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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Lausavísur (Anon)

III. 2. Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise (FoGT) - 47

not in Skj

2.3: Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise — Anon (FoGT)III

Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 570.

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Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: D. 3. Vers af den 4. grt. afhandling (AII, 214-19, BII, 231-6); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25

SkP info: III, 610

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

33 — Anon (FoGT) 33III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise 33’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 610.

Víngarðr hafði öl-Gefn orðið
(unda vargs), sú er nú eru margar,
(neytir skili þann krók) með k*æti,
kvensku heft og látið eftir.
Fyrðum dugir, að ósiðr orða
— oss vægðu, guð, jafnan — lægðiz;
vára þó hann í vatni skíru
verka sekt og píslarmerki.

{Öl-Gefn}, sú er nú eru margar, hafði orðið víngarðr með k*æti og látið eftir kvensku heft; {neytir {vargs unda}} skili þann krók. Dugir fyrðum, að ósiðr orða lægðiz; guð, vægðu oss jafnan; hann þó sekt verka vára í skíru vatni og píslarmerki.

{The ale-Gefn <= Freyja>} [WOMAN], she who now are many, had become a vineyard with cheerfulness and abandoned her preserved chastity; let {the user {of the wolf of wounds}} [AXE > WARRIOR] understand that obscurity. It helps men that a bad habit of words should be diminished; God, spare us always; he washed the guilt of our sins in pure water and in the sign of his passion.

Mss: W(117) (FoGT)

Readings: [1] öl‑: ‘[…]l‑’ W    [3] k*æti: ‘kiæti’ W    [4] heft: ‘h[…]ft’ W;    látið: láti W

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], [C]. D. Religiøse og moraliserende vers af den 4. grammatiske afhandling 9: AII, 164-5, BII, 181-2, Skald II, 95, NN §§2342, 2586, 3163; SnE 1848-87, II, 232-3, III, 161, FoGT 1884, 142, 284-5, FoGT 2004, 50, 75, 143-5, FoGT 2014, 34-7, 123-4.

Context: Stanza 33 exemplifies the rhetorical figure that FoGT calls sineptesis (Lat. synepthesis), which is described as an inappropriate exchange (vskaplikt vmskiptí) of either grammatical number or person.

Notes: [All]: Stanza 33 is in hrynhent metre. The stanza is obscure in sense until one realises that it follows the Doctrinale’s examples of the figure (Reichling 1893, 177, ll. 2618-23). The first helmingr follows the Doctrinale’s example of a change of grammatical number, between sg. subject and pl. verb, unica facta fuit mulier, quae sunt modo plures ‘woman was made singular, who soon afterwards are many’. Öl-Gefn, sú er nú eru margar, hafði orðið víngarðr ‘The ale-Gefn < = Freyja> [WOMAN], she who now are many, had become a vineyard’ produces a similar example, using a woman-kenning as sg. subject, a f. sg. rel. pron. (sú er) and a pl. verb (eru) plus pl. adj. (margar). In the second helmingr there is an abrupt shift from a 2nd to a 3rd pers. verb, as in the Doctrinale’s nobis parce, deus; nobis lavet ille reatus ‘God, spare us! May he wash [away] guilt from us’. The Icelandic example moves from 2nd pers. vægðu oss ‘spare us’ (l. 6) to 3rd pers. hann þó ‘he washed’ (l. 7). Even the disapproval of the figure expressed very strongly in both the prose and the verse of the Icelandic text finds a more muted parallel in the Lat. ista sed in nostrum mutatio non venit usum ‘but that change does not come into our usage’. However, the disapproval of obscure language in ll. 5-6 of the stanza is not paralleled in the Latin, but may be compared with Anon Lil 98VII and other C14th poetry rejecting elaborate skaldic diction. — [1-4]: Not only does the first helmingr illustrate a change from sg. subject to pl. verb, as described in the previous Note; it also provides an instance of obscure language, in this case a woman-kenning öl-Gefn ‘the ale-Gefn’ (l. 1) combined with a metaphorical equation between a woman who has lost her virginity and a vineyard that bears fruit. This is the krókr ‘obscurity’ (cf. LP: krókr 3) referred to in l. 3, and this kind of language is deplored in the second helmingr as ósiðr orða ‘a bad habit of words’ (l. 5). — [8] píslarmerki ‘in the sign of his passion’: Here understood as a cpd of píslar ‘of suffering, torment’ + dat. sg. of merki ‘mark, sign, banner’, referring to Christ’s Cross as the symbol of his passion (so FoGT 1884, 285 n. 7 and FoGT 2004, 145), and taken with í skíru vatni ‘in pure water’ (l. 7) as representing the two main guarantees of human salvation, the water of baptism and the symbol of Christ’s crucifixion. Cf. the more common noun píslarmark, which always refers to Christ’s Cross. Kock (NN §3163) understands píslar merki to refer to Christ’s blood. Both FoGT 1884, 284 and Skj B construe ok píslarmerki with sekt verka vára (ll. 7-8) to give the sense ‘[he washed] the guilt of our deeds and signs of torment [in pure water]’. This is possible grammatically but less plausible from a doctrinal point of view.

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