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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Heildr 3VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilags anda drápa 3’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 453-4.

Anonymous PoemsHeilags anda drápa

Hugfyldra, blést, hölda
heilagra guð fögrum
vitr, þeim er vísdóm betrir
vandan, spektaranda.
Sú hefr einkagjöf grænkat
geðfjöll liði snjöllu
(erat seggja trú) tryggva
(tóm) siðferðar blómi.

Vitr guð hugfyldra heilagra hölda, blést fögrum spektaranda, þeim er betrir vandan vísdóm. Sú tryggva einkagjöf hefr grænkat {geðfjöll} snjöllu liði blómi siðferðar; trú seggja erat tóm.

Wise God of courageous holy men, you inspired the beautiful spirit of understanding which improves hard-won wisdom. That true, unique gift has made green {the mind-mountains} [SOULS] for wise people with the bloom of moral conduct; the faith of men is not empty.

Mss: B(10r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [2] fögrum: fagra B, 399a‑bˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 160, Skj BII, 175, Skald II, 92, NN §§1403, 2337, 2338B; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 52, Rydberg 1907, 1, 45, Attwood 1996a, 55, 151.

Notes: [2] guð fögrum: B’s ‘fagra’ must be emended to fögrum after blása (which may take acc. or dat.) to provide a dat. antecedent for þeim er (l. 3). Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends to guðs fǫgrum, construing the first helmingr: blést vitr fǫgrum spektaranda, þeims betrir vandan vísdóm hugfyldra heilagra hǫlda guðs ‘You, wise, exhaled the beautiful spirit of understanding, the one which improves the painstaking wisdom of courageous, holy men of God’. — [4] vandan ‘hard-won’: The adj. vandr is usually translated ‘difficult, painstaking’, and derives from the verb vanda ‘to make elaborately, take care and pains in (a work or choice)’ (LP: vanda). The reference may be to worldly understanding, which is utterly ineffectual unless bolstered by the Holy Spirit (see, for example, Eph. I.17-22, Col. I.9). Vandr is translated ‘hard-won’ here, in an attempt to exploit connotations of both the difficulty and the skill of the endeavour. — [4] spektaranda ‘spirit of understanding’: I.e. andi spektar. Cf. Eph. I.17, where the Holy Spirit is described as spiritus sapientiae et revelationis ‘the spirit of wisdom and revelation’. This is a deliberate echo of the characterisation of the Spirit in Isa. XI.2: spiritus sapientiae et intellectus spiritus consilii et fortitudinis spiritus scientiae et pietatis ‘the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness’. — [5-8] hefr grænkat geðfjöll snjöllu liði blómi siðferðar ‘has made green the mind-mountains for wise people with the bloom of moral conduct’: Morally upright behaviour is often described as the ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament (see, for example, Gal. V.22-3; Phil. I.11; Col. I.10; Jas III.17). It is interesting to compare the Postcommunion Sentence of the Mass for Pentecost: Sancti Spiritus, Domine, corda nostra mundet infusio: et sui roris intima aspersione fœcundet ‘May the infusion of the Holy Spirit purify our hearts, O Lord, and make them fruitful by the inward sprinkling of His heavenly dew’ (Lefebure 1924, 970). — [6] geðfjöll ‘mind-mountains [SOULS]’: Cf. the similar kenning skóg hu*gar ‘forest of the mind [SOUL]’ in 5/2. — [7] tryggva (f. sg. nom.) ‘true’: Here construed with sú einkagjöf (l. 5) as a weak adj. This requires no emendation. Both Skj B and Skald emend, Finnur Jónsson to tryggu (n. dat. sg.) agreeing with blómi, Kock to tryggra, m. gen. pl. agreeing with seggja, producing the intercalary cl. trú tryggra seggja erat tóm ‘the faith of reliable men is not empty’.


  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. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  7. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Lefebure, Dom Gaspar. 1924. Daily Missal with Vespers for Sundays and Feasts. London: Caldwell.
  9. Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1844. Fjøgur gømul kvæði. Boðsrit til að hlusta á þá opinberu yfirheyrslu í Bessastaða Skóla þann 22-29 mai 1844. Viðeyar Klaustri: prentuð af Helga Helgasyni, á kostnað Bessastaða Skóla. Bessastaðir: Helgi Helgason.

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