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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 23VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 23’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 589-90.

Anonymous PoemsLilja

text and translation

Tendraz öll og tala með snilli,
tunga mín, af herra þínum!
Um stórmerkin áttu að yrkja
yfirspennanda heima þrennra.
Bjúg og sár í bandi værir,
bandi riett ins nezta fjanda,
nema hjálpræði guðs ið góða
giefið á jörð mig leystan hefði.

Tunga mín, tendraz öll og tala með snilli af herra þínum! Áttu að yrkja um stórmerkin {yfirspennanda þrennra heima}. Værir bjúg og sár í bandi, riett bandi ins nezta fjanda, nema ið góða hjálpræði guðs, giefið á jörð, hefði leystan mig.
‘My tongue, be all kindled and speak with skill of your Lord! You must compose poetry about the miracles of the over-spanner of three worlds [= God]. You would be bent and bound in a fetter, right in the fetter of the lowest devil, except that the good salvation of God, given on earth, had released me.

notes and context

The order of sts 22 and 23 is reversed in Bb. — [1-5]: The various mss treat these ll. as either the poet’s direct address to his tongue and poetic faculty (so Bb, Skald, NN §3312 and this edn), or (much less likely) as a 3rd-pers. statement about the same subject (so Skj B and various mss, though not consistently). This difference affects the following words: tala ‘speak’ (talar ‘it speaks’) (l. 1); þínum ‘your’ (sínum ‘its’) (l. 2); áttu ‘you must’ (á hon ‘it [the tongue] must’) (l. 3); værir ‘you would be’ (væri ‘it would be’) (l. 5). The apostrophe to the tongue is reminiscent of the many Lat. passion hymns beginning with the topos pange, lingua ‘sing, tongue’, e.g. the passion hymn Pange lingua, gloriosi / proelium certaminis ‘Sing, tongue, the strife of the glorious battle’ (AH 2, 44) and the Nordic hymn to S. Óláfr, Pange lingua, gloriose / Diei solemnia / Regum jubar pretiose / Rex Olave … ‘Sing, tongue, the solemnity of the glorious day, the precious splendour of kings, King Óláfr …’ (AH 11, 206). — [8]: The rhyme is between gef- and hef- . Cf. Ok þ- : teygð- 18/3.



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: Eysteinn Ásgrímsson, Lilja 23: AII, 370-1, BII, 396, Skald II, 215-16, NN §3312.


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