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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 77VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 77’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 649-50.

Anonymous PoemsLilja

Vindi fult hefir veslan anda
várn ofbeldið laungum feldan;
blár og ljótr í öfundar eitri
jafnan hefir eg næsta kafnað.
Reiðigall með sárum sullum
sviðrar mier um blásin iðrin;
hrygðin slítr af hjartarótum
harðan styrk í sútamyrkri.

Vindi fult ofbeldið hefir laungum feldan veslan anda várn; blár og ljótr hefir eg jafnan næsta kafnað í eitri öfundar. Reiðigall sviðrar mier með sárum sullum um blásin iðrin; hrygðin slítr harðan styrk af hjartarótum í sútamyrkri.

Puffed-up [lit. full of wind] pride has long felled our [my] wretched soul; black and ugly, I have constantly nearly choked on the venom of envy. The gall of wrath burns me with painful ulcers in my swollen bowels; sorrow tears the hard strength from the roots of the heart in the darkness of despair.

Mss: Bb(116ra), 99a(15v), 622(37), 713(13), Vb(254), 41 8°ˣ(130), 705ˣ(19r), 4892(37r-v)

Readings: [1] veslan: vestann 41 8°ˣ, ‘[...]eslum’ 4892    [2] várn: ‘vont’ 99a, Vb, 705ˣ, vort 622, 713, 4892, vondt 41 8°ˣ;    ofbeldið: ofbeldi 713;    feldan: feldi 622, hreldan Vb, 41 8°ˣ, ‘[...]relldann’ 4892    [4] hefir: hefi 99a, 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892    [5] sullum: ‘sóllum’ 41 8°ˣ    [6] iðrin: iður 622    [7] hrygðin: hrygð 4892;    af: úr 99a, 705ˣ;    hjartarótum: hjartans rótum Vb    [8] harðan: harla 622;    sútamyrkri: sútarmyrkri 622

Editions: Skj AII, 387-8, Skj BII, 410, Skald II, 225.

Notes: [All]: The theme of sts 77-8 is the seven deadly or capital sins (see Kilström 1962b). Lists of capital sins appear frequently in ON religious literature: notable examples include HómNo (1-31, 35-8), HómÍsl (HómÍsl 1993, 29v-31r) and Konungs Skuggsjá (Holm-Olsen 1983, 80). The number of sins and the order in which they appear vary in these texts and others. The list in Lil follows a later tradition and corresponds to the one established by Gregory the Great in his Moralia in Iob: superbia ‘pride’ (or inanis gloria ‘vainglory’), invidia ‘envy’, ira ‘wrath’, tristitia ‘sloth, sadness’, avaritia ‘avarice’, ventris ingluvies ‘gluttony’, and luxuria ‘lust’ (Adriaen 1979, 143B:1610-13 [31.45]). It may be derived from a manual for priests by William of Pagula entitled Oculus sacerdotis, which was widely circulated in Europe and the British Isles. ON versions survive in the C15th mss AM 626 4° and AM 672 4° (see Widding 1960 and Þorvaldur Bjarnarson 1878, 159-61). St. 77 deals with the sins of pride (ofbeldi), envy (öfund), wrath (reiðigall), and spiritual despair (hrygð). — [1] vindi fult ‘puffed-up’: Puffed-up or inflated pride is a standard topos in religious literature. Its roots lie in 1 Tim. III.6: ne in superbia elatus in iudicium incidat diaboli ‘lest being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgement of the devil’. — [2] ofbeldið ‘pride’: Cf. 7/7 and 9/6. — [3] blár ‘black, blue, blue-black’: ‘A distinction between the two can often not be drawn’ (ONP: blár). The word is used of bruised flesh (ONP: blár 4); Páll Hallsson translates blár ok ljótr as lividus et deformis ‘livid and deformed’ (Páll Hallsson 1773, 39). Cf. Kirsten Wolf’s discussion of the colour blue and her comment that in this st. ‘blár is clearly used in an abstract sense to denote sinful’ (Wolf 2006, 2). — [6] sviðrar ‘burns’: The word is not attested elsewhere in ON. LP (1860); LP; and Heggstad, Hødnebø and Simensen 1997 translate ‘burn’ (there is no entry in Fritzner). Most eds and translators of the poem follow (Eiríkur Magnússon 1870, 79 and 120; Wisén 1889, 282; Skj B; Åkerblom 1916, 27; Meissner 1922, 15; Guðbrandur Jónsson 1951, 177; Boucher 1985, 2-21; Ødegård 1980, 79; Taillé 1989, 155). But Jón Helgason notes that Sigfús Blöndal defines it as fyge, hvirvles, navnlig om sne; knurre, brumle, mumle (‘fly or swirl, in association with snow; growl, rumble, mumble’, Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4: sviðra 1-2), and this meaning is reflected in Páll Hallsson’s (1773, 39) early Lat. translation furit ‘rages’, although his translation into Dan. reads er beesk ‘is bitter’ (Holm papp 23 folˣ, 21). Baumgartner translates wühlt ‘digs’ (1884, 51), Paasche translates slaar ‘strikes’ (1915, 64) and Lange translates ließ schwellen ‘causes to swell’ (1958b, 69). — [7] hrygðin ‘sorrow’: A translation of acedia (sloth, spiritual torpor, depression), traditionally the fourth deadly sin.


  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. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  5. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  6. Adriaen, Marcus, ed. 1979. [Gregory the Great] Moralia in Iob: Libri 1-10. CCSL 143.
  7. Boucher, Alan, trans. 1985. The Lily and Lay of the Sun: Two Mediæval Religious Poems. Parallel Text Series: University of Iceland, Faculty of Arts Language Centre 1. Reykjavík: Bóksala stúdenta.
  8. Sigfús Blöndal. 1920-4. Islandsk-dansk ordbog / Íslensk-dönsk orðabók. Reykjavík, Copenhagen and Kristiania (Oslo): Verslun Þórarins B. Þorlákssonar / Aschehoug.
  9. Taillé, Michel, ed. and trans. 1989. Le Lis: Poème religieux islandais (‘Lilja’), écrit au XIVe siècle par Frère Eysteinn Asgrimsson. Texts original, présentation, traducion et commentaire. Cahiers du Centre de linguistique et de littérature religeuses 3. Angers: Université catholique de l’Ouest, Institut de perfectionnement en langues vivantes.
  10. Þorvaldur Bjarnarson, ed. 1878. Leifar fornra kristinna fræða íslenzkra: Codex AM 677 4to auk annara enna elztu brota af íslenzkum guðfræðisritum. Copenhagen: Hagerup.
  11. Ødegård, Knut, trans. 1980. Lilja. Oslo: Tiden.
  12. Åkerblom, Axel, trans. 1916a. Lilja: Den nordiska medeltidens förnämsta religiösa dikt af den isländske munken Eystein Ásgrímsson. Lund: Gleerup.
  13. 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.
  14. Guðbrandur Jónsson, ed. 1951. Lilja: Krists konungs drápa tíræð eftir Eystein Ásgrímsson. Reykjavík: Helgafell.
  15. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  16. Páll Hallsson, ed. and trans. 1773. Eysteins Asgrimssonar Lilia, cum versione latina & lectionibus variantibus edita. Copenhagen: [n. p.].
  17. Holm-Olsen, Ludvig, ed. 1983. Konungs skuggsiá. 2nd rev. edn. Norrøne tekster 1. Oslo: Norsk historisk kjeldeskrift-institutt.
  18. HómÍsl 1993 = de Leeuw van Weenen, Andrea, ed. 1993. The Icelandic Homily Book: Perg. 15 4° in the Royal Library, Stockholm. Íslensk handrit/Icelandic Manuscripts Series in quarto 3. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar á Íslandi.
  19. HómNo = Indrebø, Gustav. 1931. Gamal norsk homiliebok, Cod. AM 619, 4°. Det norske historiske Kjeldeskrift Fond, Skrifter 54. Oslo: Dybwad. Rpt. 1966. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
  20. HómÍsl = Íslensk hómilíubók (The Icelandic Homily Book).
  21. Kilström, B. I. 1962b. ‘Huvudsynd’. KLNM, 155-8.
  22. Meissner, Rudolf, trans. 1922. Die Lilie: Dichtung von Eysteinn Ásgrímsson. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder.
  23. Wolf, Kirsten. 2006. ‘The Color Blue in Old Norse-Icelandic Literature’. In McKinnell et al. 2006, II, 1071-80.
  24. Internal references
  25. Martin Chase 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Lilja’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 544-677.

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