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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 11VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 11’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 573-5.

Anonymous PoemsLilja

text and translation

Breytti guð og brá til hætti
blóð og hold af vatni og moldu,
liettan blástr af lofti næsta,
lífs heitleika af sólar reitum,
önd og þar til síðan sendi;
sú er skiljandi drottins vilja;
leið kunnandi um líkams æðar,
líf skínanda af helgum anda.

Guð breytti og brá hætti til, blóð og hold af vatni og moldu, liettan blástr af lofti næsta, heitleika lífs af {reitum sólar}, og sendi síðan þar til önd; sú er skiljandi vilja drottins, kunnandi leið um æðar líkams, skínanda líf af helgum anda.
‘God transformed and changed his behaviour, blood and flesh from water and soil, the light breath from the nearest air, the warmth [lit. warmths] of life from the paths of the sun [SKY/HEAVEN], and then he sent a soul there; it is discerning the Lord’s will, knowing the path through the body’s blood vessels, the shining life from the Holy Spirit.

notes and context

Behind this st. is the traditional notion that after creating the cosmos, God set out on a new, analogous course of action, and created man, the microcosmos. Cf. the ON Eluc: callasc hann af þui enn minne heimr. þuiat hann hafþe hold af iorþo enn bloþ af vatne blost af lofste enn hita af elde ‘he is therefore called microcosm, the small world. He got his flesh from the earth and his blood from the water, his breath from the air, and his warmth from the fire’ (Eluc 1992, 14-15). There is also a shift from the creation of the lower animals to the creation of man, who has a rational soul and thus can know God. Cf. Stjórn (Unger 1862, 20): Madrinn med sinni skynsemd [cf. Lil 5/2] er eigi þaleidis skapaðr lutr ok nidr leitr sem skynlaus kuikendi. er hans likams uo᷎xtr rettr formeradr upp til himinsins sua sem sealfan hann aaminnandi. at hann hafi aa þann haat sin hugskotz augu ok skilningaruit til himneskra hluta. sem hans likamligh augu skilningaruit ok aaseona ueit upp til himinsins ‘The man with his discernment is not thus created bowed over and bent downward like insensible creatures. The growth of his body is upright toward heaven, so he can remind himself that, in that way, he should have his mind’s eye and his discernment turned towards heavenly things: like his bodily eyes, his discernment also turns its glance up towards heaven’.



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: Eysteinn Ásgrímsson, Lilja 11: AII, 366-7, BII, 393, Skald II, 213-4, NN §3309.


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