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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Leið 13VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Leiðarvísan 13’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 152-3.

Anonymous PoemsLeiðarvísan

text and translation

Stef skal hátt — né hætta
hykk enn tǫlu dyggva —
fljótt, ef finna mættak
fríð orð, goði smíðat.
Lúta englar ítrum
óttlaust ok lið dróttni;
einn es siklingr sunnu
setrs hvívetna betri.

Hátt stef skal smíðat goði fljótt, ef mættak finna fríð orð; né hykk enn hætta dyggva tǫlu. Englar ok lið lúta óttlaust ítrum dróttni; {siklingr {setrs sunnu}} es einn betri hvívetna.
‘A loud refrain shall be made quickly for God, if I am able to find beautiful words; nor do I yet intend to desist from good speech. Angels and people bow down fearlessly before the glorious Lord; the king of the seat of the sun [SKY/HEAVEN > = God] is alone better than everything else.

notes and context

There is an obelos in the left margin indicating the beginning of Leið’s first stef (refrain). — [1-4]: Several interpretations of these ll. are possible. With Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Skj B fljótt (l. 3) is understood here as an adv. ‘quickly’, describing the composition of the refrain. However, Kock (NN §2558) takes fljótt ‘swift-running’ and hátt ‘loud’ (l. 1) as grammatically parallel adjectives. He thus construes hátt, fljótt stef skal smíðat goði ‘a loud, swift-running refrain shall be composed for God’. It is also possible (Peter Foote, pers. comm.) that fljótt (adv.) might be construed with hætta ‘to stop, desist’ (l. 1), rendering the second clause né hykk enn hætta fljótt ‘nor do I intend to desist (i.e. bring the poem to an end) soon’. — [5-8]: Considerable similarities of diction, structure and sentiment exist between this refrain and other helmingar in the Christian skaldic corpus, especially that of C12th. On these similarities, especially between Leið 13/5-8, Pl 32/1-4, Geisl 66/5-6 and Has 20/7-8, and their possible implications for the relative chronology of the C12th drápur, see Attwood 1996b, 232-4.



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 [XII], G [2]. Leiðarvísan 13: AI, 620-1, BI, 625, Skald I, 304, NN §2558; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 60-1, Rydberg 1907, 6, Attwood 1996a, 63, 174.


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