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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Brúðv 14VII

Valgerður Erna Þorvaldsdóttir (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Brúðkaupsvísur 14’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 539.

Anonymous PoemsBrúðkaupsvísur

Svanna spurði sól-Njörðr
sunda á þá lund:
‘Hví sætir hrygð sjá?
Hnossa, segðu, Skögul oss!’
Vera liet vegskorð
víkelds því oflík
svarað, því er sagt er,
seiða við gulls meið.

{Sunda sól-{Njörðr}} spurði svanna á þá lund: ‘Hví sætir sjá hrygð? Segðu oss, {Skögul hnossa}!’ {{{Seiða vík}elds} oflík vegskorð} liet því vera svarað við {meið gulls}, því er sagt er.

{The Njörðr <god> {of the sun of the straits}} [(lit. ‘sun-Njörðr of the straits’) GOLD > MAN] asked the woman in this way: ‘What is the reason for this sadness? Tell us [me], {Skögul <valkyrie> of costly things} [WOMAN]!’ {The unique, noble prop {of the fire {of the bay of coal-fish}}} [(lit. ‘prop of the bay-fire of coal-fish’) SEA > GOLD > WOMAN] let that [question] be answered to {the tree of gold} [MAN] with that which will be told.

Mss: 721(14v), 1032ˣ(103v), 399a-bˣ(6), 2166ˣ(6)

Readings: [5] Vera: verða 2166ˣ

Editions: ÍM II, 132.

Notes: [5-8]: This helmingr serves as an introduction to Mary’s lengthy answer in sts 15-20 to the young man’s question. — [5] vera: Jón Sigurðsson suggested the reading verða in the margin of 399a-bˣ. The scribe of 2166ˣ, copying Jón, chose that reading for the main text, but mentioned the original reading vera in the margin. Jón Helgason also chose the reading verða for the sake of the rhyme verð- : skorð. — [6] oflík ‘unique’: Lit. ‘too much like’. The meaning of this adj. is unclear. Mary is not being compared directly to anyone or anything, so the question remains: Who or what is she like? Possibly this is some kind of pun or litotes, ‘too like’ implying ‘not like’, that is, ‘unlike, unique, outstanding’, which seems a fitting way to describe the Virgin Mary. The prefix of- is needed to supply the correct number of syllables in the l. — [8] seiða (gen. pl.) ‘of coal-fish’: The saithe or coal-fish is a common determinant of kennings for the sea, cf. st. 15/4.


  1. Bibliography
  2. ÍM = Jón Helgason, ed. 1936-8. Íslenzk miðaldarkvæði: Islandske digte fra senmiddelalderen. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.

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