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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 46VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 46’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 616-17.

Anonymous PoemsLilja

Þessu næst hins kæra Kristi
kenning tók um bygð að renna;
lífþjónandi lærisveina
leitar, finnr og þar með veitir
blindum, hrjúfum, dumbum, daufum,
dauðum, krömdum, ærum, lömdum:
augu, græðing, orð, að hlýða,
andir, heilsu, vizku, að standa.

Þessu næst tók kenning hins kæra Kristi að renna um bygð; leitar lífþjónandi lærisveina, finnr, og veitir þar með blindum, hrjúfum, dumbum, daufum, dauðum, krömdum, ærum, lömdum: augu, græðing, orð, að hlýða, andir, heilsu, vizku, að standa.

After this news of the dear Christ began to spread through the district; he seeks life-serving disciples, finds [them], and thereby gives the blind, lepers, the dumb, the deaf, the dead, the plagued, the insane, the lame: eyes, healing, words, hearing [lit. to hear], spirits, health, wisdom, [strength] to stand.

Mss: Bb(114vb-115ra), 99a(9v-10r), 622(31), 713(9), Vb(251), 41 8°ˣ(120), 705ˣ(12r-v), 4892(32r)

Readings: [3] lífþjónandi: so 99a, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892, líf þjónanda Bb, lífs skínandi 622;    ‑sveina: ‑sveinum 622, ‑sveinar 41 8°ˣ    [4] með: til 622    [6] krömdum: lömdum 705ˣ;    lömdum: krömdum 705ˣ    [7] augu: augna 99a, 622, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892;    orð: orði 99a, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892    [8] andir: andar 622, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 4892;    heilsu: heilsu og 99a

Editions: Skj AII, 378, Skj BII, 402, Skald II, 219, NN §2630.

Notes: [1-2]: Cf. the account of the beginning of Christ’s ministry in Luke IV.14: et regressus est Iesus in virtute Spiritus in Galilaeam et fama exiit per universam regionem de illo ‘And Jesus returned in the power of the spirit, into Galilee, and the fame of him went out through the whole country’. The biblical allusion makes clear that kenning refers to Christ’s reputation and not his teaching, the sense in which it is taken in Skj B. — [3] lífþjónandi ‘life-serving’: The majority mss’ reading seems necessary, although Eiríkur Magnússon (1870, 47) retains the Bb reading and translates ‘Disciples he did search and save, that life dispensing band’. Kock understands lífþjónandi as a substantive referring to Christ, parallel to lífgari 63/2 (NN §2630). — [4-8]: Cf. Matt. XI.5/Luke VII.22: caeci vident claudi ambulant leprosi mundantur surdi audiunt mortui resurgunt pauperes evangelizantur ‘The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, to the poor the gospel is preached’. These ll. are an elegant example of the rhetorical figure versus rapportati (Lausberg 1998, §716; Curtius 1953, 291) combined with zeugma (Lausberg 1998, §§692-708). Bede defines zeugma ‘yoking’ as a figure in which one word (here veitir) governs two or more parts of a sentence (Hurst and Fraipoint 1975, 144). The two phrases governed by veitir are, first, a series of adjectives in the dat., used substantively, and then a parallel series of nouns (or verbs used substantively) in the acc. The strict symmetry holds the two periods together. See Laugesen 1966, 298-9 for a discussion of this and related examples from Everardus Alemannus, Quintilian, Cicero, and Geoffrey of Vinsauf. Laugesen notes that zeugma is also discussed in TGT (TGT 1884-6, I, 92-3), but he maintains that the Lil poet learned his technique from Lat. sources and not there. — [4-5]: It is highly unusual for the syntax of the last l. of the first helmingr of a st. and the first l. of the second to be so closely bound (JH). — [5] hrjúfum ‘lepers’: Lit. ‘rough’, i.e. with rough scales or lesions on the skin. Cf. LP (1860): hjrúfr 2: asper, scaber (‘rough, scabrous’). — [6] krömdum ‘plagued’: P. p. of kremja ‘to crush, oppress, torment, plague’, used of those suffering chronic illness (kröm). See Fritzner and Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4: kremja and kröm.


  1. Bibliography
  2. TGT 1884 = Björn Magnússon Ólsen, ed. 1884. Den tredje og fjærde grammatiske afhandling i Snorres Edda tilligemed de grammatiske afhandlingers prolog og to andre tillæg. SUGNL 12. Copenhagen: Knudtzon.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  7. Curtius, Ernst R. 1953. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. Trans. Willard R. Trask. Bollingen Ser. 36. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Originally published 1948. Europäische literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter. Bern: Francke.
  8. Sigfús Blöndal. 1920-4. Islandsk-dansk ordbog / Íslensk-dönsk orðabók. Reykjavík, Copenhagen and Kristiania (Oslo): Verslun Þórarins B. Þorlákssonar / Aschehoug.
  9. 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.
  10. Laugesen, Anker Teilgård. 1966. Middelalderlitteraturen: en orientering. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  11. Lausberg, Heinrich. 1998. Handbook of Literary Rhetoric: A Foundation for Literary Study. Trans. Matthew T. Bliss, Annemiek Jansen and David E. Orton. Ed. David E. Orton and R. Dean Anderson. Leiden: Brill.
  12. Internal references
  13. Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘The Third Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  14. Martin Chase 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Lilja’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 544-677.

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