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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut, 37 [Vol. 7, 271-3]

[6, 5, 7] lastbundnir lautviðir linns ‘sin-bound dell-trees of the serpent [GOLD > MEN]’: Laut ‘dell’, is a small, wooded hollow or valley, by extension simply ‘land’. Analogous to lastbundnir ‘sin-bound’ is bönd glæpa ‘bonds of sin’ 30/1-2 (cf. Prov. V.22). The combination here of tree, serpent, and sin may be consciously intended to evoke the fall of Adam. If so, the st. has an implicit typological structure, counterbalancing Adam (figura Christi, Rom. V.14) with Christ (the New Adam, 1 Cor. XV.45-9), the Tree of Knowledge with the Tree of Life (the Cross), and original sin with its remedy through the atonement of Christ, the helgasta fórn lífs ‘holiest sacrifice of life’ (ll. 6, 8). From Origen forward, the exegetical and iconographic tradition has placed Adam’s grave (as represented by a skull, see Kirschbaum et al. 1968-76, IV, 343) on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, so that the blood of the Second Adam pours over the first, prefiguring for Adam and his posterity liberation from death and the effects of sin.

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