Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 30VII/7 — anda ‘Spirit’

Friettir nú, með hverjum hætti
henni bæri til fögnuð þenna,
borgarmúrr svá að brysti hvergi
bygð geymandi hreinleiks dygða.
Eingill segir, að ei mun syngaz
jungfrú blíð, þá er sveinn er smíðaðr
haglig myndan heilags anda
hold og bein af líkam hreinum.

Friettir nú, með hverjum hætti þenna fögnuð bæri til henni, svá að borgarmúrr, geymandi bygð dygða hreinleiks, brysti hvergi. Eingill segir, að blíð jungfrú mun ei syngaz, þá er sveinn, haglig myndan heilags anda, er smíðaðr, hold og bein af hreinum líkam.

She asks now by what means this joy might befall her, so that the guarding wall, protecting the dwelling of the virtues of chastity, should nowhere break. The angel says that the gentle virgin will not commit sin, when the boy, the proper image of the Holy Spirit [= God (= Christ)], is formed, flesh and bone from the pure body.


[6-7] er sveinn er smíðaðr, haglig myndan heilags anda ‘when a boy is formed, the proper image of the Holy Spirit [= God (= Christ)]’: This is the reading of Bb, which alone has þá er sveinn er smíðaðr. Most other mss have þó () sveininn smíði, and this reading is adopted by Finnur Jónsson in Skj B, who understands þó at sveininn smíði | haglig myndun heilags anda to mean fordi den helligånds kunstfærdige skabekraft skaber drengen ‘because the Holy Spirit’s ingenious creative power creates the boy’. Aside from the difficulty of understanding þó () as ‘because’, there is also the problem of the noun myndan or myndun. In LP Finnur understands myndan, the reading of Bb, as a f. noun meaning ‘formation, creation’, which is nowhere else exemplified in ON poetry, and takes haglig myndan heilags anda as a circumlocution for Christ. However, it is possible that Bb’s myndan is a variant form of myndun, f. nom. sg. (cf. ANG §137 Anm. 3) in the sense ‘prototype, image, type’ (cf. Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4: myndun; ONP: myndan; Orðabók Háskólans: myndan, though their earliest citation is from C17th; Schottmann 1973, 230 n. 8). This is the sense adopted here, and myndan is regarded as in apposition to sveinn (l. 6). The variant readings of other mss appear to understand mynd f. ‘form, image’ with suffixed def. art., giving a sense þótt haglig myndin heilags anda smíði sveininn ‘although the deft image of the Holy Spirit fashions the boy’. Kock (Skald) emends to myndum here, but this unexplained reading may in fact be a typographical error for myndun (he has no NN on this subject).




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