Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

VII. Lilja (Lil) - 100

not in Skj

Lilja (‘Lily’) — Anon LilVII

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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Skj: Eysteinn Ásgrímsson: Lilja (AII, 363-95, BII, 390-416)

SkP info: VII, 573-5

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11 — Anon Lil 11VII

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Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 11’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 573-5.

Breytti guð og brá til hætti
blóð og hold af vatni og moldu,
liettan blástr af lofti næsta,
lífs heitleika af sólar reitum,
önd og þar til síðan sendi;
sú er skiljandi drottins vilja;
leið kunnandi um líkams æðar,
líf skínanda af helgum anda.

Guð breytti og brá hætti til, blóð og hold af vatni og moldu, liettan blástr af lofti næsta, heitleika lífs af {reitum sólar}, og sendi síðan þar til önd; sú er skiljandi vilja drottins, kunnandi leið um æðar líkams, skínanda líf af helgum anda.

God transformed and changed his behaviour, blood and flesh from water and soil, the light breath from the nearest air, the warmth [lit. warmths] of life from {the paths of the sun} [SKY/HEAVEN], and then he sent a soul there; it is discerning the Lord’s will, knowing the path through the body’s blood vessels, the shining life from the Holy Spirit.

Mss: Bb(113vb), 720a VIII(2r), 99a(3r), 622(25), 713(6), Vb(247), 41 8°ˣ(107), 705ˣ(4r-v), 4892(26r)

Readings: [1] hætti: hættis 622    [2] vatni: ‘[...]atnn’ 622    [3] liettan: liet hann 4892;    næsta: hæsta 720a VIII, 99a, 622, 713    [4] lífs heitleika: so 720a VIII, 99a, 713, 705ˣ, lífs heitleik Bb, líf sitt leyka 622, en lífs leika Vb, 41 8°ˣ, og lífs leika 4892;    reitum: ‘rettum’ 720a VIII, ‘reiki’ Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 4892    [6] sú: so 99a, Vb, 705ˣ, svá Bb, 622;    skiljandi: so 720a VIII, 99a, 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892, skiljanda Bb    [7] líkams: lífsins Vb, 41 8°ˣ    [8] líf: lífið 720a VIII, en líf Vb;    skínanda: so 713, skínandi Bb, 720a VIII, 99a, 622, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892

Editions: Skj: Eysteinn Ásgrímsson, Lilja 11: AII, 366-7, BII, 393, Skald II, 213-4, NN §3309.

Notes: [All]: Behind this st. is the traditional notion that after creating the cosmos, God set out on a new, analogous course of action, and created man, the microcosmos. Cf. the ON Eluc: callasc hann af þui enn minne heimr. þuiat hann hafþe hold af iorþo enn bloþ af vatne blost af lofste enn hita af elde ‘he is therefore called microcosm, the small world. He got his flesh from the earth and his blood from the water, his breath from the air, and his warmth from the fire’ (Eluc 1992, 14-15). There is also a shift from the creation of the lower animals to the creation of man, who has a rational soul and thus can know God. Cf. Stjórn (Unger 1862, 20): Madrinn med sinni skynsemd [cf. Lil 5/2] er eigi þaleidis skapaðr lutr ok nidr leitr sem skynlaus kuikendi. er hans likams uo᷎xtr rettr formeradr upp til himinsins sua sem sealfan hann aaminnandi. at hann hafi aa þann haat sin hugskotz augu ok skilningaruit til himneskra hluta. sem hans likamligh augu skilningaruit ok aaseona ueit upp til himinsins ‘The man with his discernment is not thus created bowed over and bent downward like insensible creatures. The growth of his body is upright toward heaven, so he can remind himself that, in that way, he should have his mind’s eye and his discernment turned towards heavenly things: like his bodily eyes, his discernment also turns its glance up towards heaven’. — [1] guð breytti og brá hætti til ‘God transformed and changed his behaviour’: The reading here follows Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and most other eds: according to LP the idiom bregða hætti til means to change one’s way of proceeding, but this is not attested by any other dictionary. Bregða occurs with a variety of prepositions and adverbials, but idioms with til always have a gen. object and hætti is dat. sg. Bregða e-u til e-s can mean ‘to change one thing into or make equal with another’ (Fritzner: bregða til e-s), and breyta (til) can mean ‘to vary, alternate, arrange elegantly’ (ONP: breyta 3; Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4: breyta 1). Kock disputes that háttr can mean ‘way of proceeding’ (so Skj B fremgangsmåde) and argues that it rather means ‘condition, type, nature’. However, it is well attested in the sense ‘manner of behaviour, characteristic behaviour’ (see SnSt Ht 37/5 and 89/5III). Kock translates ‘God changed and re-made nature: blood and flesh from water and earth’ (NN §3390). — [2] blóð og hold af vatni og moldu ‘blood and flesh from water and earth’: The typological relationship between Adam and Christ is emphasised by the use of similar words to describe Jesus’ resurrected body (blóð það, er tók af móður ‘that blood, which he took from his mother’ 67/8) and his physical presence in the eucharist (hold og blóð, það er tókt af móður ‘flesh and blood which you took from your mother’ 83/6). — [3] af lopti næsta ‘from the nearest air’: This may be a reference to the lowest heaven, the heaven nearest the earth. Following biblical tradition (cf. 2 Cor. XII.2) the ON Eluc posits three heavens: Þrir ero himnar. einn licamlegr sa es ver megom sia. Annarr andlegr. þar es andlegar scepnor bvggua þat ero englar. Enn þriþe es scilningar himinn þar es heilog þenning bvggver. oc helger englar mego þar sia Goþ ‘There are three heavens: first a physical heaven which we can see; the second heaven is spiritual, where the spiritual beings called angels live; and the third is the heaven of understanding, where the Holy Trinity lives and where the holy angels can see God’ (Eluc 1992, 4-5). Cf. þriðja himni ‘third heaven’ 40/2. The alternative ms. reading, lopti hæsta ‘the highest heaven’ is meaningless in this context (see Schottmann 1973, 194-5 n. 10). — [4] reitum sólar ‘from the paths of the sun [SKY/HEAVEN]’: The basic meaning of reitr is a furrow dividing two fields. By analogy it can also denote a garden bed, a path, a path on a game board, an area, space, region (cf. stjörnu reitar ‘star’s path’ 26/2 and dags reitar ‘day’s path’ Anon Líkn 32/6). This kenning suggests the boundary between the second heaven, associated with the sun and the stars and the warmth of life, and the lowest heaven (lopti næsta), associated with wind and breath. The image of a dividing furrow also resonates with the theme of Gen. I, where God’s work of creation consists of separation and division (light from darkness, dry land from sea etc.), and where the purpose of the ‘lights made in the firmament of heaven’ is to delineate day and night, seasons, days, and years. Konráð Gíslason (1877, 21) suggests that the pl. form reitum is used here in reference to the places in the sky where the sun appears at various times. — [6] sú er skiljandi drottins vilja ‘it [lit. she, the soul] is discerning the Lord’s will’: The verb skilja is used in theological literature to denote the ability of the soul to discern the will of God as well as the capacity to distinguish between good and evil. This power of the soul has already been mentioned above in st. 5. The Lenten homily in HomÍsl has an extensive discussion of the discerning faculties of the soul (hanſ aɴde getr ſkilþan guþs vilia ‘his soul distinguishes the will of God’). See HomÍsl 1993, 50v-54r, esp. 52v. — [7]: As its actuating substantial form, the soul pervades and suffuses the body. Cf. Stjórn (Unger 1862, 20): sua sem gud er hueruetna allr medr sinn almatt i hinum meira heima. sua er aundin in sinum minna heimi þat er i ollum likamsins limum medr huerium sem einum ueralldligum manni ‘just as God with his omnipotence is everywhere in the macrocosmos, so is the soul in its microcosmos, that is, in all the limbs of the body of each and every earthly man’. Blood, as the life principle of the body, has traditionally been associated with the soul. Cf. Lev. XVII.11: quia anima carnis in sanguine est et ego dedi illum vobis ut super altare in eo expietis pro animabus vestris et sanguis pro animae piaculo sit ‘Because the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you, that you may make atonement with it upon the altar for your souls, and the blood may be for an expiation of the soul’ and Petrus Comestor, Historia Scholastica (col. 1071) on Gen. II: sedes animae est in sanguine ‘the seat of the soul is in the blood’.

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