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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Sól 51VII

Carolyne Larrington and Peter Robinson (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Sólarljóð 51’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 331-2.

Anonymous PoemsSólarljóð
505152

Á ‘on’

3. á (prep.): on, at

notes

[1] á stóli norna ‘on the norns’ seat’: 166bˣ has stól in error for stóli. The norns are pagan figures who determine fate, cf. Vsp 20, SnE 1982 18-19, though they are not normally associated with a seat. The throne of judgement is a Christian image; thus, as with other syncretic ideas in the poem, such as the dísir in 25/1, the poet has translated a Christian concept into its imagined pagan equivalent. However Óðinn’s high-seat Hliðskjálf (Skí prose; Grí prose; SnE 1982, 13) permits a view into other worlds. Hávm 138 tells of Óðinn’s sacrifice hanging on the World-Tree, Yggdrasill ‘Steed of the Terrifying One’ which brings him occult knowledge. For Falk (1914a, 29) and Paasche (1914a, 183) the nine days on the norns’ seat refers back to the narrator’s sickness, an explanation with which Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 80) concurs. However as Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 46-9) objects, the fatal illness is concluded in st. 45. He argues that Nornastóll is a mountain-name, and refers to the soul’s sojourn in purgatorial fires, situated on a peak in the Other World. Since in st. 46 the narrator has apparently been born into the next world, it seems likely that the period on the seat is a transitional time of waiting in the next world, though not necessarily spent in Purgatory.

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norna ‘the norns’’

norn (noun f.; °; -ir): norn

notes

[1] á stóli norna ‘on the norns’ seat’: 166bˣ has stól in error for stóli. The norns are pagan figures who determine fate, cf. Vsp 20, SnE 1982 18-19, though they are not normally associated with a seat. The throne of judgement is a Christian image; thus, as with other syncretic ideas in the poem, such as the dísir in 25/1, the poet has translated a Christian concept into its imagined pagan equivalent. However Óðinn’s high-seat Hliðskjálf (Skí prose; Grí prose; SnE 1982, 13) permits a view into other worlds. Hávm 138 tells of Óðinn’s sacrifice hanging on the World-Tree, Yggdrasill ‘Steed of the Terrifying One’ which brings him occult knowledge. For Falk (1914a, 29) and Paasche (1914a, 183) the nine days on the norns’ seat refers back to the narrator’s sickness, an explanation with which Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 80) concurs. However as Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 46-9) objects, the fatal illness is concluded in st. 45. He argues that Nornastóll is a mountain-name, and refers to the soul’s sojourn in purgatorial fires, situated on a peak in the Other World. Since in st. 46 the narrator has apparently been born into the next world, it seems likely that the period on the seat is a transitional time of waiting in the next world, though not necessarily spent in Purgatory.

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stóli ‘seat’

1. stóll (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i/-; -ar): seat, throne

[1] stóli: so papp15ˣ, 738ˣ, 214ˣ, 1441ˣ, 10575ˣ, 2797ˣ, stól 166bˣ

notes

[1] á stóli norna ‘on the norns’ seat’: 166bˣ has stól in error for stóli. The norns are pagan figures who determine fate, cf. Vsp 20, SnE 1982 18-19, though they are not normally associated with a seat. The throne of judgement is a Christian image; thus, as with other syncretic ideas in the poem, such as the dísir in 25/1, the poet has translated a Christian concept into its imagined pagan equivalent. However Óðinn’s high-seat Hliðskjálf (Skí prose; Grí prose; SnE 1982, 13) permits a view into other worlds. Hávm 138 tells of Óðinn’s sacrifice hanging on the World-Tree, Yggdrasill ‘Steed of the Terrifying One’ which brings him occult knowledge. For Falk (1914a, 29) and Paasche (1914a, 183) the nine days on the norns’ seat refers back to the narrator’s sickness, an explanation with which Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 80) concurs. However as Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 46-9) objects, the fatal illness is concluded in st. 45. He argues that Nornastóll is a mountain-name, and refers to the soul’s sojourn in purgatorial fires, situated on a peak in the Other World. Since in st. 46 the narrator has apparently been born into the next world, it seems likely that the period on the seat is a transitional time of waiting in the next world, though not necessarily spent in Purgatory.

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níu ‘for nine’

níu (num. cardinal): nine

notes

[2] níu daga ‘for nine days’: The number nine is significant in Norse myth (there are nine worlds according to Vsp 2; nine nights in Hávm 138 and in Skí 39, 41). Seven is, in contrast, a Christian number: 52/3 makes reference to seven victory-worlds sigrheima sjau; see Note to 32/3.

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daga ‘days’

dagr (noun m.; °-s, dat. degi/dag/dagi(Thom¹ 332¹‡n.); -ar): day

notes

[2] níu daga ‘for nine days’: The number nine is significant in Norse myth (there are nine worlds according to Vsp 2; nine nights in Hávm 138 and in Skí 39, 41). Seven is, in contrast, a Christian number: 52/3 makes reference to seven victory-worlds sigrheima sjau; see Note to 32/3.

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þaðan ‘from there’

þaðan (adv.): from there

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á ‘onto’

3. á (prep.): on, at

notes

[3] hafinn á hest ‘lifted onto a horse’: For Paasche (1948, 184) the ride on the horse is part of the corpse’s journey to the grave; Falk (1914a, 30) envisages a horse in the Other World which conducts the soul further on its journey, even though no horse is mentioned subsequently. Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 49) emends to hæst ‘highest’; the narrator is lifted onto the highest peak of the mountain Nornastóll.

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hest ‘a horse’

hestr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i; -ar): horse, stallion

notes

[3] hafinn á hest ‘lifted onto a horse’: For Paasche (1948, 184) the ride on the horse is part of the corpse’s journey to the grave; Falk (1914a, 30) envisages a horse in the Other World which conducts the soul further on its journey, even though no horse is mentioned subsequently. Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 49) emends to hæst ‘highest’; the narrator is lifted onto the highest peak of the mountain Nornastóll.

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hafinn ‘lifted’

hefja (verb): lift, start

notes

[3] hafinn á hest ‘lifted onto a horse’: For Paasche (1948, 184) the ride on the horse is part of the corpse’s journey to the grave; Falk (1914a, 30) envisages a horse in the Other World which conducts the soul further on its journey, even though no horse is mentioned subsequently. Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 49) emends to hæst ‘highest’; the narrator is lifted onto the highest peak of the mountain Nornastóll.

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gýgjar ‘the ogress’s’

gýgr (noun f.): troll-woman

notes

[4] sólir gýgjar ‘the ogress’s suns’: Falk (1914a, 30), assumes this periphrasis refers to the moon, taking sg. for pl. as Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 81) notes. Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 49) argues for an underworld sun, similar to the urðarmáni ‘fate-moon’ of Eyrbyggja saga ch. 52 (ÍF 4, 146).

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sólir ‘suns’

sól (noun f.; °-ar, dat. -u/-; -ir): sun

[4, 5] sólir skinu: sól er skein papp15ˣ, 10575ˣ, 2797ˣ

notes

[4] sólir gýgjar ‘the ogress’s suns’: Falk (1914a, 30), assumes this periphrasis refers to the moon, taking sg. for pl. as Njörður Njarðvík (1991, 81) notes. Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 49) argues for an underworld sun, similar to the urðarmáni ‘fate-moon’ of Eyrbyggja saga ch. 52 (ÍF 4, 146).

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skinu ‘shone’

skína (verb): shine

[4, 5] sólir skinu: sól er skein papp15ˣ, 10575ˣ, 2797ˣ

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ský ‘the cloud’

ský (noun n.; °-s; -): cloud < skýdrúpnir (noun m.)

[6] skýdrúpnis: so 2797ˣ, skýdripnis 166bˣ, papp15ˣ, 214ˣ, 10575ˣ, ‘skyd dripnis’ 738ˣ, ‘skýdeipnis’ 1441ˣ

notes

[6] skýdrúpnis ‘of the cloud-lowerer’: Hap. leg., presumably a periphrasis for the heavily overcast sky (cf. LP: skýdrúpnir). Though the form of 166bˣ occurs in 38 mss in total, dripnir is unknown outside the poem. Four mss give drúpnis from drúpa ‘to bow one’s head, to lower’, usually as a sign of sorrow, see st. 39/3. The repetition of ský- and skýjum is clumsy; while skýjum is unmetrical (with a trochaic final foot to the full l., a practice this poet avoids elsewhere), it is found almost universally across the tradition. Papp15ˣ and related mss try to avoid this repetition with ‘skirmi’, not otherwise attested.

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drúpnis ‘lowerer’s’

drúpnir (noun m.): [lowerer] < skýdrúpnir (noun m.)

[6] skýdrúpnis: so 2797ˣ, skýdripnis 166bˣ, papp15ˣ, 214ˣ, 10575ˣ, ‘skyd dripnis’ 738ˣ, ‘skýdeipnis’ 1441ˣ

notes

[6] skýdrúpnis ‘of the cloud-lowerer’: Hap. leg., presumably a periphrasis for the heavily overcast sky (cf. LP: skýdrúpnir). Though the form of 166bˣ occurs in 38 mss in total, dripnir is unknown outside the poem. Four mss give drúpnis from drúpa ‘to bow one’s head, to lower’, usually as a sign of sorrow, see st. 39/3. The repetition of ský- and skýjum is clumsy; while skýjum is unmetrical (with a trochaic final foot to the full l., a practice this poet avoids elsewhere), it is found almost universally across the tradition. Papp15ˣ and related mss try to avoid this repetition with ‘skirmi’, not otherwise attested.

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skýjum ‘clouds’

ský (noun n.; °-s; -): cloud

[6] skýjum: ‘skirmi’ papp15ˣ

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