Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Heildr 8VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilags anda drápa 8’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 458.

Anonymous PoemsHeilags anda drápa

Hvert mein þváið, hirtir
hugar sjúks, liði mjúku,
gegn, sá er góðu magnar,
glöðum brunni miskunnar.
Siðlátum eykr sætan
sá bekkr, þeim er af drekka,
(linar brysti þrá) þo*sta
(þekkr elskugi) rekkum.

Gegn hirtir, sá er góðu magnar, þváið hvert mein sjúks hugar mjúku liði glöðum brunni miskunnar. Sá bekkr eykr sætan þo*sta siðlátum rekkum, þeim er af drekka; þekkr elskugi linar þrá brysti.

Fitting chastiser, who strengthens righteousness, you wash every stain of the sick mind with gentle help in the clear spring of mercy. That spring intensifies sweet thirst in those morally upright men who drink from it; delightful love alleviates longing in the breast.

Mss: B(10r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] Hvert: so 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg, ‘H[...]t’ B, ‘H[...]rt’ BFJ    [7] þo*sta: þorsta all    [8] elskugi: so 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg, BFJ, ‘elsk[...]ge’ B

Editions: Skj AII, 161, Skj BII, 177, Skald II, 93, NN §1407; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 54, Rydberg 1907, 2, 46, Attwood 1996a, 56-7, 152.

Notes: [2] sjúks hugar ‘of the sick mind’: This phrase may also be construed with hirtir (l. 1), giving the kenning-like periphrasis hirtir sjúks hugar ‘chastiser of the sick mind’ for the Holy Spirit; cf. 14/2, 3 lundgóðr hirtir böls ‘benevolent chastiser of sin’. This is however, a less preferable reading, as the Holy Spirit (and Christ) are usually represented as healers, not chastisers, of the sick mind. — [2] liði mjúku: This edn follows Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) in interpreting this phrase as describing the Spirit’s aid, and is translated ‘with gentle help’. This interpretation relies on taking liði as dat. sg. of lið, n. meaning ‘help, assistance, care’ (Fritzner: lið 2). It is also possible to interpret lið, n. in the sense ‘people, folk’ (Fritzner: lið 1), and to take the phrase as a reference to those cleansed by the Spirit (pace Kock, NN §1407). — [4] glöðum ‘clear’: Skj B emends to glæps gen. sg. of glæpr m. ‘sin, wickedness’, construing the kenning as gegn hirtir glæps ‘gentle chastister of sin’. He takes hvert mein sjúks hugar ‘every stain of the sick mind’ as the object of the verb þváið ‘you wash’. — [5-8]: There seems to be a curious reversal here of Christ’s promise in John IV.13-14: ei omnis qui bibit ex aqua hac sitiet iterum qui autem biberit ex aqua quam ego dabo ei non sitiet in aeternum sed aqua quam dabo ei fiet in eo fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam ‘Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever: But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting’. — [7] brysti : þo*sta: The rhyme remains imperfect, but B’s þorsta must be normalised to the late form þo*sta to give a semblance of skothending.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  6. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  8. 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.

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