Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Heildr 2VII l. 4

brunni — spring


brunnr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i; -ar): spring, well



[4] brunni lífsins ‘spring of life’: This is one of a cluster of metaphors characterising the Holy Spirit as a spring or river. Compare brunnr miskunnar ‘spring of mercy’ in 8/4, eilífr ok heilagr brunnr ‘eternal and holy spring’ in 12/6, and brunnr vits ‘spring of wisdom’ in 16/2. Such epithets are widespread in medieval devotional literature and hymnody, and their ultimate source is undoubtedly biblical. Brunnr lífsins appears to be a calque on Jer. II.13, where God describes himself as fons aquae vitae ‘the fountain of the water of life’. The image of God as the source of life-restoring water is one of the most common biblical metaphors, perhaps the most common occurrences of which are Ezekiel’s vision of the river of life (Ezek. XLVII.1-12), S. John’s parallel vision of the crystal-clear river in Rev. XXII.1-2, and Christ’s claim to be the source of life-giving water in John IV.14.



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