Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Máríudrápa, 1 [Vol. 7, 478-9]

[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.

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