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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
212223

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].

Mss: B(11v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] öllum æðri: ‘o᷎ll[...] ed[...]’ B, ‘öll[...]’ 399a‑bˣ    [5] at sönnu: ‘[...]t s[...]nnu’ B, ‘at sẹ⸜o᷎⸝nnu’ 399a‑bˣ    [6] sólhallar: ‘[...]hallar’ B, ‘s[...]hallar’ 399a‑bˣ

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

Notes: [All]: 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). — [1] öllum æðri ‘higher than all’: A plausible conjecture by Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 42, adopted by all subsequent eds. In B only <e> for <æ> is visible, but the hook ‘e᷎’ was likely lost in the split above the letter. — [2, 6] gramr ‘king’: The same noun appears, unusually, as base-word of a Christ-kenning in each helmingr, each time in the second l. Of Christ in the context of the Harrowing, the choice is also somewhat odd; deriving from the adj. gramr ‘angry, hostile’, the pl. is often used substantively of ‘fiends’ (cf. djöfla rann, l. 4), the very beings his radiance overcomes. — [5, 6, 7] leysti ... allan sinn lýð ‘freed all his people’: Cf. the late medieval Niðurstigningsvísur 35/6 leyste alla lydi sin and þu leyster alla lydi 37/3 (ÍM I.2, 234). — [5] sönnu ‘in truth, truly’: Restoration based upon 399a-bˣ, including superscript notation; either <o> (<o᷎>) or <e> is possible from the remnants. — [6] sólhallar ‘of the sun’s hall’: In B lower tips of possible long <s> and <l> remain; Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 42) suggests sólhallar, which all have accepted. ‘Sun’ + ‘building’ is a common kenning type for ‘heaven’. — [7] fyr lífstré ‘by means of the tree of life’: Tree of life (arbor vitae) is ubiquitous in reference to the Cross. The instrumentality of the Cross at the Harrowing is also a common iconographic detail. In Niðrst1 I. 7-8, e.g., after Christ has broken down the portals of hell, the liberated captives tell Satan that it is fyrer crosstre ‘by means of the cross-tree’ that he has been vanquished, and Adam praises Christ for rescuing them with his might and with the marki cross ‘sign of the cross’ (Hms II, 6-7). The late medieval Krosskvæði 26/3-4 echoes this idea: ok i hendi bar | sigrmerki sitt ‘and he bore in his hand his victory-sign’ at the Harrowing (ÍM I.2, 281). The prep. fyr also introduces the instrumentality of the Cross in 31/6 where it is by means of the Cross that Christ opened heaven for mankind. — [8] líknarstyrkr ... frá myrkrum ‘mercy-strong ... from darkness’: Cf. Leið 31/8, also of the Harrowing.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  5. Tate, George S. 1974. ‘Líknarbraut: A Skaldic Drápa on the Cross’. Ph.D. thesis. Cornell University. DAI 35:6112A.
  6. ÍM = Jón Helgason, ed. 1936-8. Íslenzk miðaldarkvæði: Islandske digte fra senmiddelalderen. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  7. Hms = Heilagra manna søgur.
  8. 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.
  9. Internal references
  10. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Leiðarvísan 24’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 162-3.
  11. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Leiðarvísan 31’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 168.
  12. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Drápa af Máríugrát 9’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 766.
  13. Not published: do not cite (Arngr Gd 41IV)
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