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, 230-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Anon Líkn 2VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 2’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 230-2.

Víst má ek hræddr, ins hæsta
heiðs algöfugr, beiða,
mér at munnshöfn dýra
mærðteitr jöfurr veiti,
ár því at ek má stórum
ungr hógsettrar tungu
frá afgerðum orða
ofsjaldan vel halda.

Víst má ek hræddr beiða, at {algöfugr mærðteitr jöfurr ins hæsta heiðs} veiti mér {dýra munnshöfn}, því at ungr má ek ofsjaldan halda {ár orða} vel frá stórum afgerðum hógsettrar tungu.

Surely I must, fearful, entreat that {the completely noble, fame-glad prince of the highest clear-heaven} [= God (= Christ)] grant me {precious mouth-content} [SPEECH], for, [being] young, I can all too seldom keep my {oar of words} [TONGUE] well from great offences of an easily-employed tongue.

Mss: B(11r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] ek: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]k’ B;    ins: ‘[...]ss’ B, 399a‑bˣ    [2] heiðs algöfugr: heiðr algöfugs B, 399a‑bˣ    [4] mærðteitr: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘me᷎rd [...]eítr’ B    [7] orða: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]a’ B

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], C. 1. Líknarbraut 2: AII, 150-1, BII, 160, Skald II, 85, NN §§1385, 1853B, 2584; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 35, Rydberg 1907, 11, 47, Tate 1974, 47.

Notes: [All]: The st.’s concern with sins of the tongue may be inspired by Jas. I.26 and III.5-10 as well as, in a monastic context, by ch. 6 of the Benedictine Rule and the Ambrosian hymn for prime, Iam lucis orto sidere 2/1: linguam refrenans ‘bridling the tongue’ (AH 51, 40 and Ordo Nidr., 183-4, 242, 260, 264). With reference to the nautical imagery (below, and sts 33-4), see also the OIcel. ship allegory, where the tongue is likened to a rudder (rather than an oar): Styret iarteiner tungu mannz, fyr þvi at stiórnen styrer skipeno sem tunga mannz styrer ꜵllum mannenom til goþra hluta eþa illra ... Sva fyrerferr oc sá maþr ser, er illa styrer tungu sinne ... En ef han gæter væl tungu sinnar, þa styrer hann sér til himinrikis ‘The rudder signifies the tongue of man, because the rudder steers the ship just as the tongue of man steers all men (sic ‘the whole man’) to good or evil things ... Thus the man who poorly governs his tongue also perishes ... But if he governs his tongue well he then steers himself to heaven’ (Larsson 1891, 246, glossed by Marchand 1976a, 244-7). — [2] heiðs algöfugr ‘of clear-heaven ... completely noble’: Despite Kock’s effort (NN §1385) to maintain the ms. reading (heiðr algöfugs), there seems to be no way around the need to emend l. 2. Kock’s construction depends upon 1) an otherwise unattested sense of heiðr ‘glory’ as bistånd ‘assistance’, 2) inverting the acc. and gen. objects in the idiom at beiða e-n e-s ‘to ask someone for something’, and 3) mixing weak and strong adjectives following the def. art. (ins hæsta, göfugs). Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 35 n. (supported by Konráð Gíslason 1877, 23 n.) proposed heiðtjalls (i.e. -tjalds ‘-tent’) for B’s ‘heiðr al’; so Rydberg 1907, 47 and Skj B. While this, with the end of l. 1, would be analogous to ins hæsta hríðtjalds in Has 28/1-2, a C12th drápa from which Líkn draws various details, it is unlikely that the poet would use exactly the same sky-kenning twice (cf. heiðtjalds 25/4). A ‘king of heaven’-kenning can be achieved less radically by emending heiðr to heiðs ‘of the (highest) clear-heaven’. (An alternative would be heiðrs ‘of (the highest) glory’; i.e. rex summae gloriae.) Emendation of algöfugs ‘completely noble’ to nom. algöfugr (Skj B göfugr), while less essential, seems justified to avoid apposition of weak and strong adjs following ins ‘the’, but also by the marginal appropriateness of algöfugs as a modifier of ‘sky’. — [3] munnshöfn ‘mouth-content/resource [SPEECH]’: This is the only occurrence in poetry, but the cpd is also found in ON hagiographic prose (Matheus saga, Þórláks saga in yngri); cf. ODan. cognates munnhæfþe, munnhæfth (Fritzner: munnshöfn fig. ‘mode of expression’; also Meissner, 436 ‘mouth-content’ = ‘speech’). Guðrún Nordal 2001, 251-2 proposes that the poet here ‘construes a nýgjǫrvingr ..., calling the tongue orða ár (“oar of words”) and the mouth munnshǫfn (“the harbour of the mouth”). Poetry is pushed out of the harbour through the strength of the poet who commands the oar’. This is an attractive reading in the abstract, and no doubt the nýgjǫrving is present, but ‘harbour of the mouth’ does not seem suitable in context as the direct object of veiti ‘grant’ (l. 4). (See the similar dual possibility with orða ár below.) — [4] mærðteitr ‘fame-glad’: Restoration of <t> based upon 399a-bˣ, supported by teit- : veit- rhymes in Geisl 41/6 and Anon Mdr 27/4, which occasionally borrows from Líkn; cf. synonymous mærðarblíðr Mark Eirdr 4/5II. — [5, 7] ár orða ‘oar of words [TONGUE]’: Restoration of ‘orð’ based upon 399a-bˣ; <rð> confirmed by skothending. The tongue-kenning mixes oddly with the plain noun tungu ‘tongue’ (l. 7) in the same helmingr. Since ár can mean ‘abundance’ (from ‘year’s yield’, Lat. annona) as well as ‘oar’, orða ár might also play off orðgnótt ‘word-abundance’ (1/4) in the previous st., in which case the poet would be contrasting his own surfeit of words – a sin of the tongue – with the true abundance of inspired words for which he has just prayed. — [5] stórum ‘great’: Skj B construes adverbially (‘very’); Rydberg 1907, 47 and NN §2584, as here, with afgerðum ‘offences’.

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