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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mlag 1II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Anonymous Poems, Poem about Magnús lagabœtir 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 810.

Anonymous PoemsPoem about Magnús lagabœtir

text and translation

Yfirmilding kveðk engla veldis
— óðr magnaz nú — fyrst at ljóðum;
mætr þengill, stýr minni tungu
málkunnigri, frægrar sunnu.
Skyldr emk þess, er æztr var aldar,
jöfra stýris mærð at skýra
(dróttinn styrki mín orð máttigr)
mestri sæmd (um dýrðar festi).

Kveðk fyrst {yfirmilding {veldis engla}} at ljóðum; nú magnaz óðr; {mætr þengill frægrar sunnu}, stýr málkunnigri tungu minni. Emk skyldr at skýra mærð {þess stýris jöfra}, er var æztr aldar, mestri sæmd; máttigr dróttinn styrki orð mín um {festi dýrðar}.
‘I first summon the supreme lord of the angels’ realm [SKY/HEAVEN > = God] to the recitation; now the poem becomes powerful; glorious prince of the famous sun [= God], guide my eloquent tongue. I am obliged to proclaim the praise of that controller of princes [KING], who was the foremost of men, with the greatest honour; may the powerful Lord strengthen my words about the securer of glory [KING].

notes and context

[5-6]: Skj B (so also Jón Þorkelsson) construes emk skyldr at skýra mærð þess aldar stýris, er var æztr jöfra which translates as jeg har den pligt at forklare den fyrstes lov, som var den ypperste af fyrster ‘I am obliged to explain the praise of that prince, who was the foremost of princes’. That reading creates an unnecessarily complex w. o. (see NN §1374). The reasoning of Finnur and Jón was most likely that the sup. adj. œztr ‘foremost’ is usually constructed with a noun in gen. pl. However, ǫld (gen. sg. aldar) is frequently used in skaldic poetry with a pl. meaning (‘people, men’, see LP: ǫld 3).



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], A. [2]. Et arvekvad om kong Magnús lagabøter 1: AII, 136, BII, 146, Skald II, 78, NN §1374; Småstykker 1-16, 289-90.


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