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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Hsv 136VII

Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Hugsvinnsmál 136’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 441.

Anonymous PoemsHugsvinnsmál

text and translation

Engi oftreysti,        þótt eigi sé gamall,
        at muni lengi lifa;
skugga sinn        hygg ek eigi mega skatna flýja
        né heldr forðaz feigð.

Engi oftreysti, at muni lifa lengi, þótt sé eigi gamall; ek hygg skatna mega eigi flýja skugga sinn né heldr forðaz feigð.
‘Nobody may trust too much that he will live long, even if he is not old; I think that men cannot escape their shadow nor avoid the approach of death.

notes and context

Lat. parallel: (Dist. IV, 37) Tempora longa tibi noli promittere vitae: / quocumque ingrederis, sequitur mors corporis umbra ‘Do not promise yourself a long stretch of life; wherever you go death, the shadow of the body, follows’. The advice to be wary of sudden death is also given in Hsv 38. Cf. also Hávm 16 (NK, 19): Ósniallr maðr | hyggz muno ey lifa, | ef hann við víg varaz ‘The foolish man thinks he will live for ever, if he keeps away from fighting’ (Larrington 1996, 16). The same idea is expressed in Has 43.



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 137: AII, 195, BII, 208, Skald II, 109; Hallgrímur Scheving 1831, 32, Gering 1907, 37, Tuvestrand 1977, 146, Hermann Pálsson 1985, 122.


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