Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 84VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 84’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 656-7.

Anonymous PoemsLilja

Hræðumz eg, að sárt muni svíða
samvizkunnar bygð af grunnum
sundruð öll, þá er syndir kalla
sína eign á hjarta mínu.
Dökkvir munu þá fjandans flokkar
færaz að með ópi og kæru
búnir mig að brenna og pína,
bíta, kremja, rífa og slíta.

Eg hræðumz, að {bygð samvizkunnar} muni svíða sárt, öll sundruð af grunnum, þá er syndir kalla eign sína á hjarta mínu. Þá munu dökkvir flokkar fjandans færaz að með ópi og kæru, búnir að brenna mig og pína, bíta, kremja, rífa og slíta.

I fear that {the seat of conscience} [BREAST] will burn painfully, all sundered from its foundations, when sins claim their ownership of my heart. Then the swarthy flocks of the fiend will rush at me with hooting and complaint, ready to burn me and torment, bite, squeeze, tear and rip.

Mss: Bb(116rb), 99a(16v-17r), 622(38), 713(13), Vb(255), 41 8°ˣ(132), 705ˣ(20v), 4892(38v)

Readings: [1] muni: so 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, munu Bb, mun 99a    [2] grunnum: grunni 99a, 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892    [3] sundruð: sundraz 622, 4892;    er: om. 99a, Vb, 41 8°ˣ    [4] á: í 99a, Vb, 705ˣ, 4892    [5] fjandans: fjanda Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ    [6] að: nær 99a, 622, 713, Vb, 705ˣ, 4892, næst 41 8°ˣ;    kæru: kærum Vb, 41 8°ˣ    [7] pína: so 99a, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892, skemma Bb, skeina 622, 713    [8] bíta: bíta og 622;    kremja: so 99a, 622, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892, ‘krema’ Bb;    rífa: hrífa Vb, 41 8°ˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 389-90, Skj BII, 412, Skald II, 226, NN §187.

Notes: [2] bygð samvizkunnar ‘the seat of conscience’: LP (1860) does not regard this phrase as a kenning. Meissner lists it among the kennings for ‘breast’ (Meissner, 136), and Kock (NN §187) argues that this is the correct interpretation. LP defines it as a kenning for ‘breast’ and refers to Meissner. Kock views the kenning as analogous to the poet’s mention of his burning breast (brjóst svíðir ‘my breast burns’ 76/6; tendrað brjóst ‘burning breast’ 81/4) a few sts earlier, and the theme is certainly the same (cf. also hreinsa brjóst ‘cleanse my heart’ 2/5 and Note). But it is unlikely that the poet intended biological specificity in any of these instances, and Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s approach may still be the best. — [5] dökkvir flokkar ‘swarthy flocks’: Døkkr can refer both to the colour of complexion or hair and to moral or spiritual darkness, but the analogous svartir seggir ‘black men’ 58/1-2 (see Note) suggests that the literal meaning is intended. Devils are commonly portrayed with black complexions in medieval Scandinavian visual art. — [7] pína ‘torment’: 622 and 713 read skeina ‘to scratch, wound’, a reading adopted by Skj B and Skald. Bb’s reading skemma ‘mutilate, shame’ does not provide the required rhyme, and may be a scribal anticipation of 85/3.


  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. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  6. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.

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