Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Allra postula minnisvísur, 5 [Vol. 7, 859-60]

[5-8] Pílagrímar halda mikið stím mildum manni ... í Kompostella ‘Pilgrims make a great tumult about the gentle man ... in Compostela’: James the Great is the patron saint of pilgrims, and a pilgrim’s staff is one of his attributes (see Braun 1943, 347-9; Kilström 1956, 174; Roeder 1956, 20). In the later Middle Ages the shrine of S. James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain was one of the greatest centres of pilgrimage in Christendom (see generally Vázquez de Parga et al. 1948-9; Sumption 1975, 115-16, 120; Cross and Livingstone 1983, 325; Kilström 1962a, 529). Icelanders who visited Santiago de Compostela include Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson, who made the journey a little before 1200 (see GSvert Hrafndr 3IV; Hrafns saga, ch. 4 in Guðrún P. Helgadóttir 1987, 4) and the chieftain Björn Einarsson, who included Compostela in a pilgrimage he made between 1405 and 1411 (Lögmannsannáll, s.a. 1406, Storm 1888, 288; cf. Einar Arnórsson 1954-8, 41; Jakob Benediktsson 1968, 305-6; Krötzl 1987, 189-200; Cucina 1998, 86-7, 126). Cf. refs to the shrine of S. James in JJ SÁM 1 669, 671, 680, 684, 687, 695-6, 698, 699, 700; and in Mar 1871, 869, 1079. Finnur Jónsson interprets the late word stím according to one of its modern senses ‘trouble, difficulty’ (LP: stím; cf. Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4: stím I.c.) and translates: pilegrimme gör den milde mand megen ulejlighed ‘pilgrims cause the gentle man much distress’. Here the word stím may perhaps have the same sense as its MHG cognate stīm ‘tumult, din’ (see AEW: stím); for medieval accounts of unruly clamour, in a cacophony of different languages, among pilgrims gathering in large numbers at the shrine of S. James at Santiago see, e.g., Sumption 1975, 213, 339. Alternatively, the word may have developed a sense close to that reflected in MDan. stime n. ‘shoal (of fish), swarm’, cf. stime sammen ‘to crowd, throng’, and the passage may mean ‘pilgrims maintain a great swarm about the gentle man’.


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