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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Vitn 25VII

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Vitnisvísur af Máríu 25’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 756-7.

Anonymous PoemsVitnisvísur af Máríu

Þú ert margföldust mildi
mjúklætis hásæti
grundin guðdóms anda
góð og Jésús móðir.
Brjóst eilífrar ástar,
óflekkuð, gaftu drekka,
full af fögnuð öllum,
frú mín, syni þínum.

Þú ert margföldust mildi, {hásæti mjúklætis}, góð grundin anda guðdóms, og {móðir Jésús}. Gaftu brjóst eilífrar ástar syni þínum drekka, óflekkuð frú mín, full af öllum fögnuð.

You are the most manifold mercy, {the high-seat of humility} [= Mary], virtuous land of the spirit of the Godhead and {mother of Jesus} [= Mary]. You gave the breast of eternal love to your son to drink, my unblemished lady, full of all joy.

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

Readings: [1] ‑földust: ‑faldrar 721    [3] ‑dóms: ‘do[...]’ 721    [4] Jésús: Jésú 721    [7] fögnuð: fagnað 721

Editions: Skj AII, 487, Skj BII, 525, Skald II, 288; NN §2862; Kahle 1898, 55, Sperber 1911, 29, Wrightson 2001, 39.

Notes: [2] hásæti mjúklætis ‘the high-seat of humility [= Mary]’: For designations of this type see Schottmann (1973, 54). — [3] grundin anda guðdóms ‘land of the spirit of the Godhead’: For this term, Lat. terra Domini ‘land of the Lord’, see Schottmann (1973, 48). — [5-8]: The interpretation of the second helmingr is ambiguous, because both brjóst (if n. acc. pl.) ‘breasts’ (l. 5) and frú (f. nom. sg.) ‘lady’ (l. 8) could technically be modified by the adjectives óflekkuð (n. acc. pl. or f. nom. sg.) ‘unblemished’ (l. 6) and full (n. acc. pl. or f. nom. sg.) ‘full’ (l. 7). In the present edn, brjóst (l. 5) is taken as the n. acc. sg. ‘breast’ and óflekkuð ‘unblemished’ (l. 6) modifies frú lady’ (l. 8) (= Virgo Immaculata). That is also the case with the phrase full af öllum fögnuð ‘full of all joy’. In Mar (1871, 27), for example, Mary is said to bear her son með fullum fagnaði ‘with full joy’. Skald lets all adjectives modify brjóst ‘breasts’ (l. 5) (see NN §2862), and Skj B construes them with Mary, including the phrase eilífrar ástar ‘of eternal love’ (l. 5): ‘My Lady, filled with all joy of eternal love’ (so also Wrightson). The latter reading produces a very complex w.o. — [7] fögnuð ‘joy’: This is a m. dat. sg. u-stem, and we should have expected the form fagnaði rather than fögnuð. The dat. form must have been leveled in analogy with the acc. (see ANG §395.3). The 721 reading fagnað ‘joy’ is also possible as a dat. sg. form (see Iversen 1961, no. 70.1, Anm. 1).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  6. Schottmann, Hans. 1973. Die isländische Mariendichtung. Untersuchungen zur volkssprachigen Mariendichtung des Mittelalters. Münchner germanistische Beiträge 9. Munich: Fink.
  7. Sperber, Hans, ed. 1911. Sechs isländische Gedichte legendarischen Inhalts. Uppsala Universitets årsskrift, filosofi, språkvetenskap och historiska vetenskaper 2. Uppsala: Akademische Buchdruckerei Edv. Berling.
  8. 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.
  9. Iversen, Ragnvald. 1961. Norrøn Grammatik. 6th rev. edn. Oslo: Aschehoug.
  10. Kahle, Bernhard, ed. 1898. Isländische geistliche Dichtungen des ausgehenden Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter.

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