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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, 239-40

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — Anon Líkn 9VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 9’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 239-40.

Hróðr stofna ek heiðar
hjálmspennanda þenna
bæði hryggr ok blíðan
bjartr ok glaðr í hjarta,
ok mun árum þykkja
eggmóts, of hvárttveggja
vísi ljóss ef vissi,
vera sök til þess nökkur.

Bæði hryggr ok bjartr ok glaðr í hjarta stofna ek þenna blíðan hróðr {{heiðar hjálm}spennanda}, ok mun þykkja {árum {eggmóts}} vera nökkur sök til þess, ef ljóss vísi vissi of hvárttveggja.

Both sorrowful and bright and glad at heart, I begin this joyful encomium {for him who spans {the heath’s helmet}} [(lit. ‘helmet-spanner of the heath’) SKY/HEAVEN > = God], and it will seem {to messengers {of the edge-meeting}} [BATTLE > WARRIORS] that there is some cause for this, if a bright prince might know of both [i.e. sorrow and joy].

Mss: B(11v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] heiðar: ‘[...]dar’ B, ‘h[...]ðar’ 399a‑bˣ    [3] blíðan: bliðr 399a‑bˣ    [5] ok: ‘[...]’ B, 399a‑bˣ    [8] þess: ‘[...]’ B, ‘þ[...]’ 399a‑bˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], C. 1. Líknarbraut 9: AII, 152, BII, 162, Skald II, 86, NN §§1390-1; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 37-8, Rydberg 1907, 13, 48, Tate 1974, 54.

Notes: [1] stofna ‘to institute, begin’: Used with respect to beginning a poem also in RvHbreiðm Hl 43/2III (C12th). — [1] heiðar ‘of the heath’: Restoration based in part upon <h> in 399a-bˣ (required also by alliteration); heiðar suggested by Sveinbjörn Egilsson accepted by all subsequent eds. — [3-4]: The second couplet has been subject to various readings and emendations. — [3] blíðan ‘joyful’: 399a-bˣ and all previous eds, except Rydberg (1907, 13 and 48), read the superscript <n> (for ‑an, i.e. acc. m. adj.; cf. æztan 13/7, sáran 16/2) as an ‘r/er’-abbreviation, i.e. blíðr or (so Skald) blíðir. To avoid having the l. then end with a stressed syllable (blíðr), Sveinbjörn Egilsson, followed by Konráð Gíslason (in Nj 1875-8, II.1, 30) and Skj B, transposes to blíðr ok hryggr bæði, thus allowing the l. to end with a trochee. Konráð Gíslason and Skj B also add a second ok (between hryggr and bæði) to give the l. six syllables. NN §1390 (cf. Skald), choosing blíðir (construed as an otherwise unattested m. noun ‘joyful one’) over blíðr, maintains the ms. word order, which allows six syllables and a final trochee. Sensing the need for contrasting pairs, Konráð Gíslason also emends glaðr ‘glad’ (l. 4) to myrkr ‘dark’ (i.e. blíðr ok hryggr | bjartr ok myrkr ‘joyful and sorrowful, bright and dark’); Skj B follows this thinking but prefers dapr ‘downcast’. Although the symmetry is appealing, the point seems to be that the joy (bjartr ok glaðr ‘bright/happy and glad’ and blíðan hróðr ‘joyful encomium’) outweighs the sorrow, though the subject of the Crucifixion causes the poet to experience both (cf. Árni Gd 1/2IV dyggur ok bjartur í mínu hjarta, amplified in 24/5-8). — [4] bæði ‘both’: Although technically only relating two elements, bæði can also introduce an extended series (here hryggr ... ok bjartr ok glaðr (ll. 3-4); see Fritzner: bæði n. pl. — [5] ok: Restoration proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson adopted by all subsequent eds; the <k> is supported by skothending and the <o> by the need for an alliterating vowel. — [6] of hvárttveggja ‘of both’: Of, prep. (= um, i.e. vita um e-t ‘to know about something’); hvárttveggja ‘both, each of two’ taken to refer back to the joy and sorrow of the first helmingr. — [7] ljóss ‘bright’: Adj. Skj B construes as gen. sg. of ljós ‘light’, taking it as base-word in a sword-kenning eggmóts ljós ‘light of edge-meeting [BATTLE > SWORD]’ (ll. 7, 6) (so also Guðrún Nordal 2001, 293). Skj B further emends vísi ‘prince’ (l. 7) to vísum ‘wise’, agreeing with dat. pl. árum ‘messengers, men’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson followed by Rydberg forms a cpd vísiljós(s), defined in LP (1860) as ignis praenuntiativus ‘announcing fire’ (from vísa ‘to show, demonstrate’), again as a base-word in a sword-kenning. Both of these readings have the advantage of dispensing with the somewhat awkward shift from pl. árum to sg. vísi, both referring to the same unspecified person, but necessity of emendation in the one and the somewhat unlikely compound vísiljós in the other make both undesirable. The present reading favours that of Kock (NN §1391) who follows the ms.; the only difference is that he translates vísi ljóss as förståndig hövding ‘intelligent, wise chieftain’ whereas the adj. usually refers to physical appearance. Vísi ‘prince’ is construed here to have generalised reference, ‘a person’. — [8] til þess ‘for this’: Restoration proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson and adopted by all subsequent eds; the <þ> was legible to Jón Sigurðsson in 399a-bˣ, and there is no space in B for further characters, hence the standard abbreviation for þess, made more sure by the preceding til.

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