Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut, 22 [Vol. 7, 252-3]

[7] fyr lífstré ‘by means of the tree of life’: Tree of life (arbor vitae) is ubiquitous in reference to the Cross. The instrumentality of the Cross at the Harrowing is also a common iconographic detail. In Niðrst1 I. 7-8, e.g., after Christ has broken down the portals of hell, the liberated captives tell Satan that it is fyrer crosstre ‘by means of the cross-tree’ that he has been vanquished, and Adam praises Christ for rescuing them with his might and with the marki cross ‘sign of the cross’ (Hms II, 6-7). The late medieval Krosskvæði 26/3-4 echoes this idea: ok i hendi bar | sigrmerki sitt ‘and he bore in his hand his victory-sign’ at the Harrowing (ÍM I.2, 281). The prep. fyr also introduces the instrumentality of the Cross in 31/6 where it is by means of the Cross that Christ opened heaven for mankind.

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