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

Á norna stóli        sat ek níu daga;
        þaðan var ek á hest hafinn;
gýgjar sólir        skinu grimmliga
        ór skýdrúpnis skýjum.

Ek sat níu daga á stóli norna; þaðan var ek hafinn á hest; sólir gýgjar skinu grimmliga ór skýjum skýdrúpnis.

I sat for nine days on the norns’ seat; from there I was lifted onto a horse; the ogress’s suns shone fiercely out of the cloud-lowerer’s clouds.

Mss: 166bˣ(47v), papp15ˣ(5r-v), 738ˣ(82r), 214ˣ(151r), 1441ˣ(585), 10575ˣ(7v), 2797ˣ(235)

Readings: [1] stóli: so papp15ˣ, 738ˣ, 214ˣ, 1441ˣ, 10575ˣ, 2797ˣ, stól 166bˣ    [4, 5] sólir skinu: sól er skein papp15ˣ, 10575ˣ, 2797ˣ    [6] skýdrúpnis: so 2797ˣ, skýdripnis 166bˣ, papp15ˣ, 214ˣ, 10575ˣ, ‘skyd dripnis’ 738ˣ, ‘skýdeipnis’ 1441ˣ;    skýjum: ‘skirmi’ papp15ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 635, Skj BI, 643, Skald I, 313, NN §2564B; Bugge 1867, 365, Falk 1914, 20, Björn M. Ólsen 1915, 17, Fidjestøl 1979, 67, Njörður Njarðvík 1991, 80-1, Njörður Njarðvík 1993, 57, 126.

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. — [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. — [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. — [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). — [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.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  5. Fidjestøl, Bjarne, ed. 1979a. Sólarljóð: Tydning og Tolkningsgrunnlag. Nordisk Instituts skrifteserie 4. Bergen, Oslo and Tromsø: Universitetsforlaget.
  6. Björn Magnússon Ólsen, ed. 1915a. Sólarljóð: gefin út með skíringum og athugasemdum. Safn til sögu Íslands og íslenzkra bókmenta 5.1. Reykjavík: Prentsmiðja Gutenberg.
  7. Bugge, Sophus, ed. 1867. Norrœn fornkvæði. Islandsk samling af folkelige oldtidsdigte om nordens guder og heroer. Almindelig kaldet Sæmundar Edda hins frøda. Christiania (Oslo): Malling. Rpt. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget 1965.
  8. Falk, Hjalmar, ed. 1914a. Sólarljóð. Videnskapsselskapets skrifter II. Hist.-filos. kl. 7. 2 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  9. Njörður P. Njarðvik, ed. 1991. Sólarljóð. Útgáfa og umfjöllun. Íslensk Rit 10. Reykjavík: Bókmenntafræðistofnun Háskóla Íslands og Menningarsjóður.
  10. Njörður P. Njarðvik. 1993. Solsången. Akademisk avhandling för filosofiedoktorsexamen i nordiska språk. Göteborgs universitet: Institutionen för svensk språket.
  11. ÍF 4 = Eyrbyggja saga. Ed. Einar Ólafur Sveinsson and Matthías Þórðarson. 1935.
  12. Paasche, Fredrik. 1914. Kristendom og kvad: En studie i norrøn middelalder. Christiania (Oslo): Aschehoug. Rpt. in Paasche 1948, 29-212.
  13. SnE 1982 = Snorri Sturluson. 1982. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1988. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  14. Paasche, Fredrik. 1948. Hedenskap og kristendom: Studier i norrøn middelalder. Oslo: Aschehoug.
  15. Internal references
  16. Not published: do not cite (EbV)
  17. Not published: do not cite ()
  18. Not published: do not cite ()
  19. Not published: do not cite ()
  20. Not published: do not cite ()

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