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, 266-8

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34 — Anon Líkn 34VII

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Cite as: George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 34’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 266-8.

Stigi nefniz þú stafna
stálfríðundum smíði
traustr af tvennrar ástar
— tek ek minni þess — kinnum.
Framm kemr hverr á himna
hræskóðs ok fær góða
stétt, þá er stig þín hittir,
styrjar lundr af grundu.

Þú nefniz stigi, traustr af kinnum tvennrar ástar, smíði stafna {stálfríðundum}; ek tek minni þess. Hverr {lundr {styrjar {hræskóðs}}} kemr framm ok fær góða stétt af grundu á himna, þá er hittir þín stig.

You are called a ladder, trusty on account of side-poles of twofold love, a smith-work of stems {for prow-adorners} [SEAFARERS]; I take remembrance of this. Each {tree {of the tumult {of the corpse-scathe}}} [WEAPON > BATTLE > WARRIOR] advances and receives a good pathway from the earth to the heavens, when he gains your steps.

Mss: B(12r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [3] traustr: ‘trau[...]r’ B, traụṣṭṛ 399a‑bˣ    [6] góða: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘g[...]da’ B

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], C. 1. Líknarbraut 34: AII, 156, BII, 169, Skald II, 89, NN §1395; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 45-6, Rydberg 1907, 17, 51, Tate 1974, 79.

Notes: [All]: The dominant image of the st., the Cross as ladder, is an exegetical commonplace deriving from commentary on Jacob’s vision of a ladder extending to heaven (Gen. XXVIII.12-13). E.g., in a sermon that circulated under Augustine’s authority in the Middle Ages, Caesarius of Arles (C6th) writes: Scala ipsa usque ad caelos attingens, crucis figuram habuit ‘The ladder itself extending to the heavens held the figure of the Cross’ (Sermo 87 in Morin 1953, 360; cf. Classis prima, auctor incertus [Augustinus Hipponensis?], col. 1761). The connection of Jacob’s ladder with the Cross also occurs in the late medieval Icel. Gimsteinn 102/5-03/4 (ÍM I.2, 327). Medieval commentators often gloss the parts of the ladder – e.g., the side-poles or stiles (latera) as Christ’s two natures, the two Testaments, etc. The probable source for kinnum tvennrar ástar ‘side-poles of twofold love’ (ll. 3-4), i.e. love of God and neighbour (Matt. XXII.37-9), is Honorius Augustodunensis (C12th), who was known in Iceland mainly through his Eluc and Gemma animae, both of which were translated into ON. In his sermon on Quinquagesima Sunday in Speculum ecclesiae, and again in Scala coeli minor, Honorius allegorises the parts of a ladder of love which is clearly the Cross. Of the side-poles he writes: Hujus scalae vero latera sunt geminae dilectionis, Dei scilicet et proximi dilectio ‘The side-poles of this ladder are indeed twofold love, i.e. love of God and neighbour’ (cols 869 and 1239). An analogue (noted by Paasche 1914a, 130) is in the Icel. homily on the Cross, which allegorises the arms of the Cross as óst viþ goþ oc meɴ ‘love for God and men’ (HómÍsl 1993, 17v; HómÍsl 1872, 38; cf. HómNo, 104). Árni Jónsson later borrows several details from Líkn for his GdIV, including the ‘ladder of twofold love’ elsku tvennrar stigi (72/6-7); see Tate 1978-9. — [2-3] smíði stafna stálfríðundum ‘a smith-work of prows for stem-adorners [SEAFARERS]’: The nautical image looks back to the Cross as ship in the preceding st. Probably because the phrase seems to refer twice to the same thing – according to LP: stafn and stál can both mean prow – Skj B emends to stafna stóðríðǫndum ‘for riders of prow-horses [SHIPS > SEAFARERS]’ (cf. LP: stálfríðandi), a change NN §1395 rejects, arguing that stál is part of, not synonymous with, stafn. This distinction is confirmed by Falk 1912, 36 and 84; stál is the rising keel beam or beak of the prow, stafn the stem, or prow deck. Cf. Jesch 2001a, 145 and 150, who observes that stafn is the generic term for either end of a viking ship and cites skaldic examples supporting Falk’s interpretation of stál as the stem-post of the prow or fore-stem. Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 45, followed by Rydberg 1907, 51, combines stál with smíði by means of tmesis: i.e., ‘a steel/sturdy [firmissima] structure for adorners of prows’ (LP (1860): stál-smiði). The interpretation here accords with a suggestion of Edith Marold, that images of the Cross might have decorated the prows of Scandinavian ships; thus the Cross could be described as smíði stafna ‘a smith-work of prows’ for sailors who used it to decorate their ships, so ‘stem-adorners’ (stálfríðundum). — [3] traustr ‘trusty’: Restoration based upon 399a-bˣ, supported by skothending. The m. sg. adj. modifies stigi ‘ladder’. Though Skj A acknowledges the trace of <r> in a note, it is not included in the diplomatic text; hence Skj B and Skald emend unnecessarily to n. traust for agreement with smíði ‘smith-work’, construed here as appositive. — [4] tek ek: Skj B and Skald emend to cliticised pret. tókk. — [4] kinnum (dat. pl.) ‘side-poles’: Lit. ‘cheeks’. This is the only ON occurrence of kinn ‘cheek’ in this sense, though it (and more commonly its derivative kinnungr) is used of a ship’s bow (Fritzner: kinnungr 2). The underlying idea seems to be ‘cheeks’ as parallel (or converging) members, whether side-poles (stiles) of a ladder or forward gunwales of a ship. (Cf. the synonym hlýr ‘cheek’, used metaphorically of sides of axe, blade, or ship’s bow, and, with respect to the last, Jesch 2001a, 147 construes hlýr as ‘imagining the ship as a face seen head-on’. — [6, 8] lundr styrjar hræskóðs ‘tree of corpse-scathe’s tumult [BATTLE > WEAPON > WARRIOR]’: The weapon-kenning hraeskóð (not so much something that harms corpses but a scathe that makes corpses of men) occurs also in the primary ms. of Hfr Óldr 4/2I, with a variant reading hjálmskóð ‘helmet-scathe’, which Skj B accepts for Hfr while allowing hræskóð to stand in Líkn. Perhaps extrapolating from the variant in Hfr, Skald emends Líkn also to hjálmskóð, overturning the evidence of primary mss of two different poems. (Cf. analogous valskóð ‘slaughter scathe’ in GOdds Lv 4/2IV.) The conflation of ‘tumult’ (styrr) and ‘tree’ (lundr) recalls the imagery of ‘din-trees’ (gnýviðir) in 16/7. — [6] góða ‘good’: Restoration of <ó> based upon 399a-bˣ, confirmed by rhyme. — [7] þín stig ‘your steps’: The only occurrence of stig in poetry; Skald, construing acc. sg. of stigr m. ‘pathway’, emends þín to þinn.

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