Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 36VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 36’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 605-6.

Anonymous PoemsLilja

Á þrettánda dag til drottins
dýrðarmenn, er ríkjum stýrðu
austr í heim, með offri kómu
ungan mann að prísa á þannveg.
Umrennandi sex að sinnum
sex daga grein og fjórum einum
offraz kaus fyrir oss að vísu
Jésús sjálfr í musteris hválfi.

Á þrettánda dag kómu dýrðarmenn, er stýrðu ríkjum austr í heim, til drottins með offri að prísa ungan mann á þannveg. Að umrennandi grein sex sinnum sex daga og fjórum einum, kaus Jésús sjálfr að vísu offraz fyrir oss í musteris hválfi.

On the thirteenth day came glorious men, who ruled kingdoms in the eastern part of the world, to the Lord with offering, to honour the young man in that way. When a period of six times six days plus just four more had run its course, Jesus himself indeed chose to be offered for us in the vault of the temple.

Mss: Bb(114va), 99a(7v-8r), 622(29), 713(9), Vb(250), 41 8°ˣ(116-117), 705ˣ(10r), 4892(30v)

Readings: [1] dag: degi 622;    til: om. 622    [2] er: að 622    [3] austr: austan Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 4892;    í: so 99a, 622, 713, 705ˣ, om. Bb, um Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 4892;    offri: offrið 99a, 705ˣ, offrin Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 4892;    kómu: kvomu 713    [4] að: þeir 4892;    prísa á: heiðra 99a, 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892;    þannveg: þannin 713, 4892    [5] sex: sjau 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 4892    [6] fjórum: so 705ˣ, þar til Bb, 99a, 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, þar að 4892    [7] offraz: offrið 622, 4892    [8] hválfi: hvölfi Vb

Editions: Skj AII, 375, Skj BII, 400, Skald II, 218.

Notes: [1-4]: The story of the visit of the Magi is told in Matt. II.1-8. — [4] að prísa á þannveg ‘to honour in that way’: Other mss have heiðra þann veg with much the same meaning and their wording has been preferred by Skj B and Skald. — [5-6]: The construction + pres. part. is used to express elapsed time. See NS §229 Anm. 2, for analogous examples. The same formula appears in 68/1-2. This st. is corrupt in the ms. tradition, which has likely been influenced by st. 68. The reading given here seems most probable: forty is the number of days between Christmas and the Presentation. Only one late ms. supports the reading fjórum, although eds and translators since Páll Hallsson have adopted it (Páll Hallsson 1773, 20; Finnur Jónsson 1772-8, II, 416; Eiríkur Magnússon 1870, 37; Baumgartner 1884, 51; Wisén 1886-9, I, 92; Skj B; Paasche 1915, 64; Åkerblom 1916, 19; Meissner 1922, 15; Skald; Guðbrandur Jónsson 1951, 84 and 165; Lange 1958b, 63; Einar Bragi 1961; Boucher 1985, 2-10; Gunnar Finnbogason 1988, 49; Ødegård 1980, 49; Taillé 1989, 72). — [5-8]: The story of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (also called the Purification of Mary) is told in Luke II.22-40. — [7] offraz ‘offered’: The verbal echo of offri ‘offering’ (l. 3) points out the relationship between the offering of the Magi and Jesus’ offering of himself. Cf. the secreta of the mass for the Epiphany: Ecclesie tue quesumus domine dona propicius intuere. quibus non iam aurus thus et mirrha profertur: sed quod eiſdem muneribus declaratur immolatur et sumitur. Jesus Christus dominus noster ‘Lord, we ask that you regard propitiously the gifts of your church, through which not gold, frankincense, and myrrh are offered, but that which by these gifts is proclaimed, sacrificed, and taken up: Jesus Christ, our Lord’ (Missale pro usu totius regni Norvegie … 1519, a.xviiv). — [7] kaus ‘chose’: This detail of the story is unusual. It is more theological than narrative: it emphasizes the voluntary nature of the Incarnation and all that it implies.


  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. Baumgartner, Alexander, trans. 1884. Die Lilie: Isländische Mariendichtung aus dem 14. Jahrhundert. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder.
  5. Boucher, Alan, trans. 1985. The Lily and Lay of the Sun: Two Mediæval Religious Poems. Parallel Text Series: University of Iceland, Faculty of Arts Language Centre 1. Reykjavík: Bóksala stúdenta.
  6. Einar Bragi, ed. 1961. Lilja. Reykjavík: Prentsmiðja Jóns Helgasonar.
  7. Taillé, Michel, ed. and trans. 1989. Le Lis: Poème religieux islandais (‘Lilja’), écrit au XIVe siècle par Frère Eysteinn Asgrimsson. Texts original, présentation, traducion et commentaire. Cahiers du Centre de linguistique et de littérature religeuses 3. Angers: Université catholique de l’Ouest, Institut de perfectionnement en langues vivantes.
  8. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1886-9. Carmina Norrœnæ: Ex reliquiis vetustioris norrœnæ poësis selecta, recognita, commentariis et glossario instructa. 2 vols. Lund: Ohlsson.
  9. Ødegård, Knut, trans. 1980. Lilja. Oslo: Tiden.
  10. Åkerblom, Axel, trans. 1916a. Lilja: Den nordiska medeltidens förnämsta religiösa dikt af den isländske munken Eystein Ásgrímsson. Lund: Gleerup.
  11. Finnur Jónsson [Finnus Iohannaeus]. 1772-8. Historia Ecclesiastica Islandiae. 4 vols. Copenhagen.
  12. Guðbrandur Jónsson, ed. 1951. Lilja: Krists konungs drápa tíræð eftir Eystein Ásgrímsson. Reykjavík: Helgafell.
  13. Gunnar Finnbogason, ed. 1988. Lilja. Reykjavík: Stafafell. 2nd rev. edn. Rekjavík: Hörpuútgáfa. Originally published 1974.
  14. NS = Nygaard, Marius. 1906. Norrøn syntax. Kristiania (Oslo): Aschehoug. Rpt. 1966.
  15. Páll Hallsson, ed. and trans. 1773. Eysteins Asgrimssonar Lilia, cum versione latina & lectionibus variantibus edita. Copenhagen: [n. p.].
  16. Lange, Wolfgang. 1958b. Christliche Skaldendichtung. Kleine Vandenhoeck-Reihe 54. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht.
  17. Meissner, Rudolf, trans. 1922. Die Lilie: Dichtung von Eysteinn Ásgrímsson. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder.

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