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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

III. Málsháttakvæði (Mhkv) - 30

not in Skj

5: Málsháttakvæði (‘Proverb poem’) — Anon MhkvIII

Roberta Frank 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Málsháttakvæði’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1213.

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Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: A. [1]. Málsháttakvæði, Et orknøsk(?) digt, omkr. 1200. (AII, 130-6, BII, 138-45)

SkP info: III, 1235

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — Anon Mhkv 21III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 21’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1235.

Yndit láta engir falt;
allopt verðr í hreggi svalt;
andaðs dr*úpa minjar mest;
magran skyldi kaupa hest.
Œrit þykkir viðkvæm vá;
vinfengin ’ró misjǫfn þá;
fasthaldr varð á Fenri lagðr;
fíkjum var mér ramligr sagðr.

Engir láta yndit falt; allopt verðr svalt í hreggi; minjar andaðs dr*úpa mest; skyldi kaupa magran hest. Vá þykkir œrit viðkvæm; vinfengin ’ró þá misjǫfn; fasthaldr varð lagðr á Fenri; var mér sagðr fíkjum ramligr.

None puts his love up for sale; very often it becomes cool in a storm; memories of a dead man droop the most; one should buy a lean horse. Woe seems tangible enough; friendships are unequal then; a fetter was laid on Fenrir; I was told it was hugely strong.

Mss: R(55r)

Readings: [1] Yndit: ‘Vndit’ R, ‘Yndit’ RFJ    [3] dr*úpa: drjúpa R    [6] vinfengin: vinfegin R

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], A. [1]. Málsháttakvæði 21: AII, 134, BII, 143, Skald II, 77, NN §2581D; Möbius 1874, 9, Wisén 1886-9, I, 75.

Notes: [1]: For similar proverbs, see Ísl. Málsh.: auður (1). — [1] engir láta yndit falt ‘none puts his love up for sale’: Yndi lit. means ‘happiness, bliss’ and by extension ‘love’. The subject (engir) as well as the finite verb (láta lit. ‘let’) are in the pl. — [2] allopt ‘very often’: The word is attested in poetry only here. — [3] dr*úpa ‘droop’: Drúpa means ‘droop or bow down (in sorrow)’. The emendation (from drjúpa) was first suggested by Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, II, 141). Drúpa, not found in later Icelandic, was sometimes confused with the (overlapping in sense) verb drjúpa ‘drip, hang one’s head’; see Anon Sól 39/3VII. The sense of the proverb is disputed, with suggestions ranging from ‘memories of the dead fade fast’ (NN §2581D) to ‘memorials for the dead man keep his memory most alive’ (Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, II, 141; Skj B). — [4]: Cf. Hávm 83/3 (NK 30): (scal) magran mar kaupa ‘one should buy a lean horse’. — [6] vinfengin ‘friendships’: The n. noun vinfengi with cliticised def. art. The ms. has vinfegin lit. ‘friend-happy’, which cannot be construed to make any sense in the context. The emendation was first suggested by Jón Sigurðsson (Möbius 1874, 9 n.). — [6] ’ró ‘are’: See Note to st. 20/1. — [7] fasthaldr ‘a fetter’: This word is also used as a noun to denote a part of a ship in ms. A of SnE (SnE 1848-87, II, 494); otherwise it is only attested as an adj. with the meaning ‘steady, firm, stingy’. — [7] Fenri ‘Fenrir’: Name of the wolf, enemy of the gods, fettered by the Æsir until the end of the world. Gylf (SnE 2005, 25, 27-8) describes the glee of all the gods but Týr on learning that the fetter Gleipnir worked. Fenrir breaking his fetter signals the onset of Ragnarǫk: cf. Vsp 44/3-4 and 49/3-4 (NK 10-11): festr mun slitna, | enn freki renna ‘the fetter will break and the wolf run free’. — [8] fíkjum ‘hugely’: The dat. pl. of the adj. fíkr ‘eager, greedy’ is sometimes used as an adv. modifying an adj., as here and in Bjbp Jóms 12/6I, 26/8I and 41/6I (LP: fíkr; CVC: fíkjum). The speaker’s folksy aside – ‘I was told it was hugely strong’ – seems ingenuous, intended to provoke a smile. — [8] var ‘was’: The pron. hann ‘he’ (R: var hann) is extrametrical and has been deleted.

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