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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Allra postula minnisvísur, 4 [Vol. 7, 857-8]

[6] kæstr Máríe næstri ‘dearest to Mary [who was] closest by’: Ms. ‘kærstr’; aðalhending with næstri indicates that assimilation has taken place, cf. ANG §272.3; so Skj B, but Skald retains the ms. reading. Finnur Jónsson translates næstri as if modifying hann, but without proposing emendation to næstr, as if ‘He stood by Christ’s Cross, dearest to him, nearest to Mary’. Such an emendation would produce a hypometrical l. in any case, unless næstr were desyllabified to næst-ur. The passage as it stands may be intended to recall that while on the Cross, Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to John (cf. John XIX.26-7), and it may be with this in mind that the poet describes John as ‘dearest to Mary’. This detail is included in brief martyrological accounts, such as IO 71, 1; cf. Jón1x 414. It is not unlikely, however, that the author was influenced here by iconography, for in Crucifixion scenes John the Apostle is widely represented at the foot of the Cross, supporting a half-fainting Virgin Mary (see Kilström 1956, 174-5; Moltke 1962, 591).


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