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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Heildr 13VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilags anda drápa 13’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 463-4.

Anonymous PoemsHeilags anda drápa

text and translation

Þinn er, salkonungs sólar,
sjauskiptr frami gipta,
(vandask) hægri handar
hreinn fingr (bragar greinir).
Prýðir rausnar ræður,
ríkr andi, þér líkaz;
fyrirtígnari, fegra*,
föður, kverkr meginverkum.

Hreinn fingr hægri handar {{sólar sal}konungs}, þinn frami gipta er sjauskiptr; bragar greinir vandask. Ríkr andi, prýðir ræður rausnar; fyrirtígnari föður, líkaz þér fegra* kverkr meginverkum.
‘Pure finger of the right hand of the king of the hall of the sun [(lit. ‘the sun’s hall-king’) SKY/HEAVEN > = God], your distinction of grace [lit. good fortunes] is sevenfold; the poem’s branches are elaborately crafted. Powerful spirit, you adorn speeches of magnificence; proclaiming messenger of the Father, it pleases you to beautify throats with mighty works.

notes and context

The Lat. text, of which this st. is a rendition, reads as follows: Tu septiformis munere, / dextrae Dei tu digitus, / tu rite promisso patris / sermone ditans guttura ‘You, with your sevenfold gift, you, finger of the right hand of God, you, duly according to the promise of the Father, enriching throats with speech’. — [5-8]: This helmingr is difficult. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), while indicating his uncertainty, interpreted the four ll. thus.: rausnar-ríkr andi, fyrirtígnari fǫður kverkr, prýðir líkast ræður, fegnar þér, meginverkum ‘spirit powerful in magnificence, honourer of the Father’s throat (speech), ornaments in the best way the speeches, you rejoice in, with mighty works’. Aside from the considerable syntactic fragmentation this involves, there are problems of sense. Taking kverkr, gen. sg. of kverk, f. ‘throat’ with fǫður gen., to form the epithet fyrirtígnari fǫður kverkr ‘honourer of the father’s throat’ i.e. ‘honourer of the father’s word’ for the Holy Spirit runs contrary to the Lat. text, which indicates that the helmingr should refer to the Holy Spirit’s endowing the throats of human beings with speech. A reading that is much simpler syntactically, but which involves emending B’s ‘likaz’ (l. 6) to líkastr, sup. adj. m. nom. sg., to agree with andi, is provided by Kock (NN §2340 and Skald): here ll. 5-6 and 7-8 form two separate main clauses. The present edn retains B’s líkaz and emends fegnar (l. 7) to fegra* ‘to embellish, beautify’. This gives a close parallel to the Lat. sermone ditans guttura ‘enriching throats with speech’.



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 [XIII], C. [3]. Heilags anda vísur 13: AII, 162, BII, 178, Skald II, 93, NN §2340; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 55, Rydberg 1907, 3, 46, Attwood 1996a, 58, 154.


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