Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Leið 6VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Leiðarvísan 6’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 145-6.

Anonymous PoemsLeiðarvísan

Tekk til orðs, þars urðu
alfregnar jartegnir
— tôkn eru sýnd í slíku
sǫnn — Jórsalamǫnnum.
Sendi salvǫrðr grundar
snillifimr af himni
borgar lýð til bjargar
bréf gollstǫfum sollit.

Tekk til orðs, þars alfregnar jartegnir urðu Jórsalamǫnnum; sǫnn tôkn eru sýnd í slíku. {Snillifimr {grundar sal}vǫrðr} sendi bréf af himni, sollit gollstǫfum, til bjargar lýð borgar.

I begin to speak at the point when renowned miracles befell the people of Jerusalem; true tokens are shown in such [a thing]. {The prowess-nimble warden {of the hall of the earth}} [(lit. ‘earth’s hall-warden’) SKY/HEAVEN > = God] sent a letter from heaven, embellished [lit. swollen] with golden letters, as a help for the townspeople.

Mss: B(10v), 624(86), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] Tekk (‘tek ek’): so all others, ‘Tek [...]k’ B    [8] gollstǫfum sollit (‘gullsto᷎fum sullet’): ‘gullstǫfum sullath’ 624

Editions: Skj AI, 619, Skj BI, 623, Skald I, 303; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 58, Rydberg 1907, 5, Attwood 1996a, 61, 172.

Notes: [2] jartegnir ‘miracles’: On the spelling here, see Note to 26/4. — [5] sendi salvǫrðr grundar: Cf. Geisl 19/3: sýndi salvǫro᷎r grundar. — [6] snillifimr ‘prowess-nimble’: This cpd adj. is hap. leg., but a similar construction is found at Has 48/3, where King David is described as snilli vanðr ‘accustomed to eloquence’. — [8] sollit gollstǫfum ‘embellished [lit. swollen] with golden letters’: Normalisation of B’s ‘sullet’ is necessary to preserve the correct sequence of vowels in a Class III strong verb (cf. ANG §489). This in turn necessitates normalisation to goll- in order to preserve the rhyme. Although goll and gull coexisted for a while (ANG §61.1), goll was the more usual form in the early period. For the sake of consistency, gullstǫfum in 7/8 has also been normalised to gollstǫfum, though the rhyme is not affected there. — [8] gollstǫfum ‘with golden letters’: Sunday Letter texts of the first and second recensions conventionally describe the letter as having golden calligraphy (Attwood 2003, 72). Both Abbot Níkulás of Munkaþverá and the author of Kirialax saga mention this in their descriptions of the chapel of S. Simeon, part of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, where the letter was reputed to have landed. For details, see the Introduction.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  4. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  5. Attwood, Katrina. 2003. ‘Leiðarvísan and the “Sunday Letter” Tradition in Iceland’. In Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir et al. 2003, 53-78.
  6. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1844. Fjøgur gømul kvæði. Boðsrit til að hlusta á þá opinberu yfirheyrslu í Bessastaða Skóla þann 22-29 mai 1844. Viðeyar Klaustri: prentuð af Helga Helgasyni, á kostnað Bessastaða Skóla. Bessastaðir: Helgi Helgason.
  8. Internal references
  9. Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 19’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 22-3.
  10. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 48’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 115.

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