxtr til vaxtar.

{Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation} [CROSS], none can enumerate with tongue your signs, which now shine upon the race of men. Your pure honour, which bears every glory fairer than we might express in thought, grows continually greater.

Mss: B(12r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] Engr: engi B, 399a‑bˣ;    fær töld: ‘ferr to᷎l[...]’ B, ‘ferr to᷎ld’ 399a‑bˣ    [4] of: ok B, 399a‑bˣ    [5] Æxtr: æxt B, 399a‑bˣ    [8] of: ór B, 399a‑bˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], C. 1. Líknarbraut 41: AII, 157-8, BII, 171, Skald II, 90, NN §1398; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 47-8, Rydberg 1907, 18, 52, Tate 1974, 86.

Notes: [1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr. — [1] fær töld ‘can enumerate’: Since the ‘er’-abbreviation can also represent <e᷎r> (<ær>), as in væri 10/3, this is not strictly an emendation (as first proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson), and cf. ferr (l. 5). — [3] hneigistólpi ... hjálpar ‘inclining pillar ... of salvation [CROSS]’: Stólpi ‘pillar, column’, is used in Veraldar saga to translate the pillar of light that guided the Israelites in Exod. XIII (Jakob Benediktsson 1944, 26 and 83). The Cross as column or pillar is a rare image (cf. sigrstóð ‘victory-post’ 42/2). Rabanus Maurus (C9th) calls the Cross columna et firmamentum veritatis ‘the column and mainstay of truth’ (De laudibus sanctae crucis, col. 169; Perrin 1997, 59). Possibly influenced by Líkn, the image occurs in Mgr 13/2-3 where Mary tells how she watched as Christ bore on his shoulders the hjálpar stólpa til píslar ‘pillar of salvation [CROSS] to the torment’. (Mary herself is called hjálpar stólpi in Mdr 41/5 and Pét 5/7). ‘Inclining’ (hneigi-, from hneigja ‘incline, bow down’, as in 3/1-4 hneig heyrn þína ‘incline your hearing’) may, as LP (1860) and LP propose, suggest the idea of leaning forward as if proffering a gift; cf. the kenning in Kálf Kátr 45/6-7 hneigiþollr öglis túna ‘giving tree of hawk’s home fields [ARM > GENEROUS MAN]’. But here the image is more likely based upon st. 9 of Fortunatus’ Pange lingua, in which the poet tenderly entreats the Cross to bend in order to ease Christ’s suffering: Flecte ramos, arbor alta, tensa laxa viscera / et rigor lentescat ille, quem dedit nativitas ‘Bend your branches, noble tree; relax your tense fibres, and let the firmness nature gave you become pliant’ (Bulst 1957, 128). — [4] alls ‘all the world’s’: LP (1860) and Rydberg 1907, 52 assign this phrase to kyn beima ‘race of men’ (l. 4), but it seems more suitable to hjálpar, i.e. (inclining pillar) ‘of all the world’s salvation’. (Heims and kyn beima are also rhymed in Has 20/6.) — [4] of ‘upon’: Ms. ok (abbreviation); Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s 1844, 48 emendation, adopted by all subsequent eds, seems unavoidable; a preposition is clearly necessary. — [5-8]: The helmingr is problematic and cannot be resolved without emendation. This edn follows Rydberg’s emendation of (l. 8), and Skj B’s Æxtr (l. 5). The various approaches can be characterised as follows: Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 48 attempts to salvage the ms. readings, normalising only adv. valt to n. vald ‘power’. His construction, found in LP (1860): æxti and berr, is æxt vald ferr til fegri vaxtar, en vinnim hugðu ór skýrða hverja dýrð – þinn hreinn vegr er berr, or to translate his Lat. ‘The distinguished power (of the Cross) rises into growths too beautiful for us to be able in thought to explicate its every excellent virtue – your clear glory is manifest’. But this is awkward, loosely translated, and depends on inexact meanings, e.g. berr (manifesta ‘manifest’). Rydberg 1907, 52 follows this construction but emends ór (l. 8) to of. He understands hugðu (dat.) (l. 7) simply as ‘in [our] thought’, as does this edn. Skj B emends (as here) æxt to æxtr and (like Rydberg) ór to of, construing hugðu (l. 7) as p.p. of hyggja (LP: hugðu fegri ‘fairer than is thought’); Finnur Jónsson then arranges the subordinate clause as er berr hverja dýrð hugðu fegri en of vinnim skyrða ‘which bears each glory, more beautiful than can be thought (and more beautiful) than we can express’. NN §1398 (cf. Skald), accepting æxtr for æxt, emends hugðu to hugða, paralleling skýrða (l. 8), and ór (Skj B of) to ok (l. 8); Kock then translates ‘Your honour, the pure, which possesses every beauty, (is) fairer than we can think or express’. But this is again rather free and requires three emendations. — [5] æxtr ‘augmented, (made) greater’: P.p. of æxla ‘to cause to grow, increase’ (only CVC gives æxa, causal from vaxa, as a headword separate from æxla). — [5] ferr valt til vaxtar ‘grows continually’: The verbal phrase fara (or ganga) til vaxtar means simply ‘to grow’. Adv. valt, short for ávalt ‘continually’, from adj. valr ‘round, in a circle’. The short adv. form valt also occurs in Bjbp Jóms 38/1I and Anon Mhkv 28/1III. A minor reason for taking valt as adv. rather than as n. vald ‘power’ (like Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Rydberg) is that the longer form ávalt and veg- appear in the same positions in Has 59/5-6 and Anon 34/5-6, the two poems from which Líkn draws the most details. — [7-8] vinnim skýrða ‘we might express, explain [lit. might make expressed, explained]’: Vinna with predicative adj. or (as here) part. ‘to make _-ed’; i.e. with skýrða ‘to make told, explained’ or simply ‘to express, explain’. The form is pres. subj.; the antecedent of skýrða (acc. f. p.p.) is dýrð ‘glory’ (l. 8). On dýrð : skýrða cf. Geisl 66/2 and EGils Guðv 4/3-4IV.

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