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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Vitn 23VII

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Vitnisvísur af Máríu 23’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 755-6.

Anonymous PoemsVitnisvísur af Máríu

Runnu ríkamanni
reiðimál og eiðar;
beiðir giekk við brúðar
borða hverju orði.
Lýsti ljúfliga ástir
lundur silkigrundar
auðs, og unni síðan
ágætt víf sem lífi.

Reiðimál og eiðar runnu ríkamanni; {beiðir borða} giekk við hverju orði brúðar. {Lundur auðs} lýsti ljúfliga ástir {silkigrundar}, og ágætt víf unni síðan sem lífi.

The wrathful speech and the oaths left the powerful man; {the demander of shields} [WARRIOR] admitted to the woman’s every word. {The tree of wealth} [MAN] fondly declared love [lit. loves] {for the silk-ground} [WOMAN], and the famous lady later loved [him] like her own life.

Mss: 713(85), 721(12v)

Readings: [4] borða: borð á 721    [5] ljúfliga: ‘v[...]líga’ 721;    ástir: so 721, ástum 713    [6] silkigrundar: om. 721

Editions: Skj AII, 486, Skj BII, 525, Skald II, 288; NN §§1677C, 2861; Kahle 1898, 54-5, 103, Sperber 1911, 28, 72-3, Wrightson 2001, 38.

Notes: [7] unni (3rd pers. sg. pret. indic.) ‘loved’: Unna ‘love’ takes the dat., and the object ‘him’ is understood. It may seem incongruous that the woman should love the man who had rejected her; rather, we should expect her to be the object of his affections. However, ágætt víf ‘famous lady’ is in the nom. or acc., so such an interpretation is impossible. Skald emends ágætt víf to ágæts vífs (n. gen. sg.) ‘of the famous female’ and treats it as a parallel construction to silkigrundar ‘of the silk-ground [WOMAN]’ (l. 6).


  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. Sperber, Hans, ed. 1911. Sechs isländische Gedichte legendarischen Inhalts. Uppsala Universitets årsskrift, filosofi, språkvetenskap och historiska vetenskaper 2. Uppsala: Akademische Buchdruckerei Edv. Berling.
  5. Wrightson, Kellinde, ed. 2001. Fourteenth-Century Icelandic Verse on the Virgin Mary: Drápa af Maríugrát, Vitnisvísur af Maríu, Maríuvísur I-III. Viking Society for Northern Research Text Series 14. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  6. Kahle, Bernhard, ed. 1898. Isländische geistliche Dichtungen des ausgehenden Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter.

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