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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Líkn 11VII

George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 11’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 241-3.

Anonymous PoemsLíknarbraut

text and translation

Kosti alls af ástum
— einsætt er þat — hreinum
(magn stýri því) meira
maðr hverr (svika þverris);
þvít margfalda mildi,
minn lausnari, þína
hverja stund at höndum
hlífrunnum lætr svífa.

Hverr maðr kosti alls meira af hreinum ástum; þat er einsætt; magn {þverris svika} stýri því; þvít, minn lausnari, lætr þína margfalda mildi svífa hverja stund at höndum {hlífrunnum}.
‘Let each man strive all the more out of pure loves; that is the only choice; may the power of the diminisher of falsehoods [VIRTUOUS RULER = Christ] govern it; because, my Saviour, you allow your manifold mercy to glide every hour into the hands of shield-bushes [WARRIORS].

notes and context

At 11v l. 13 of ms. B full vel ‘very well’ appears as a marginal comment in a later hand. — [1-4]: The first helmingr presents difficulties, and none of the several possibilities is fully satisfactory. Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Rydberg maintain the ms. readings of hreinan (l. 2) and þverri (l. 4); Sveinbjörn also emends af (l. 1) to of and reads ástar for ms. ástum (l. 1). His arrangement, given in LP (1860): kosta, is hverr maðr kosti alls meira (= öllu fremr) ástar of hreinan svíka þverri, which, using a sense of kosta otherwise unattested, he translates loosely as ‘let each man show love (amorem erga quem exhibere, aliquem amare) all the more for the pure diminisher of falsehoods’. Without emendation, Rydberg construes as follows: hverr maðr kosti hreinan svíka þverri alls meira af ástum – þat er einsætt – magn stýri því ‘let each man prove/cost (?) the pure diminisher of falsehoods all the more out of love(s) – that is the only choice – may might govern it (?)’. The crux is the verb kosta (related to kjósa ‘to choose’). In the meaning ‘to try, put to the test’ it takes a gen. object (or inf. ‘to try to’); if ‘to cost’ or ‘defray expenses’ it takes acc. ‘Let each man cost Christ all the more out of love’ make no sense. If, however, an acc. object could work for ‘try, prove’, there would be a good biblical analogue in Mal. III.10 in which the Lord invites his people to try him (probate me) to see if he will not bless them abundantly. Another issue is whether stýri (l. 3) could be, rather than subj. of stýra ‘to rule, govern’, the acc. of stýrir in a Christ-kenning magnstýrir ‘might-ruler’ (or even magnstýrir alls ‘might-ruler of all/the universe’ (ll. 3,1)); cf. lífstýrir ‘life-ruler’ 5/2, himinstýrir ‘ruler of heaven’ 38/4, and vegstýrir ‘glory-ruler’ Has 59/6. Assuming, again, an acc. object of kosta and taking magnstýri in apposition to svíka þverri (l. 4), this would give hverr maðr kosti því meira hreinan magnstýri alls, svíka þverri, af ástum – þat er einsætt ‘let each man the more prove the pure might-ruler of all, the diminisher of falsehoods, out of loves – that is the only choice’. Not having found another attestation of kosta ‘try, prove’ with acc. object, however, this ed. reluctantly follows Skj B and Skald in emending ms. hreinan to hreinum and þverri to gen. þverris and in construing the helmingr with the w.o. above.



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 [XIII], C. 1. Líknarbraut 11: AII, 152, BII, 163, Skald II, 86; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 38, Rydberg 1907, 13, 48, Tate 1974, 56.


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