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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 35VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 35’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 604-5.

Anonymous PoemsLilja
343536

Þó var ei svá rík, að reifa
ríkust móðir ætti góða;
því var kóngrinn hörðu heyvi
huldr, að mætti firraz kulda.
Umsníðningar Jésú prýði
átti dagr að fæðing váttar
æsiz blóð á líkam ljósan;
lagaz minnilig tár af kinnum.

Þó var ríkust móðir ei svá rík, að ætti góða reifa; því var kóngrinn huldr hörðu heyvi, að mætti firraz kulda. Átti dagr að fæðing váttar prýði Jésú umsníðningar; blóð æsiz á ljósan líkam; minnilig tár lagaz af kinnum.

Yet the richest mother was not so rich that she had good swaddling clothes; therefore the king was covered with harsh hay, so that he could be kept from the cold. The eighth day after the birth shows the glory of Jesus’ circumcision; blood spurts over the bright body; memorable tears run down his cheeks.

Mss: Bb(114va), 99a(7v), 622(29), 713(9), Vb(250), 41 8°ˣ(116) (ll. 5-8), 41 8°ˣ(116) (ll. 1-4), 705ˣ(9v-10r), 4892(30r-v)

Readings: [1] Þó: Þá 622;    ei: eigi 99a;    reifa: reifum 622, 713, 4892    [2] ríkust: rjóðust 622, ræsirs Vb, 41 8°ˣ, rét lát 4892;    móðir: móðirin 99a, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, móðir þó 622, móðir er 4892;    ætti: átti 713, 4892;    góða: góðan 622, 4892, góðar 713    [3] var: varð Vb;    kóngrinn: kóngrinn annað 41 8°ˣ, kongr 4892;    heyvi: heyi 99a, 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892    [4] að: om. 99a;    mætti: mætti hann Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 4892, mætti 705ˣ;    firraz: forðaz Vb, 41 8°ˣ;    kulda: kuldan 622    [5] Umsníðningar: umsníðingar 99a, 622, 705ˣ, umsníðing á Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 4892;    Jésú: Jésús 713    [6] átti: átta 713, 4892, hinn átti 705ˣ;    dagr: dag 713, 4892;    að: so 622, 713, 705ˣ, 4892, er Bb, frá 99a, Vb, 41 8°ˣ    [7] æsiz: geysiz 622;    á: um 99a, 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892;    líkam: líkama 705ˣ, líkaman 4892    [8] lagaz: laga Vb, 41 8°ˣ;    minnilig: innilig 713, 4892;    af: á 99a, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892

Editions: Skj AII, 375, Skj BII, 399-40, Skald II, 217-18.

Notes: [All]: The story of Jesus’ Circumcision is told in Luke II.21. In Vb, 41ˣ, and 4892, ll. 1-4 of st. 35 follow ll. 1-4 of st. 34, followed by ll. 5-8 of st. 34 and ll. 5-8 of st. 35. — [1]: The rhyme is between þó v- and reif- (JH). — [3] heyvi ‘with hay’: The alternative dat. form of hey ‘hay’ is certainly the correct reading (pace Skj B and Skald, which have heyi): the rhyme is between því v- and heyv- (JH). — [6] ‘after’: One of the latest examples of this prep. used with acc. to mean ‘after’ (JH). — [7] æsiz blóð á líkam ljósan ‘blood spurts over the bright body’: The shedding of his blood when Jesus was circumcised was traditionally thought to prefigure his Passion. Cf. the Meditaciones Vite Christi of Iohannis de Caulibus: Secundum quod hodie factum fuit, eciam quia incepit Dominus Iesus suum sacratissimum sanguinem pro nobis effundere. Tempestiue enim cepit pro nobis pati. Qui peccatum non fecit pro nobis penam hodie portare incepit ... Audis et hodie quia sanguinem suum fudit. Fuit enim caro ipsius cum cultello lapideo a matre incisa. Nonne ergo campati debet ei? ‘Today our Lord Jesus began shedding his most sacred blood for us, for he very early began to suffer for us. He who committed no sin himself, today began paying its penalty for us … You hear also that he shed his blood today; for his flesh was cut by his mother with a little stone knife. Is it not fitting to suffer along with him?’ (Stallings-Taney 1997, 37-8; Taney 2000, 30). — [8] minnilig tár lagaz af kinnum ‘memorable tears run down his cheeks’: Minniligr can mean both ‘memorable, i.e. worthy of memory’, or ‘loving’ (see Fritzner: minniligr). The context here suggests that the emphasis is on remembering and meditating on the event. Cf. the Meditaciones Vite Christi of Iohannis de Caulibus: Plorauit ergo puer Iesus hodie propter dolorem quem sensit in carne sua; nam ueram carnem et passibilem habuit sicut ceteri homines ... Et sic faciebat quocies plorabat; quod forte sepe puerorum more faciebat ad ostendendam miseriam nature humane quam uere assumpserat, et ad occultandum se, ne a demonio cognosceretur. Cantat namque de ipso Ecclesia: Vagit infans inter arcta, etc. ‘The boy Jesus cried out today because of the pain which he felt in his flesh; for he had real flesh subject to pain just as other people … That was something he would perhaps often do, to show the misery of the human nature he had truly taken on and to conceal his true identity, lest he be recognized by the devil. For the Church sings of him, “within the confines of his crib the little infant cries plaintively”, etc.’ (Stallings-Taney 1997, 38; Taney 2000, 30-1).

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
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