Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut, 40 [Vol. 7, 275-6]

[1]: The consonance of líkn ‘grace’ and lækn- ‘heal’ calls attention to their conceptual relationship, for it is through grace that healing is effected. (On Christ as læknir ‘healer’ see 31/3.) The subject of læknar is ambiguous, either líkn ‘mercy’ or the implied 2nd pers. þú ‘you’ (ms. veittu), but the tradition of the Cross as healer or medicine makes the latter perhaps more likely. In this st., the poet continues to draw upon the Icel. homily De sancta cruce (HómÍsl 1993, 18r; HómÍsl 1872, 39; cf. HómNo, 105), in which the Cross is called læcning viþ sóttom ‘a cure/medicine for illnesses’; cf. AH 8, 24 where the Cross is medicina corporalis / christianis et mentalis ‘physical and spiritual medicine for Christians’. These ideas probably depend upon Num. XXI.9, in which the brazen serpent with its healing power is a type of the Crucifixion; cf. Veraldar saga’s allegorical reading: Eitrormr sa er i tre hieck er hver vard heill er til leit. merkir Jesvm Christvm hanganda a krossinvm, er græder oll sär anda vora ‘The brazen serpent which hung on the wood, as each one was healed who looked upon it, signifies Jesus Christ hanging on the Cross, who heals all the wounds of our souls’ (Jakob Benediktsson 1944, 84).

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