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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Hsv 99VII

Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Hugsvinnsmál 99’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 419.

Anonymous PoemsHugsvinnsmál

text and translation

Upp at hefja        sómir þér eigi vel
        meiri iðn, en þú megir;
algers verks,        þá er unnit er;
        æ spyrr lýðr at lokum.

Sómir þér eigi vel at hefja upp meiri iðn, en þú megir; lýðr spyrr æ at lokum algers verks, þá er unnit er.
‘It does not befit you to start a bigger business than you can manage; people always find out about the results of a completed work when it is finished.

notes and context

Lat. parallel: (Dist. III, 14) Quod potes, id tempta: operis ne pondere pressus / succumbat labor, et frustra temptata relinquas ‘Whatever you can, try, lest under the weight of the burden of the task work collapses and you give up that tried in vain’. In 1199ˣ there is additional text which serves as a paraphrase for the st.: uppbyrja sæmir eigi iðju meiri en algert fáir ‘it is not fitting to undertake an activity greater than can be finished’.



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 99: AII, 187-8, BII, 202, Skald II, 105-6; Hallgrímur Scheving 1831, 24, Gering 1907, 27, Tuvestrand 1977, 126, Hermann Pálsson 1985, 98.


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