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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, 233-4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Anon Líkn 4VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 4’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 233-4.

Þrifgæðir, lát, þjóðar,
þíns anda mér skína
ástarljós, sem ek æsti,
albjart í sal hjarta,
þat er misverka myrkrum,
munar, hrindi, svá blindi
míns, ór mælsku túni,
móðs vandliga hrjóði.

{Þrifgæðir þjóðar} lát albjart ástarljós þíns anda skína mér í {hjarta sal}, sem ek æsti, þat er hrjóði vandliga myrkrum misverka ór {mælsku túni}, hrindi svá blindi míns móðs munar.

{Prosperity-endower of the people} [= God (= Christ)], let the wholly radiant light of love of your spirit shine in my {heart’s hall} [BREAST], as I entreat that which may clear away completely the darkness of misdeeds from my {field of eloquence} [BREAST], [and] so drive out the blindness of my despondent mind.

Mss: B(11r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [7] lsku: ‘me᷎[...]ku’ B, ‘me[...]u’ corrected from ‘me[...]a’ 399a‑bˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], C. 1. Líknarbraut 4: AII, 151, BII, 161, Skald II, 85, NN §1386; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 36. Rydberg 1907, 12, 48, Tate 1974, 49.

Notes: [All]: The plea for divine light to dispel the soul’s darkness is a Psalmic motif (e.g. XVII.29 Deus meus, illumina tenebras meas ‘O my God, enlighten my darkness’) occurring also in liturgical hymns: e.g. Ambrose’s Aufer tenebras mentium ‘remove the darkness of our minds’ and Tu lux, refulge sensibus ‘You light, shine upon our senses’ (AH 51, 28 and 50, 10 respectively; cf. Brev. Nidr., fer iii ad mat., and off. dieb. ad laud., a.viii). — [1] Þrifgæðir ‘prosperity-endower [= God (= Christ)]’: This kenning can refer to God or Christ. See the etymology, among early fragments of Icel. Christian learning, Jesus þýdiz þrifgjafi eða græðari ‘Jesus means bounteous giver or healer’ (Þorvaldur Bjarnason 1878, 152). Þrifgjafi also occurs in the OIcel. Annunciation homily (HómÍsl 1993, 63v; HómÍsl 1872, 140); cf. þrifvaldr ‘prosperity-ruler’ Has 22/2. — [5-8]: The words of the helmingr can be (and have been) arranged in a variety of ways, depending upon which of several meanings are assigned to munar (l. 6) and móðs (l. 8) and whether ór mælsku túni is taken with the first or second cl. — [5] misverka ‘misdeeds’: Either gen. pl. of misverk n. or gen. sg. of misverki m. (so LP); the only occurrence of either in poetry. — [6] munar (gen. sg.) ‘mind’: The range of possible meanings of munr (‘mind, soul, desire, longing, will, love, object of love, difference’ etc.) makes w.o. and translation somewhat uncertain; cf. Has 3/4 munar grand ‘soul’s injury’. — [6] svá ‘thus’: Skj B emends to rel. pron. sem; NN §1386 objects but translates svá as liksom också ‘as well as’, a meaning no ON dictionary gives. Since B is a C14th ms., it is possible that there is an underlying deleted at (svá at = svá: see Introduction 9. Normalisation of Fourteenth-Century Poetry II. B. 3.) — [7] lsku túni ‘(hedged) enclosure, field of eloquence [BREAST]’: In a note on the lacuna in B, 399a-bˣ (Jón Sigurðsson) conjectures ‘me᷎lzku’ (revised from ‘me᷎rðar’), which all eds have adopted. Guðrún Nordal 2001, 258 observes that mælska does not fit the typical pattern of determinants in chest-kennings and that it is ‘probably closer to the point to interpret [mælsku tún] as mouth’. (Cf. Meissner, 136 who, while construing it as ‘breast’, acknowledges that it could by itself be a kenning for ‘mouth’.) This suggestion seems however less probable with reference to the context. While myrkrum misverka ‘darkness of misdeeds’ (l. 5) could refer back to sins of the tongue in st. 2, it seems less likely that the poet is here praying to have his mouth cleansed than to have his heart purified. This is especially true because of the counterbalancing of two kennings – one in each helmingr – for the same locus. Surely it is the darkness now residing in his mælsku tún ‘enclosure of eloquence [BREAST]’ which he prays to have cleared away as light infuses his sal hjarta ‘hall of the heart [BREAST]’ (l. 4). The second element of the prayer, that the light clear away the blindi móðs munar ‘blindness of despondent mind’ (ll. 6, 8, 6), simply restates the entreaty of the first – that the darkness be driven from the poet’s breast (the seat of the mind). (See Note on lyndis láð ‘mind’s land [BREAST]’ at 5/3-4.) — [8] móðs (gen. sg. m.) ‘despondent’: Although construed here as adj. (following Skj B), móðr may also be taken as a noun: ‘mind, soul, passion, anger, worry’ (so LP (1860), Rydberg and NN §1386).

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