Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mdr 1VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Máríudrápa 1’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 478-9.

Anonymous PoemsMáríudrápa

Heil, gleði og mildi móðir;
mátt þrískipað váttaz
göfugt öndvegi greindra
guðdóms fararblóma.
Guðs þrenning veik þannveg
(þú ert enn skipaðr hennar
höfuðkastali) hæstum
(hæstr) manndýrðum glæstra.

Heil, móðir gleði og mildi; mátt váttaz göfugt þrískipað öndvegi greindra fararblóma guðdóms. Guðs þrenning, glæstra hæstum manndýrðum, veik þannveg; þú ert enn skipaðr hennar hæstr höfuðkastali.

Hail mother of gladness and grace; you may be called the noble tripartite high-seat of the branched magnificent conveyance of the Godhead. God’s Trinity, embellished with the highest virtues, turned to you [lit. that way]; you are still established as its highest chief castle.

Mss: B(13v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] Heil: ‘[...]eil’ B    [4] farar‑: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘fa[...]’ B    [8] hæstr: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘h[...]str’ B

Editions: Skj AII, 464, Skj BII, 496-7, Skald II, 271, NN §§1633, 1634, 2997A; Konráð Gíslason 1860, 555, Rydberg 1907, 32, 53, Attwood 1996a, 102, 303.

Notes: [All]: Given the occurrence of the first stef in st. 3, the st. numbered 1 here is unlikely to represent the original beginning of the poem, but it is interesting that the B scribe treats it identically with the openings of the complete texts he copies elsewhere in the ms. This suggests that his exemplar may also have contained an incomplete text of Mdr. — [1] Heil ‘Hail’: B omits the initial letter, leaving a gap for a later rubricator, who never filled it. Lines 18-19 of fol. 13v are indented by 1cm, to allow space for the initial capital. — [3-4] göfugt þrískipað öndvegi greindra fararblóma guðdóms ‘the noble tripartite high-seat of the branched magnificent conveyance of the Godhead’: The sense of this elaborate, even florid circumlocution for the Virgin Mary is difficult. Finnur Jónsson, who does not include a prose w.o. in Skj B, appears to follow Rydberg in compounding fararblóma m. gen. pl. (l. 4) and interpreting greindra as m. gen. pl. of p.p. greindr ‘discerned, noticed, remarked upon, expounded’ agreeing with fararblóma. He translates du kan kaldes et ædelt af tre besat højsæde for guddommens omtalte (?) rejse(?)-blomster ‘you may be called a noble high-seat, occupied by three, for the Godhead’s famous(?) travel(?)-flowers’. Schottmann (1973, 49-50 n. 10) notes that this interpretation can be supported if the last two words are understood slightly differently and comments that the expression paßt nicht schlecht in den pompösen Stil dieser Drapa ‘does not fit badly into the pretentious style of this drápa’. The cpd m. noun fararblómi (CVC: fararblómi ‘travelling with pomp’ and Fritzner: fararblómi, hvad der tjener til at forherlige ens Reise, give den Glans og Anseelse ‘what serves to enhance one’s journey, give it splendour and magnificence’; cf. ONP: blómi 2 ‘magnificence’) has three senses in ON prose: 1. magnificence of means, mode of transport (used of a ship/ships); 2. magnificent equipment, accompaniment (of something taken on a journey, like a tent, wealth, a book); 3. used of mental baggage. The sense of the cpd in Mdr seems closest to sense 1, and is taken here to refer to Mary as the Godhead’s magnificent conveyance into this world (st. 2 continues the theme of the Incarnation). The whole expression of which this phrase is part forms a kenning-like circumlocution for the Virgin, described as a þrískipað öndvegi ‘tripartite high-seat’ (l. 3), the adj. presumably indicating that she is the dwelling-place for the Trinity, an idea also conveyed by the adj. greindra (l. 3, see below). Kock (NN §1633), followed by Attwood 1996a, offers a different interpretation, and construes farar with guðdóms and greindra with blóma to give the sense ‘of the branched flowers of the Godhead’s being’, understood as a kenning for the Trinity. Kock understands farar as gen. of f. fǫr ‘appearance, being’ from the verb fara, with the unusual sense ‘to deport oneself’, ‘to appear’. This verbal usage (but not that of the noun fǫr) is attested in Fritzner: fara 8 and 9. Fǫr guðdóms is therefore glossed as gudomens sätt att te sig, gudomens väsen ‘the deportment, or mode of being, of the Godhead, its essence’. Greindr is understood as a participial adj. from greina in its literal sense ‘to divide into branches’, which, as Kock notes, is used of the Trinity in Anon Pét 2/1. The possible sense of greindr ‘branched, divided’ to refer to the Trinity is attractive, and is preferable to Finnur’s ‘famous’, especially as the Trinity is invoked in the second helmingr. It has been adopted here. However, the lack of parallel for fǫr ‘appearance, being’ and good evidence for the cpd fararblómi in religious prose argues against Kock’s interpretation as a whole. Thanks are due to Christopher Sanders for information from ONP data slips on the prose senses of the cpd fararblómi. — [5-8]: Although his paraphrase suggests that he agrees in principle with the prose w.o. here, Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) engages in some rather over-interpretative translation. He seems to envisage a direct encounter between the Trinity and the Virgin, in which the divine ‘seal of approval’ is offered: guds treenighed henvendte til hende ... disse ord: du er endnu dens höjeste hovedkastel ‘God’s Trinity addressed these words to her: “You are yet its highest chief castle”’. Apart from the fact that there is nothing in the text to suggest that there is any speaking voice other that the poet’s here, it would be strange for the Trinity to refer to itself in the 3rd pers. as ‘its highest chief castle’. — [5] guðs þrenning ‘God’s Trinity’: Kock (Skald) inverts these words, to preserve the alliterative scheme. — [7-8] hæstr höfuðkastali ‘highest chief castle’: This image is similar to Has 60, where Mary is described both as Christ’s hǫfuðmusteri ‘chief temple’ and as his kastali ‘fort, castle’. Similar compounds occur throughout Mdr: höfuðmusteri ‘chief temple’ occurs at 14/3 (where the entire l. is identical to Has 60/3); Mary is described as höfuðstaðr ‘chief place’ in 2/8, which is echoed in höfuðborg ‘chief fort’ in 40/3. On the Lat. model of templum domini and its symbolism in Mariology, see Note to Has 60 and Schottmann 1973, 48-50.


  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. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  6. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  7. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Schottmann, Hans. 1973. Die isländische Mariendichtung. Untersuchungen zur volkssprachigen Mariendichtung des Mittelalters. Münchner germanistische Beiträge 9. Munich: Fink.
  9. 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.
  10. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  11. Internal references
  12. Not published: do not cite (LdnIV)
  13. David McDougall (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Pétrsdrápa 2’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 798.
  14. Katrina Attwood 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Máríudrápa’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 476-514.
  15. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 60’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 126-7.

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