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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Sólarljóð, 50 [Vol. 7, 330-1]

[4] laugavatn ‘A bath, washing water’: The significance of this reference is unclear. Some eds assume that the water symbolises repentance and absolution, cf. the heavenly maidens of st. 74 who wash souls clean. Falk (1914a, 29), following CVC: laug, makes the connection with the Saturday (laugardagr) bath, as physical and spiritual preparation for Sunday. Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 46; also Paasche 1948, 183) suggests the bath represents the hot tears of remorse and penitence; cf. Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 79). Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 197-8) contributes a parallel from the Dialogues of Gregory, referring to washing as a way of removing sin produced by intercourse with women (Unger 1877, I, 246). If water symbolises spiritual cleansing here, then the narrator presumably alludes to his former life of debauchery when he was not yet ready to undergo penance. Earlier commentators, as Fidjestøl (1979, 47-8) notes, regarded the bath as the kind of luxury which the body now no longer requires.


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