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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Líkn 22VII

George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 22’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 252-3.

Anonymous PoemsLíknarbraut

text and translation

Kvaliðr sté öllum æðri
ítr gramr til helvítis
dægra láðs ept dauða
djöfla rann at kanna.
Leysti sinn at sönnu
sólhallar gramr allan
lýð fyr lífstré þjóðar
líknarstyrkr frá myrkrum.

{Kvaliðr ítr gramr {dægra láðs}}, öllum æðri, sté ept dauða til helvítis at kanna {rann djöfla}. {Líknarstyrkr gramr {sólhallar}} leysti at sönnu allan sinn lýð frá myrkrum fyr {lífstré þjóðar}.
‘The tormented glorious king of days’ land [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)], higher than all, descended after death to Hell to explore the house of devils [HELL]. The mercy-strong king of sun’s hall [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)] freed truly all his people from darkness by means of the life-tree of mankind [CROSS].

notes and context

A frequent motif in representations of the Harrowing of Hell is that of light – associated here with Christ through sól ‘sun’ (l. 6) and perhaps dægra láð ‘days’ land’ (l. 3) in the kennings – penetrating the darkness (myrkrum, dat. pl., l. 8) as it moves from the highest realm to the lowest. See, e.g., Niðrst1 I.7: Cristr ferr her nu oc rekr a braut meþ liose guþdoms sins dauþa myrcr... ‘Now Christ goes here and dispels the darkness of death with the light of his godhead...’ (Hms II, 6).



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 22: AII, 154, BII, 166, Skald II, 88, NN §30; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 42, Rydberg 1907, 15, 50, Tate 1974, 67.


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