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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Brúðv 20VII

Valgerður Erna Þorvaldsdóttir (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Brúðkaupsvísur 20’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 542-3.

Anonymous PoemsBrúðkaupsvísur

‘Biðja vil eg yðr enn
elsku, meðan boðið dvelz,
stýrir, ef stoðar mier,
stagþjórs, og vinlags.
Betri mun eigi falds fit
finnaz þier vinr minn
hæfa nein heldr víf
hittaz, þóttu farir vítt.’

‘Eg vil enn biðja yðr elsku og vinlags, {stýrir {stagþjórs}}, meðan boðið dvelz, ef stoðar mier. Víf mun eigi hæfa þier, {betri fit falds} finnaz, vinr minn, heldr nein hittaz, þóttu farir vítt.’

‘I want to ask you in addition for love and friendship, {steerer {of the ox of the fore-stay}} [SHIP > SEAFARER], while the feast is delayed, if that is of any use to me. A wife will not suit you, {a better meadow of the head-dress} [WOMAN] [will not] be found, my friend, on the contrary none will be met, although you travel widely.’

Mss: 721(14v), 1032ˣ(105v-106v), 399a-bˣ(8), 2166ˣ(8)

Readings: [5] Betri: so 1032ˣ, 399a‑bˣ, 2166ˣ, ‘beitri’ 721;    falds: fjalls 721

Editions: ÍM II, 132-3.

Notes: [2] meðan boðið dvelz ‘while the feast is delayed’: That is, the wedding feast in contrast to the betrothal feast, referred to in st. 10. Mary’s strategy is to persuade the young man to abandon his fiancée before the second part to his marriage, the wedding, could be finalised and the union thus consummated. On the two distinct steps in a legitimated Icel. marriage, see Foote and Wilson 1980, 111-14; Jochens 1995, 20-52. — [2] dvelz: Jón Helgason suggested the normalisation of 721’s ‘duelzt’ to dvelsk to produce an aðalhending. — [5-8]: It is hard to make good sense of the second half of the st. The general sense is clear, that no earthly wife will be good enough for the young man, but the syntax and relationship between the clauses is awkward and the text may be corrupt. Jón Helgason suggested another reading of the helmingr by emending some words (ÍM II, 133 n.). His version can be construed like this: betri fit falds muna finnask þér, vinr minn, né heldr in hœfra víf hittask, þótt þú farir vítt ‘A better land of the head-dress [WOMAN] will not be found for you, my friend, nor a more suited wife be met either, although you travel widely’. — [5] falds ‘of the head-dress’: Jón Helgason emended the original reading fjalls to produce an appropriate determinant in the kenning fit falds ‘meadow of the head-dress’ [WOMAN].


  1. Bibliography
  2. Foote, Peter G. and D. M. Wilson. 1980. The Viking Achievement. 2nd edn. Great Civilizations Series. London: Sidgwick & Jackson.
  3. ÍM = Jón Helgason, ed. 1936-8. Íslenzk miðaldarkvæði: Islandske digte fra senmiddelalderen. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  4. Jochens, Jenny. 1995. Women in Old Norse Society. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

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