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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 89VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 89’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 662-3.

Anonymous PoemsLilja

Þú ert hreinlífis dygðar dúfa,
dóttir guðs, og lækning sótta,
giftu vegr, og geisli lofta,
gimsteinn brúða og drotning himna,
guðs herbergi og gleyming sorga,
gleðinnar past og eyðing lasta,
líknar æðr og lífgan þjóða,
loflig mær, þú ert einglum hæri.

Þú ert dúfa dygðar hreinlífis, dóttir guðs og lækning sótta, vegr giftu og geisli lofta, gimsteinn brúða og drotning himna, herbergi guðs og gleyming sorga, past gleðinnar og eyðing lasta, æðr líknar og lífgan þjóða, loflig mær, þú ert hæri einglum.

You are the dove of the virtue of chastity, daughter of God and healing of sicknesses, path of good fortune and light-beam of the skies, jewel of women and queen of the heavens, God’s lodging and forgetting of sorrows, nourishment of gladness and elimination of sins, vein of mercy and life-giver of peoples, praiseworthy maiden, you are higher than the angels.

Mss: Bb(116va), 99a(17v-18r), 622(39), 713(14), Vb(255), 41 8°ˣ(134), 41 8°ˣ(420), 705ˣ(21v), 4892(39r)

Readings: [1] dygðar: dygðug 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134), 41 8°ˣ(420), 705ˣ, 4892    [2] dóttir: drótta Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134);    guðs: konungs 622, hirðir Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134);    og: enn 622, 713, 4892, om. Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134)    [3] geisli: geislin 99a, 705ˣ, gimsteinn 41 8°ˣ(420)    [4] gimsteinn: geisli 41 8°ˣ(420);    brúða: lýða Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134);    og: om. Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134);    drotning: jöfur Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134)    [5] guðs: gjafu Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134), þú guðs 41 8°ˣ(420);    og: om. Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134), ert 41 8°ˣ(420)    [7] æðr: auðr 41 8°ˣ(134);    lífgan: leikning 622, ljósið Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134);    þjóða: fríða Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134)    [8] loflig: lofligr Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134);    mær þú ert einglum: næsta föðurnum Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134);    einglum: drotni 99a, sprundum 622, 41 8°ˣ(420);    hæri: kæruzt 99a, kærstur Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134)

Editions: Skj AII, 391, Skj BII, 413, Skald II, 227.

Notes: [All]: The order of sts 89 and 90 is reversed in 622, Vb, 41 8°ˣ(134), and 41 8°ˣ(420). — [All]: Sts 90/6-8, 89 and 91-6 appear in 41 8°ˣ, both in the main text of Lil, on pp. 134-6 and separately on pp. 420-2. For details, see the Introduction. Variant readings from both locations are given. — [1] hreinlífis ‘of chastity, virginity’: In the ON Eluc, the word translates Lat. virginitas (Eluc 1989, 153); in HómNo it translates castitas (Unger 1864, 31 and 55; HómNo, 17 and 29). A prayer to Mary in HómÍsl 1993, 90v addresses her as blóme hreínlifes ‘flower (or fruit) of chastity’. — [1] dúfa ‘dove’: Medieval authors associated the dove with chastity, perhaps inspired by the S. of S.: soror mea amica mea columba mea inmaculata mea ‘my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled’ (S. of S. V.2). Bede comments on this text: Columba ergo simplicitatem turtur indicat castitatem quia et columba simplicitatis et castitatis amator est turtur ita ut si coniugem casu perdiderit non alium ultra quaerere curet ‘Therefore the dove signifies simplicity, the turtledove signifies chastity, because the dove so loves simplicity and the turtledove chastity, that if the mate should happen to die, it does not desire to seek another’ (Hurst and Fraipoint 1955, 129-30) Cf. also the Speculum Virginum (Seyfarth 1990, 58). — [2] dóttir guðs ‘daughter of God’: An allusion to filia principis ‘daughter of the prince’ (S. of S. VII.1). — [2] lækning sótta ‘healing of sorrows’: See Note to 40/5. Lækning sótta echoes the popular Lat. epithet for Mary medicina dolorum (cf. AH 15, 129; 31, 145; 32, 87, 141; 46, 164, 183, 197, 251). — [3] vegr giftu ‘path of good fortune’: The epithet does not have analogues in either ON or Lat. poetry. Lat. hymns often use the epithet via vitae ‘path of life’ for Mary. — [3] geisli lofta ‘light-beam of the skies’: This epithet is likewise unusual. The image of a ray or beam of light is normally associated with Christ, in ON as well as in Lat. literature (cf. geisli miskunnar sólar ‘beam of the sun of mercy’ Geisl 1/6 etc.). In Lil 27/3, geisli sólar ‘ray of the sun’ is used of the archangel Gabriel. The meaning is more metaphorical (something like ‘shining example’) when geisli brúða ‘light-beam of women’ refers to S. Anastasia in Mey 42/6 and Íslands gǫfugr geisli ‘Iceland’s splendid beam’ to Bishop Guðmundr in Árni Gd, 67/1IV; perhaps it should be understood in a similar way here. — [4] gimsteinn brúða ‘jewel of women’: Cf. gimsteinn vífa ‘jewel of women’ 27/8 and Note. — [4] drotning himna ‘queen of the heavens’: The epithet regina cæli is a common title for Mary, perhaps most familiar from the Easter antiphon Regina cæli, lætare ‘Queen of heaven, rejoice’ (Brev. Nidr., h.iiiiv). Cf. also the Marian prayer in HómÍsl 1993, 91r: þu en ſę́la domina celi et terre ‘you are the blessed queen of heaven and earth’. — [5] guðs herbergi ‘God’s lodging’: Cf. e.g. the hymn Quæ est ista: Hæc est, in quo se reclinat / Rex, reclinatorium, / Viatori, dum declinat, / Hæc est diversorium / Caput super hanc inclinat / Non habens tugurium / Rex æternæ gloriæ; / Ha, quam dulcis est memoriæ, / Mater tam laudabilis ‘This is she, in whom the king reclines, the couch for the traveller, while he rests, this is the lodging where the king of eternal glory rests his head, not having a cottage; how sweet is the thought, mother so praiseworthy’ (AH 9, 58-9). The prayer to Mary in HómÍsl 1993, 90v calls her herbirge heilagſ anda ‘lodging of the Holy Spirit’. The sense is not just that Mary was filled with God or the Spirit in a general sense, but that she conceived her child by the Holy Spirit and thus became the Mother of God. — [6] eyðing ‘elimination’: The word is not attested elsewhere in ON. See Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4 for its use in MIcel. — [8] þú ert hæri einglum ‘you are higher than the angels’: Cf the prayer in HómÍsl 1993, 90v: þu ert ꜵllom helgom helgare oc hǽri at verðleicom ‘you are holier than all the saints and more highly deserving’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. AH = Dreves, G. M., C. Blume and H. M. Bannister, eds. 1886-1922. Analecta hymnica medii aeui. 55 vols. Leipzig: Reisland. Rpt. 1961. New York: Johnson.
  4. Brev. Nidr. = [Anonymous] Breviarium Nidrosiense. 1519. Paris: Jean Kerbriant and Jean Bienayse. Rpt. facsimile edn 1964. Oslo: Børsum.
  5. Eluc 1989 = Firchow, Evelyn S. and Kaaren Grimstad, eds. 1989. Elucidarius in Old Norse Translation. RSÁM 36. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar.
  6. Sigfús Blöndal. 1920-4. Islandsk-dansk ordbog / Íslensk-dönsk orðabók. Reykjavík, Copenhagen and Kristiania (Oslo): Verslun Þórarins B. Þorlákssonar / Aschehoug.
  7. Unger, C. R. 1864. Gammel norsk Homiliebog. Norske oldskriftselskabs samlinger 1, 5. Christiania (Oslo): Brøgger & Christie.
  8. HómÍsl 1993 = de Leeuw van Weenen, Andrea, ed. 1993. The Icelandic Homily Book: Perg. 15 4° in the Royal Library, Stockholm. Íslensk handrit/Icelandic Manuscripts Series in quarto 3. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar á Íslandi.
  9. HómNo = Indrebø, Gustav. 1931. Gamal norsk homiliebok, Cod. AM 619, 4°. Det norske historiske Kjeldeskrift Fond, Skrifter 54. Oslo: Dybwad. Rpt. 1966. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
  10. Eluc = Elucidarius.
  11. Hurst, David and J. Fraipoint, eds. 1955. [Bede the Venerable] Opera homiletica. Opera rhythmica. CCSL 122.
  12. Internal references
  13. Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa 42’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 917.
  14. Not published: do not cite (Árni GdIV)
  15. 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.
  16. Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 1’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 7.
  17. Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 27’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 593-4.

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