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Runic Dictionary

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

III. 1. Nikulásdrápa (Nikdr) - 3

2.3: Nikulásdrápa (‘Drápa about Nikulás’) — Anon NikdrIII

Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Nikulásdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 565.

stanzas:  1   2   3 

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: C. [2]. Nikulásdrápa (AII, 160, BII, 174-5); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3

in texts: FoGT, Gramm

SkP info: III, 565

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

Three anonymous helmingar (Anon Nikdr) in dróttkvætt metre in honour of S. Nicholas, bishop of Myra (ON Mirrea) near Patara in Lycia, present-day Turkey, are cited by the author of FoGT. Two are said by the author to be from a NikulásdrápaDrápa of Nicholas’ (FoGT 1884, 129), while the third, which is cited earlier in the treatise (FoGT 1884, 122), is probably from the same poem, to judge by its subject-matter. No other parts of this poem survive, though there is plentiful evidence of the popularity of this saint and his cult in medieval Norway and Iceland from at least the twelfth century, possibly earlier, and a good deal of both prose and poetry in his honour (Sigfús Blöndal 1949; Widding 1961; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 326-7; Cormack 1994, 136-8; Sverrir Tómasson 1982; Sverrir Tómasson, Bragi Halldórsson and Einar Sigurbjörnsson 2007, 3-32). Bari, in South Italy, to where Nicholas’s relics were removed in 1087, Myra and Patara are mentioned in the Leiðarvísir ‘Itinerary’ of Abbot Nikulás ( I, 20), generally identified with Nikulás Bergsson (d. 1159), and S. Nicholas is associated with these places there.

Aside from the present fragments of Nikdr, there are several fifteenth-century or later Icelandic poems about Nicholas, including a Nikulásdiktur and the hrynhent Nikulásdrápa of the priest Hallur (Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 80-2, 315-19; ÍM II, 413-33), the latter of which offers points of comparison with the present fragments, and suggests either a common source or that Hallur composed his poem under the influence of Nikdr. It has been conventional among editors (so Skj B, Skald) to change the order in which the three helmingar appear in FoGT and place the first cited last. The order in which the stanzas appear in W, the sole ms., has been retained in this edition, though it is admittedly not possible to be certain of the original order. Stanza 2 is identified by the author of FoGT as a refrain, but we do not know exactly where in the drápa this refrain may have come (see Context to st. 2). To judge from the subject-matter, all stanzas are likely to have been taken from an early section of the drápa.

Skj dates the poem in the later thirteenth century, and places it alongside Anon HeildrVII. It is possible that it may be slightly younger, to judge by the use of the compound adjective mannvitsfrægrar ‘famous of understanding’ in st. 3/3, as such compounds of noun in the genitive plus adjective are more common in fourteenth-century poetry. It is judged here to date from the early fourteenth century.

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