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Runic Dictionary

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Anonymous Poems (Anon)

III. Málsháttakvæði (Mhkv) - 30

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

Roberta Frank 2017, ‘ 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. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1029> (accessed 25 September 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30 

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

SkP info: III, 1238

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

25 — Anon Mhkv 25III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Roberta Frank (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Málsháttakvæði 25’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1238.

Sjaldan hittisk feigs vǫk frørin;
fljóðin verða at ǫldrum kørin;
lengi hefr þat lýst fyr mér:
lítinn kost á margr und sér.
Sagt er frá, hvé neflauss narir;
nú verðr sumt, þat er mangi varir;
væri betr, at þegðak þoks;
þat hefr hverr, er verðr er, loks.

Sjaldan hittisk vǫk feigs frørin; fljóðin verða kørin at ǫldrum; lengi hefr þat lýst fyr mér: margr á lítinn kost und sér. Sagt er frá, hvé neflauss narir; nú verðr sumt, þat er mangi varir; væri betr, at þegðak þoks; hverr hefr loks þat, er verðr er.

Seldom is a doomed man’s ice-hole found frozen; women are chosen at drinking parties; that has long been clear to me: many a one has little in his power. It is related how a noseless person languishes; now comes something that no one expects; it would be far better that I should be silent; each gets what he deserves in the end.

Mss: R(55r)

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], A. [1]. Málsháttakvæði 25: AII, 135, BII, 144, Skald II, 77, NN §3155; Möbius 1874, 11, Wisén 1886-9, I, 76.

Notes: [1]: Cf. Fáfn 11/6 (NK 182) alt er feigs forað ‘all is dangerous for the doomed man’; for parallels to this proverb in other Old Norse texts, see Ísl. Málsh.: feigur, feigð and Anon Sól 36/6VII frammi eru feigs götur ‘the doomed man’s roads lead away’. The sense here is that if a man is fated to drown in an ice-hole, the hole will not freeze over but be there waiting for him. — [2] at ǫldrum ‘at drinking parties’: So Möbius (1874), Wisén (1886-9, I), NN §3155, but LP: aldr and Skj B interpret this as ‘according to their age’. Eddic poetry associates choosing women and alcoholic beverages: see HHj 32/3-6 (NK 147) ec hefi kerna | ina konungborno, | brúði þína, | at bragarfulli ‘I have chosen the royal descended one, your bride, at the drinking cup’. Ǫldr designates a drinking party in Hávm 13/2; Sigrdr 28/1-3 warns men about the dangers presented by beautiful women on the hall-benches. The notion of choosing a bride over the ale cup is central to the poem immediately preceding Mhkv in R, Bjbp Jóms 14/5-6, 8I. Bugge (1896b, 6) thought it possible that Mhkv was here playing on HHj. — [5] neflauss ‘a noseless person’: Taken here (with Möbius 1874, 69 and Skj B) as a cpd nef- ‘nose’ plus -lauss ‘less’, while Wisén (1886-9, II, 211) interprets the cpd neflauss as ‘one without relatives’ (nefi ‘kinsman’ plus -lauss). There are references to noseless men and women in Strengleikar and Hauksbók (see Fritzner: neflauss citations), as if this condition held some interest for the medieval North. — [6]: Cf. Anon Sól 8/4-5VII margan þat sækir, | er minst of varir ‘what he least expects comes upon many a man’; Orkneyinga saga (Orkn ch. 30, ÍF 34, 77): margan hendir þat, er minnst varir ‘what he least expects happens to many a man’; Grettis saga (Gr ch. 14, ÍF 7, 41): Verðr þat, er varir, ok svá hitt, er eigi varir ‘The expected happens and the unexpected too’. — [7] þoks ‘far’: The perfect eye-rhyme (þoks : loks) of the ms. is lost when the noun is normalised to ‘correct’ þokks; see LP: þokkr ‘mind, disposition’ and cf. Anon Has 13/6VII þokka ... betri ‘considerably better’. It is quite likely that the geminate in þokks had been shortened before another consonant (-kks >  ‑ks) at this point (see ANG §284).

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