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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Máríuvísur II, 5 [Vol. 7, 705]

[3] góðlátr (m. nom. sg.) ‘the good-natured man’: Skj B assigns this adj. to the preceding cl. (góðlátr ógndjarfr ‘the good-natured battle-brave man’) and supplies an understood ‘she’ as the subject of the second cl.: ‘she wanted very much to bear a child’ (see NN §3361). While such an interpretation is certainly possible, it remains ambiguous because the subject of the cl. is missing. It could well be that the woman’s sorrow, which is discussed in the subsequent helmingr, resulted from the fact that she was unable to fulfill her husband’s desire to bear him a child. The corresponding place in Mar (1871, 977) is of little help and reads as follows: Þessi kona var obyria, harmadi hun þat miok, er hun matti eigi barn geta ‘This woman was barren, and she lamented it very much that she was not able to bear a child’. However, according to the story in Mar about Joachim and Anna, Mary’s parents, it was a cause of shame for a married man not to sire offspring (see Mar 1871, 3): En fyrir því þótti mest brigzli ok svívirðing at barnleysi í Moyses lögum, at þat var vitat, at eigi mundi guþs sonr frá þeim manni koma, er barnlauss væri ‘And the reason that it was deemed to be the most blame and shame concerning childlessness in the laws of Moses was because it was known that the son of God could not issue from a man who was childless’.

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