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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Leið 8VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Leiðarvísan 8’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 147.

Anonymous PoemsLeiðarvísan

Sagði bréf, hvat brygði
bitr fár guma ári,
blakks skreytendum brautar
borðs frá dróttins orðum.
‘Hljóta víst’, kvað veitir
vegfróðr hluta góðra,
‘menn þeirs minn dag vinna,
mest angr af því flestir.’

Bréf sagði {skreytendum {blakks {brautar borðs}}} frá orðum dróttins, hvat bitr fár brygði ári guma. {Vegfróðr veitir góðra hluta} kvað: ‘Flestir menn, þeirs vinna dag minn, hljóta víst mest angr af því’.

The letter told {the furnishers {of the horse {of the path of the plank}}} [SEA > SHIP > SEAFARER] about the Lord’s words, what bitter harm could alter the good fortune of men. {The way-wise giver of good things} [= God] said: ‘Most men who work on my day will certainly gain the greatest sorrow from it’.

Mss: B(10v), 624(86), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [2] guma: gumna 624    [4] borðs: borð B, 624    [8] angr: so 624, 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]gr’ B

Editions: Skj AI, 619-20, Skj BI, 624, Skald I, 303, NN §2140; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 59, Rydberg 1907, 5, Attwood 1996a, 61, 172.

Notes: [1] hvat ‘what’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends B’s ‘huad’ to hver, considering the phrase hver bitr fár to be pl. and the verb brygði (l. 1) also pl., translating hvilke bitre mén skadede mændenes lykke ‘what bitter injuries damaged peoples’ good fortune’. Brygði can also be 3rd pers. sg. pret. subj. and could thus have a sg. subject. Kock (NN §2140) reads hvat bitr fár (sg.) with a sg. verb, and this reading is followed here. — [2] guma ‘of men’: A rarer variant than gumna (so 624): see ANG §401.3. — [3-4] skreytendum blakks brautar borðs ‘furnishers of the horse of the path of the plank [SEA > SHIPS > SEAFARERS]’: That the apparent retention of B’s reading borð nom. or acc. ‘plank’ in Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s 1844 edn is a misprint is confirmed by Lbs. 1152 8°ˣ (Sveinbjörn’s print copy) which has borðs gen. Sveinbjörn himself first suggested the emendation to borðs in a note to 444ˣ. — [6] vegfróðr ‘way-wise’: Skj B understands as hæderkyndig ‘honour-wise’, which is further glossed in LP as i besiddelse af hæder ‘in possession of honour’ (cf. LP (1860)’s gloss gloriosus ‘famous, renowned’). Though this interpretation is perfectly possible, the first element of the cpd may also be understood as acc. of m. vegr ‘way, path’. Vegfróðr ‘way-wise’ is a suitable adj. to describe God; see Note to vegskrýðendr (5/6) above.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  7. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  8. 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.
  9. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  10. 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.

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