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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut, 33 [Vol. 7, 264-6]

[5] hjá bárum böls ‘past the waves of evil’: 399a-bˣ (so also Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 45) reads barmi ‘brim’; in a marginal note 444 has bárum (so all other eds). Together with boðar lasta ‘billows of vices’ the phrase, possibly a kenning-like circumlocution for sin, evokes the widespread idea that this world is like a perilous sea, its surging waves and raging storms representing various aspects of evil, by which mankind is easily shipwrecked. For discussion see Rahner 1964, 272-303 and 432-72; cf. the common liturgical phrase mare saeculi ‘sea of the world’ (Manz 1941, 291, no. 586). Fortunatus’ Pange lingua evokes this tradition in the ll.: Sola digna tu fuisti ferre pretium saecli / atque portum praeparare nauta mundo naufrago ‘You alone were worthy to bear the price of the world (Christ) and, like the seaman, to make ready a haven for a shipwrecked world’ (Bulst 1956, 128, st. 10); in later liturgical use nauta was replaced by arca ‘ark’ to strengthen the idea of the Cross as ship (see Connelly 1957, 85).


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