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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Heil 3VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra manna drápa 3’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 875.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra manna drápa

text and translation

Hræra niðr í heilasárið
hodda vers með sverða oddum
hræðiliga og hreyttu síðan
hrygð vinnandi um musterið innan,
megandi sjá, hvar mátti laugaz
móðir skær í sonarins blóði;
tíguligr með tvieföldum sigri
Tómas skínn í drottins blóma.

Hræðiliga hræra með sverða oddum niðr í heilasárið {vers hodda} og hreyttu síðan vinnandi hrygð um musterið innan, megandi sjá hvar skær móðir mátti laugaz í blóði sonarins tíguligr Tómas skínn með tvieföldum sigri í blóma drottins.
‘Horribly [they] twist with swords’ points down into the brain-wound of the man of treasures [TREASURE GUARDIAN] and then threw [the cerebral substance] away, causing grief within the cathedral, being able to see where the bright mother could be bathed in the blood of the son; the magnificent Thomas shines with a two-fold victory in the glory of the Lord.

notes and context

The detail that Thomas’s brains were spilled on the cathedral floor is found in a number of the prose lives (Unger 1869, 262, 442; Eiríkur Magnússon 1875-83, I, 546). The rather macabre interest of this st. in Thomas’s wound finds a parallel in Þorgils saga skarða, where Þorgils, who asked to have Thómas saga read to him on the evening before he died (1258), is said to have suffered the same fatal wound as S. Thomas did (Stu 1906-11, II, 295, 298). — [5-6]: Presumably these ll. allude to the fear and sorrow of the cathedral monks (watching the killing from a safe distance), concerned that the altar, dedicated to the Virgin, where Becket prayed immediately before the attack, could be stained with his blood, as in fact happened (cf. Unger 1869, 260, 441; Eiríkur Magnússon 1875-83, I, 542). Megandi sjá hvar ‘being able to see where’ presumably assumes the cathedral monks as the unstated subject of the pres. part. megandi.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: [Anonyme digte og vers XIV], [B. 10]. Af et digt om hellige mænd 3: AII, 512, BII, 563, Skald II, 308, NN §§1541, 2890; Kahle 1898, 91, 112.


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