Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Heildr 5VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilags anda drápa 5’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 455-6.

Anonymous PoemsHeilags anda drápa

text and translation

Ok völdum her, hölda,
h*ugar skóg, frömuðr, nógu,
regns hátunnu rennir
ranns, aldini faldið,
því er illlífis æfa
andvígr hiti grandar
— fremd er í gipt — grimdar
greypr élreki steypir.

Ok, {frömuðr hölda}, {rennir {ranns {hátunnu regns}}}, faldið {skóg h*ugar} völdum her nógu aldini, því er andvígr hiti illlífis æfa grandar {greypr élreki} grimdar steypir; fremd er í gipt.
‘And promoter of men [= God], impeller of the house of the high barrel of rain [CLOUD > SKY/HEAVEN > = God], you cover the forest of the mind [SOUL] for the chosen army with abundant fruit, which the pernicious heat of a wicked life’s term will never damage nor the violent storm-driver [WIND] of wrath throw down; there is honour in grace.

notes and context

[1-4]: Previous eds have had difficulty in interpreting rennir (l. 3). Sveinbjörn Egilsson (LP (1860): renna) takes it to be 3rd pers. sg. pres. indic. of renna ‘to run’. He construes frǫmuðr regns hátunnu ranns rennir vǫldum hǫlda her hugar skóg, faldit nógu aldini, and translates ornator cæli conserit hominem pectora, velata copioso semine ‘the adorner of heaven binds the hearts [lit. breasts] of men, producing a lot of seed’. This is unsatisfactory, since consero ‘to tie, join’ is not a close translation of renna, and skógr ‘forest’ (l. 2) is m. and cannot agree with faldit (l. 4), which Sveinbjörn takes to be adjectival, without emendation. Rydberg (1907, 45 n. 3) proposes that it is ‘natural’ to take the 3rd pers. sg. pres. form rennir and the p.p. faldit together as a periphrastic phrase, presumably identical in meaning with falda. He offers the examples of vinna in Has 51/7 (þótt menn vinni misgert ‘even though men had comitted sins’) and Anon Gyð 2/4, 8 (vann sier aflað frægðar ‘earned fame for himself’), and orka in Leið 29/3-4 (sterkr er engr svát orki aptrat dróttins krapti ‘no one is so strong as to be able to impede the Lord’s power’). As Kock (NN §2142) points out, the first two examples are not exact parallels, since vinna often functions as an auxiliary in certain constructions. Rydberg offers no evidence for the use of renna in parallel expressions elsewhere, and Fritzner: renna has no examples of such usage. Finnur Jónsson, who is followed by Kock, takes rennir to be a m. noun, base-word of a God-kenning rennir ranns hátunu regns ‘impeller of the house of the high-barrel of rain’. He emends B’s ‘fraumudr’ (l. 2) to framiðr, m. nom. sg. adj. ‘outstanding’, which qualifies the God-kenning. This edn agrees with Finnur in taking rennir as a m. sg. nom. noun, meaning ‘one who makes something run, a spurrer-on, impeller’, but adopts a normalized form of B’s ‘fraumudr’, frömuðr, m. ‘promoter, furtherer’ being construed with hölda (l. 1) to form a kenning for God or the Holy Spirit, frömuðr hölda ‘promoter of men’, which is in apposition to rennir ranns hátunu regns; cf. frömuðr ástar ‘promoter of love’ 1/3.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], C. [3]. Heilags anda vísur 5: AII, 161, BII, 176, Skald II, 92, NN §§1405, 2338; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 53, Rydberg 1907, 1, 45, Attwood 1996a, 55, 152.


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