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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Hsv 122VII

Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Hugsvinnsmál 122’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 433-4.

Anonymous PoemsHugsvinnsmál

text and translation

Eigi skaltu hlæja,        ef þú vilt horskr vera,
        at öldruðum afa;
opt þat ellibjúgr man,        sem ungr veit eigi,
        ok kennir gott gum*um.

Skaltu eigi hlæja at öldruðum afa, ef þú vilt vera horskr; ellibjúgr man opt þat, sem ungr veit eigi, ok kennir gum*um gott.
‘You must not laugh at an elderly grandfather, if you want to be wise; often one bowed down with age remembers what a young person does not know, and teaches men well.

notes and context

Lat. parallel: (Dist. IV, 18) Cum sapias animo, noli ridere senectam; / namquocumquesene, puerilis sensus in illo est ‘Since you are wise in mind, do not mock old age; for whoever is growing old, there is a childish mind in him’. The OIcel. version has a much more positive view of old age than the Lat. distich. Concerning the advice not to laugh at elderly people cf. also Hávm 134/5-9 (NK, 39): at három þul | hlæðu aldregi! | opt er gott, | þat er gamlir qveða; | opt ór scǫrpom belg | scilin orð koma ‘at a grey-haired sage you should never laugh! Often what the old say is good; often from a wrinkled bag come judicious words’ (Larrington 1996, 33).



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. E/5]. Hugsvinnsmál 121: AII, 192, BII, 206, Skald II, 108, NN §2344; Hallgrímur Scheving 1831, 29, Gering 1907, 33, Tuvestrand 1977, 138, Hermann Pálsson 1985, 113.


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