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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Leið 9VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Leiðarvísan 9’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 147-9.

Anonymous PoemsLeiðarvísan

Hætt kveðr heilagr dróttinn
hyrskerðǫndum verða
arms, þeims eigi þyrma
alfríðs sonar tíðum.
Því ro fluggreddar fœddir
fleins með ýmsum meinum;
bæði bǫrn ok móðir
báglundask fyr stundum.

Heilagr dróttinn kveðr verða hætt {{arms hyr}skerðǫndum}, þeims eigi þyrma tíðum alfríðs sonar; því ro {{fleins flug}greddar} fœddir með ýmsum meinum; bæði bǫrn ok móðir báglundask fyr stundum.

The Holy Lord says it will become dangerous {for the diminishers {of the fire of the arm}} [(lit. ‘arm’s fire-diminishers’) GOLD > GENEROUS MEN], for those who do not respect the festivals of the altogether beautiful Son. Therefore {nourishers {of spear-flight}} [(lit. ‘flight-nourishers of the spear’) BATTLE > WARRIORS] are born with various defects; both children and their mother quarrel from time to time.

Mss: B(10v), 624(86-87), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [3] þyrma: so 624, ‘þýr[...]’ B, þyr(m)a(?) 399a‑bˣ    [5] ‑greddar: ‑raddar B, 624    [7] bǫrn: so 624, 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]o᷎rn’ B;    ok: so 624, ‘[...]’ B;    móðir: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]oder’ B, ‘mædur’ 624

Editions: Skj AI, 620, Skj BI, 624, Skald I, 303, NN §§1260, 2557; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 59, Rydberg 1907, 5, Attwood 1996a, 61-2, 173.

Notes: [5-8]: Attwood 1996a, 191-2 understood this helmingr to refer to the nature of the torments which will befall those who do not respect the festivals of the Church, drawing parallels with much more graphic and detailed descriptions in other versions of the Sunday Letter. However, it would be equally possible to understand st. 9 as stating that life will become dangerous for those who do not keep Christian observances because mankind is imperfect and sinful and there are even disagreements between those one would expect to be most harmonious, viz. mothers and their children. — [5-8]: These ll. are difficult to construe, largely because of the uncertain status of the kenning in ll. 5-6. Readings that attempt to construct a man-kenning here involve considerable emendation. On the other hand, failure to emend results in what appears to be a battle-kenning flugraddar fleins ‘flight-voices of the arrow’, which does not make sense in context and does not agree with fœddir (m. nom. pl.) ‘born’. It is possible that –raddar (l. 5) is a corruption of some agent noun designating men or warriors. Here it is assumed to form the base-word of a kenning for warriors by emending -raddar to -greddar ‘feeders, nourishers’, following a suggestion of Kari Ellen Gade. In ll. 5-6 B reads ‘þui eru flugraddar fędder fleins med ymsum meinum’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (notes preserved in 444ˣ and 1844, 59) suggested normalisation of ‘fędder’ to fœddir, m. nom. pl. of the participial adj. formed from fœða ‘to give birth to, be born, be brought up’, taken with B’s pl. verb eru (l. 5). He is followed by Skj B and this edn. Sveinbjörn and Skj B also emend l. 8 to bág lundar ferr stundum, constructing a man-kenning lundar fleins flugraddar ‘groves of the arrow’s flight-voice’ [BATTLE > WARRIORS]. The helmingr is then construed því eru fleins flugraddar lundar fœddir með ymsum meinum; bæði bǫrn ok móðir ferr stundum bág ‘therefore the groves of the arrow’s flight-voice are born with various defects; both children and the mother sometimes suffer difficulty’. Kock (NN §1260 and Skald), followed by Attwood 1996a, emend B’s ‘fędder’ to fœðir ‘feeder’, which requires only minor additional emendation to the sg. es ‘is’ in l. 5. This produces a warrior-kenning, fœðir fluggraddar fleins ‘feeder of the flight-voice of the arrow’ and a statement that he, presumably representing mankind, has various pains. The sg. usage here is rather curious, however, if the poet is alluding to human imperfections in general. In NN §2557 (and Skald), Kock introduces a further emendation to flughríðar fœðir ‘feeder of the flight-storm’, claiming that raddar is a garbled form of ríðar, i.e. hríðar. Although flugrǫdd ‘flight-voice’ is not attested elsewhere, battle-kennings on the model ‘weapon + rǫdd’ are very common in the skaldic corpus (see LP: rǫdd), though it is worth noting that LP does not list another cpd using an abstract concept such as flug instead of the word for ‘weapon’. — [8] báglundask fyrir stundum: Although the verb báglunda ‘to become obstreperous, quarrel’ is not otherwise attested in either poetry or prose, there is both a noun and adj. bágr ‘difficul(ty), trouble(some)’ (see ONP) and the adj. báglundr ‘spiteful, warlike’ occurs in Gestr Lv 1/6III, where Snorri goði is characterised as báglundr goði ‘a spiteful priest’. See also Fritzner: lundaðr ‘minded, of a particular disposition’ = lyndr.


  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. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  7. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  9. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  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.
  11. Internal references
  12. Not published: do not cite (Gestr Lv 1V (Heið 1))

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