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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ník Jóndr 3VII

Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2007, ‘Níkulás Bergsson, Jónsdrápa postula 3’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 68-9.

Níkulás BergssonJónsdrápa postula

text and translation

Sjalfr unni þér sinna
snjallr postola allra
sal deilandi sólar
siklingr framast miklu.
Hátt gengr vegr, sás veitir
vagnbryggju þér tyggi;
Jón, est hreinstr und háva
hjarlborg skapaðr karla.

Sjalfr snjallr siklingr, deilandi {sal sólar}, unni þér miklu framast allra sinna postola; vegr, sás {tyggi {vagnbryggju}} veitir þér, gengr hátt; Jón, est skapaðr hreinstr karla und {háva hjarlborg}.
‘The wise Lord himself, sharing out the hall of the sun [SKY/HEAVEN], loved you by far the most of all his Apostles. The honour which the ruler of the wagon-bridge [SKY/HEAVEN > = God] grants to you rises high; John, you are created the most pure of men under the high earth-castle [SKY/HEAVEN].

notes and context

In Jón4 this st. is introduced with the remark: I þriði stað segir hann sva blezaðr af sama sętleik elskunnar ‘In third place [in the poem] it says that he [John] was thus blessed with the same sweetness of love’.

This st. refers to S. John’s status as ‘the Apostle whom Jesus loved’ (cf. John XIII.23, XIX.26, XXI.7 and 20). — [1-4]: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), Lange (1958a, 79; 1958b, 17) as well as Bugge (1874, 933) and possibly Kock (Skald) construe the syntax of this helmingr slightly differently from what is presented here: Finnur Jónsson regards the adjectives sjálfr and snjallr as attributives modifying the noun siklingr ‘lord’ and sees the kenning sal deilandi sólar ‘the one ruling the hall of the sun’ as an apposition to sjálfr snjallr siklingr ‘the wise lord himself’ (see Lange 1958a, 79; Lange 1958b, 17). Both phrases are thus the subject of the sentence in the first helmingr. Kock on the contrary sees the two adjectives sjálfr and snjallr as modifying deilandi ‘the ruling one’, the subject of the sentence is thus Sjálfr snjallr sal deilandi sólar ‘the wise one himself, ruling the hall of the sun’. It is unclear whether Kock regards siklingr ‘lord’ as another term for ‘God’ standing in apposition to Sjalfr ... sólar or rather as an term of address for John himself. Bugge appears to regard sjálfr, snjallr and sal-deilandi sólar as three modifiers of the noun siklingr, in this case the pres. part. deilandi would be used as an adj. rather than as a noun.


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: Níkulás Bergsson, 1. Jóansdrápa postola 3: AI, 560, BI, 546, Skald I, 265; Jón4 1874, 510, Bugge 1874, 933, Lange 1958a, 79.


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