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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Hsv 56VII

Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Hugsvinnsmál 56’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 395.

Anonymous PoemsHugsvinnsmál

text and translation

Allsnotr maðr        ef íþróttir nema vill
        ok vel mart vita,
bækr hann lesi,        þær er gerðu bragnar spakir,
        þeir er kendu fróðleik firum,
þvít á fornum bókum        stendr til flestra hluta
        ráðafjölð ritin.

Ef allsnotr maðr vill nema íþróttir ok vita mart vel, lesi hann bækr, þær er spakir bragnar gerðu, þeir er kendu firum fróðleik, þvít ráðafjölð stendr ritin til flestra hluta á fornum bókum.
‘If a very wise man wants to learn accomplishments and know many things well, let him read the books which wise men who taught people knowledge wrote, because a great deal of advice stands written on most things in ancient books.

notes and context

Sts 56-7 paraphrase the preface to Book II of the Disticha. The present st. corresponds roughly to the two opening ll.: (Praefatio Libri II/1-2) Telluris si forte velis cognoscere cultus / Vergilium legito; quodsi mage nosse laboras... ‘If by chance you want to learn about tilling the soil, read Virgil; but if you seek to know rather...’; and l. 10: Ergo ades, et quae sit sapientia disce legendo ‘So come closer and learn by reading what wisdom is’. The reference to Virgil is to his treatise on agriculture, the Georgics. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) has two sts here, with the second (his st. 58) incomplete and based on 624: [þvít] á fornum bókum | stendr til flests ráð, which he translates ti i gamle bøger står der råd for alt ‘for in old books there stands advice for everything’.



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: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], [C. E/5]. Hugsvinnsmál 56-7: AII, 180, BII, 195, Skald II, 102, 107, NN §2591; Hallgrímur Scheving 1831, 16, Gering 1907, 16, Tuvestrand 1977, 102-3, Hermann Pálsson 1985, 66.


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