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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Lilja, 23 [Vol. 7, 589-90]

[4] yfirspennanda þrennra heima ‘over-spanner of three worlds [= God]’: The kenning recalls biblical texts like Isa. XL.12 (quis mensus est pugillo aquas et caelos palmo ponderavit ‘who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and weighed the heavens with his palm?’) and Ps. XCIV.4 (in cuius manu fundamenta terrae ‘In his hand are all the ends of the earth’). Cf. the following God-kennings: frónspennir fagrtjalda ‘clasper of the fair tents of the land’ (Has 44/5-6); heimspennir ‘world-spanner’ (Has 64/6); skríngeypnandi skýstalls ‘holder of the shrine of the cloud-platform’ (Has 29/7-8), umgeypnandi alls heims ‘holding the whole world in his hands’ (Geisl 16/7-8), umgaupnandi allrar skepnu ‘holding all creation’ (Anon Mgr 2), and umgeypnandi allrar skepnu ‘the holder [in his hands] of all creation’ (Kálf Kátr 36/3). The ‘three worlds’ could be either heaven, hell, and earth, or the three heavens mentioned elsewhere in the poem (11/3, 27/4, 40/2). This is the only recorded occurrence of the cpd yfirspennandi.


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