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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 42VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 42’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 612-13.

Anonymous PoemsLilja

text and translation

‘Þystir hann og er fölr af föstum,
firriz hlátr, en kann að gráta;
mæðiz hann og er móður sinnar
mjólku fæddr, en reifum klæddiz.
Finn eg þó, að í slíku sannar
sjálf náttúran, manndóm váttar;
fýsir mig því framm að æsa
flein ódygðar honum að meini.

‘Þystir hann og er fölr af föstum, firriz hlátr, en kann að gráta; hann mæðiz og er fæddr mjólku móður sinnar en klæddiz reifum. Þó finn eg, að sjálf náttúran sannar í slíku, váttar manndóm; því fýsir mig að æsa framm flein ódygðar að meini honum.
‘‘He thirsts and is pale from fasts, avoids laughter, but knows how to weep; he grows weary and is fed with the milk of his mother and was clothed in swaddling clothes. And yet I find that nature itself gives proof in such a thing, attests to his humanity; therefore I long to shoot forward the dart of faithlessness to his harm.

notes and context

[1]: A reference to Jesus’ fasting in the desert before being tempted by the devil. — [1-4]: Lucifer’s soliloquy here is an anachronistic summary of incidents that attest to the humanity of Jesus. He watches Jesus grow weak from fasting in the desert after his Baptism (cf. Matt. IV.2, Mark I.12-13, Luke IV.1-2) and recalls that he was dependent on his mother as a helpless infant. This is part of the topos of the deception of Lucifer (Wee 1974, 5-9); he cannot be sure whether Jesus is human or divine, and he tempts him to learn the truth (see st. 45). Cf. Note to st. 39 and Mar 1871, 187: ef hann vęri gvþ allra verallda, mvndi hann eigi þvilikar vanvirþingar þola vilia. Eigi mvndi hann i vꜹggv halldinn eða reifvm bundinn, eigi mvndi hann grata hungra eða kvensliga miolk drecka, þviat eigi mvn þat synaz talat skynsamliga, at hvngr se a gvðe lifanda ‘if he were God of all worlds, he would not want to suffer such humiliations. He would not be contained in a cradle or bound with swaddling clothes, he would not cry with hunger or drink woman’s milk, because that would not appear spoken fittingly, that the living God should experience hunger’.



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 42: AII, 377, BII, 401, Skald II, 219.


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