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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

VII. Líknarbraut (Líkn) - 52

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, 252-3

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22 — Anon Líkn 22VII

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Cite as: George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 22’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 252-3.

Kvaliðr sté öllum æðri
ítr gramr til helvítis
dægra láðs ept dauða
djöfla rann at kanna.
Leysti sinn at sönnu
sólhallar gramr allan
lýð fyr lífstré þjóðar
líknarstyrkr frá myrkrum.

{Kvaliðr ítr gramr {dægra láðs}}, öllum æðri, sté ept dauða til helvítis at kanna {rann djöfla}. {Líknarstyrkr gramr {sólhallar}} leysti at sönnu allan sinn lýð frá myrkrum fyr {lífstré þjóðar}.

{The tormented glorious king {of days’ land}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)], higher than all, descended after death to Hell to explore {the house of devils} [HELL]. {The mercy-strong king {of sun’s hall}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)] freed truly all his people from darkness by means of {the life-tree of mankind} [CROSS].

Mss: B(11v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] öllum æðri: ‘o᷎ll[...] ed[...]’ B, ‘öll[...]’ 399a‑bˣ    [5] at sönnu: ‘[...]t s[...]nnu’ B, ‘at sẹ⸜o᷎⸝nnu’ 399a‑bˣ    [6] sólhallar: ‘[...]hallar’ B, ‘s[...]hallar’ 399a‑bˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], C. 1. Líknarbraut 22: AII, 154, BII, 166, Skald II, 88, NN §30; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 42, Rydberg 1907, 15, 50, Tate 1974, 67.

Notes: [All]: A frequent motif in representations of the Harrowing of Hell is that of light – associated here with Christ through sól ‘sun’ (l. 6) and perhaps dægra láð ‘days’ land’ (l. 3) in the kennings – penetrating the darkness (myrkrum, dat. pl., l. 8) as it moves from the highest realm to the lowest. See, e.g., Niðrst1 I.7: Cristr ferr her nu oc rekr a braut meþ liose guþdoms sins dauþa myrcr... ‘Now Christ goes here and dispels the darkness of death with the light of his godhead...’ (Hms II, 6). — [1] öllum æðri ‘higher than all’: A plausible conjecture by Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 42, adopted by all subsequent eds. In B only <e> for <æ> is visible, but the hook ‘e᷎’ was likely lost in the split above the letter. — [2, 6] gramr ‘king’: The same noun appears, unusually, as base-word of a Christ-kenning in each helmingr, each time in the second l. Of Christ in the context of the Harrowing, the choice is also somewhat odd; deriving from the adj. gramr ‘angry, hostile’, the pl. is often used substantively of ‘fiends’ (cf. djöfla rann, l. 4), the very beings his radiance overcomes. — [5, 6, 7] leysti ... allan sinn lýð ‘freed all his people’: Cf. the late medieval Niðurstigningsvísur 35/6 leyste alla lydi sin and þu leyster alla lydi 37/3 (ÍM I.2, 234). — [5] sönnu ‘in truth, truly’: Restoration based upon 399a-bˣ, including superscript notation; either <o> (<o᷎>) or <e> is possible from the remnants. — [6] sólhallar ‘of the sun’s hall’: In B lower tips of possible long <s> and <l> remain; Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 42) suggests sólhallar, which all have accepted. ‘Sun’ + ‘building’ is a common kenning type for ‘heaven’. — [7] fyr lífstré ‘by means of the tree of life’: Tree of life (arbor vitae) is ubiquitous in reference to the Cross. The instrumentality of the Cross at the Harrowing is also a common iconographic detail. In Niðrst1 I. 7-8, e.g., after Christ has broken down the portals of hell, the liberated captives tell Satan that it is fyrer crosstre ‘by means of the cross-tree’ that he has been vanquished, and Adam praises Christ for rescuing them with his might and with the marki cross ‘sign of the cross’ (Hms II, 6-7). The late medieval Krosskvæði 26/3-4 echoes this idea: ok i hendi bar | sigrmerki sitt ‘and he bore in his hand his victory-sign’ at the Harrowing (ÍM I.2, 281). The prep. fyr also introduces the instrumentality of the Cross in 31/6 where it is by means of the Cross that Christ opened heaven for mankind. — [8] líknarstyrkr ... frá myrkrum ‘mercy-strong ... from darkness’: Cf. Leið 31/8, also of the Harrowing.

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