Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Heildr 2VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilags anda drápa 2’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 452-3.

Anonymous PoemsHeilags anda drápa

Fæsk, en frá líða lestir,
friðr, þeim er synda iðrask;
hljóta menn af mætum
miskunn lífsins brunni.
Greindr skínn orð ok andi

Friðr fæsk, þeim er iðrask synda, en lestir líða frá; menn hljóta miskunn af mætum brunni lífsins. Greindr andi skínn ok orð …

Peace is obtained for those who who repent their sins, and flaws pass away; men receive mercy from the worthy spring of life. The discerning spirit shines and the word …

Mss: B(10r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [2] iðrask: so 399a‑bˣ, BFJ, ‘i[...]’ B, ‘id[...](z)’(?) BRydberg    [5] Greindr: so 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg, BFJ, ‘Gr[...]índr’ B

Editions: Skj AII, 160, Skj BII, 175, Skald II, 92, NN §§2335, 2336, 3157; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 52, Rydberg 1907, 1, 45, Attwood 1996, 55, 151.

Notes: [1] líða ‘pass away’: Kock (NN §2335) objects to what he regards as excessive alliteration (on f and l) in this l., and emends to hlíða, 3rd pers. pl. pres. indic. of hlíða ‘to give way, move aside’, construed with lestir ‘flaws’ (l. 1). He is anticipated by Rydberg. — [2] friðr... þeim er iðrask synda ‘peace ... for those who repent their sins’: Recalls Gamlkan Has 25/3, which also occurs in a context concerning the promise of salvation to the penitent. — [4] brunni lífsins ‘spring of life’: This is one of a cluster of metaphors characterising the Holy Spirit as a spring or river. Compare brunnr miskunnar ‘spring of mercy’ in 8/4, eilífr ok heilagr brunnr ‘eternal and holy spring’ in 12/6, and brunnr vits ‘spring of wisdom’ in 16/2. Such epithets are widespread in medieval devotional literature and hymnody, and their ultimate source is undoubtedly biblical. Brunnr lífsins appears to be a calque on Jer. II.13, where God describes himself as fons aquae vitae ‘the fountain of the water of life’. The image of God as the source of life-restoring water is one of the most common biblical metaphors, perhaps the most common occurrences of which are Ezekiel’s vision of the river of life (Ezek. XLVII.1-12), S. John’s parallel vision of the crystal-clear river in Rev. XXII.1-2, and Christ’s claim to be the source of life-giving water in John IV.14. — [5] greindr skínn ok orð andi ‘the discerning spirit shines and the word ...’: Repetition of the first words of a stef, the remainder of which is lost in the lacuna preceding fol. 10r, is indicated by the obelos symbol in the right-hand margin.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  5. Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1844. Fjøgur gømul kvæði. Boðsrit til að hlusta á þá opinberu yfirheyrslu í Bessastaða Skóla þann 22-29 mai 1844. Viðeyar Klaustri: prentuð af Helga Helgasyni, á kostnað Bessastaða Skóla. Bessastaðir: Helgi Helgason.
  6. Internal references
  7. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 25’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 94-5.

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