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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

VII. Líknarbraut (Líkn) - 52

not in Skj

Líknarbraut (‘The Way of Grace’) — Anon LíknVII

George S. Tate 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Líknarbraut’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 228-86.

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Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: C. 1. Líknarbraut (AII, 150-9, BII, 160-74)

SkP info: VII, 243-4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — Anon Líkn 12VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 12’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 243-4.

Sá * baztr frá mey mæztri
mildingr beraz vildi
heiða tjalds ok holdi
hjálmprýddan sik skrýddi;
en nauð á sik síðan
sjálfráði tók dáða
víst fyr vára löstu
vísi sjálfr með píslum.

{Sá * baztr mildingr {heiða tjalds}} vildi beraz frá mæztri mey ok skrýddi sik hjálmprýddan holdi; en síðan tók vísi sjálfr, sjálfráði dáða, nauð á sik með píslum, víst fyr vára löstu.

{The best prince {of heaths’ tent}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God] willed to be born from a most precious maiden and clothed himself, helmet-adorned, with flesh; and later the prince himself, independently with regard to his deeds, took distress upon himself with torments, certainly for our errors.

Mss: B(11v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] * baztr: Sá er baztr B, 399a‑bˣ;    mæztri: ‘mez[...]’ B, ‘ṃe᷎ztri’ 399a‑bˣ    [2] mildingr: ‘[...]lldin[...]’ B, ‘ṃilldingr’ 399a‑bˣ    [5] sik ðan: ‘si[...]’ B, ‘ṣịḳ s[...]’ 399a‑bˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], C. 1. Líknarbraut 12: AII, 152, BII, 163, Skald II, 86; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 38-9, Rydberg 1907, 13, 49, Tate 1974, 57.

Notes: [1-2]: The first couplet echoes descriptions of the Nativity in the poet’s two chief C12th models: Leið 23/3-4 and Has 19/1-4. — [1] : Ms. ‘Sá er’; the relative particle er as pron. is problematic, and this ed. follows Skj B and Skald in omitting it. A scribal error seems possible both because of the infrequency of + strong adj. + noun constructions and because of recent occurrences of sá er (1/7) and sú er (10/6). Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Rydberg retain er, but this is problematic since it requires deferring the relative particle syntactically (‘The best prince ... who willed to be born’) rather than keeping it contiguous with (i.e. ‘That one who’). Such postponement would not allow Sá er to be cliticised and would thus produce a seventh syllable. Then, too, it would seem odd, construing ok as ‘also’ (or ‘in addition’), to say ‘The best prince ... who willed to be born ... also took on flesh’. — [2] mildingr ‘prince, generous ruler’: Restoration based upon 399a-bˣ, confirmed in part by alliteration and aðalhending. — [3] heiða tjalds ‘of heaths’ tent [SKY/HEAVEN]’: This is the poem’s first use of tjald ‘tent’ in a heaven-kenning extended as a tvíkennt kenning for God or Christ; cf. 24/5-7 fróns tjald ‘earth’s tent’, 25/4 heiðtjald ‘heath-tent’, 50/8 veðra tjald ‘winds’ canopy’. The greatest concentration of this kenning type occurs in Christian poetry and especially in Líkn’s model Has 1/2, 10/4, 14/6-8, 20/2, 28/2, 31/3, 41/4, 44/5-6, and 65/6. Such kennings may be informed by the biblical idea of the heavens as a tabernacle; see Isa. XL.22 qui extendit velut nihilum caelos et expandit eos sicut tabernaculum ad inhabitandum ‘he that stretcheth out the heavens as nothing and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in’. (With respect to God’s ‘stretching out the heavens’ see -spennandi ‘who spans [the heavens]’ 9/2.) See Eisler 1910, II for comparative discussion of the Himmelszelt ‘tent of heaven’ in ancient cultures. — [4] hjálmprýddan ‘helmet-adorned’: Skj B (cf. LP), followed by Skald, apparently concerned about the seeming incongruity between God’s being ‘helmet-adorned’ yet clothing himself with flesh, emends to hjálpprýddan ‘equipped with help, salvation’. But hjalmprýddr suggests metaphorically that the second person of the Trinity enters the world as a warrior prepared for battle, a metaphor that also occurs in OE Christian poetry and in the OS Heliand. The helmet was a royal as much as a warrior adornment in the Middle Ages. — [5] sik síðan ‘himself ... later’: Restoration based upon 399a-bˣ (including conjecture ‘síðan?’ in Jón Sigurðsson’s note), supported in part by the needs of alliteration and skothending; a trace of possible <k> followed by descender of possible <s> remain. A six-syllable l. requires that the final word be disyllabic, but the lacuna has space for only three letters, with possible abbreviation (‘-an’, ‘-ar’). — [6] sjálfráði ‘by his own will, choice, independently [lit. self-counsel]’: Cf. Kálf Kátr 9/5-6 Sjalfráður á sik tók dauða | sára písl fyr glæpi vára ‘at his own choice he took upon himself death, a painful torment for our misdeeds’.

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