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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Líkn 23VII

George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 23’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 253-4.

Anonymous PoemsLíknarbraut

Lík fór kennir keykja
krapts með önd til graptar
sitt, ok sæll reis dróttinn
sólar hauðrs af dauða.
Urðu allir fyrðar
angrhegnanda fegnir,
áðr þá er elsku fæðis
aldyggs bani hryggði.

{Kennir krapts} fór til graptar keykja lík sitt með önd, ok {sæll dróttinn {sólar hauðrs}} reis af dauða. Allir fyrðar urðu fegnir {angrhegnanda}, þá er bani {aldyggs fæðis elsku} áðr hryggði.

{The knower of strength} [POWERFUL MAN] went to the grave to quicken his body with spirit, and {the blessed Lord {of sun’s land}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)] arose from death. All men became glad {at the harm-suppressor} [= God (= Christ)], those whom the death {of the fully loyal nourisher of love} [= God (= Christ)] earlier grieved.

Mss: B(11v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [3] reis: ‘re[...]’ B, reiṣ 399a‑bˣ    [8] bani: bana B, 399a‑bˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 154, Skj BII, 166, Skald II, 88; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 42, Rydberg 1907, 15, 50, Tate 1974, 68.

Notes: [1, 2] kennir krapts ‘knower of strength [POWERFUL MAN = Christ]’: The agent noun kennir occurs only in poetry; of God elsewhere only in Pl 8/1 kennir engla ‘knower of the angels’. Besides ‘knower’ kennir (from kenna) might also mean ‘perceiver’, ‘tester’, ‘announcer’, or ‘teacher’. The kenning is a variation on a common type, in which a man is described as a kennir of gold, battle, weapons, etc. — [1] keykja ‘to quicken’: Skj B and Skald emend to the usual keykva. The -ja form does not appear in LP, CVC, or Fritzner but occurs as a headword in AEW. This is the only occurrence of either in ON poetry. The verb is rich in christological significance; cf., with respect to Resurrection, Lat. vivifico (Gk ζωοποιέω) ‘to quicken, give life’ in such passages as John V.21, Rom. IV.17, and VIII.11. — [3-4] dróttinn sólar hauðrs reis af dauða ‘the Lord of sun’s land [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)] arose from death’: In combination with the kenning, the verb equates Christ’s Resurrection with the rising of the sun, a common theme in hymns for prime. Line 4 is identical to Leið 31/4, which also concerns the Resurrection. — [5-8]: Generally analogous to the second helmingr is a passage from the OIcel. Resurrection homily: Sa vas oc margfaldr fǫgnoþr i þessom heime af upriso criz es tóko ástmeɴ hans. þeir áþr vǫro hryɢver oc daprer af dauþa hans ‘Thus there was also manifold happiness in this world at the Resurrection of Christ when he met his beloved [followers]; they were before despondent and downcast at his death’ (HómÍsl 1993, 34r; HómÍsl 1872, 72). — [7] fæðis elsku ‘of the nourisher of love [= God (= Christ)]’: Fæðir might have the extended sense here of ‘creator’; cf. líknfæðir ‘author of grace’ 47/8 and fæðir fremðarráðs ‘nourisher of propitious counsel’ 26/7. Both senses play off the theme of abundance in the poem. — [8] bani (nom.) ‘the death, slayer of’: Ms. bana. All subsequent eds accept the emendation of Sveinbjörn Egilsson, which is supported, as he notes, by the similar nom. dauði ‘the death of’ in Has 28/7, a st. also on the Resurrection and which employs in its final l., as here, the rhyme aldygg- : hryggði (l. 8), as well as fegn- : áðr þá in the same positions in ll. 6-7.


  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. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  5. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Tate, George S. 1974. ‘Líknarbraut: A Skaldic Drápa on the Cross’. Ph.D. thesis. Cornell University. DAI 35:6112A.
  7. 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.
  8. HómÍsl 1872 = Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1872. Homiliu-bók: Isländska homilier efter en handskrift från tolfte århundredet. Lund: Gleerup.
  9. HómÍsl 1993 = de Leeuw van Weenen, Andrea, ed. 1993. The Icelandic Homily Book: Perg. 15 4° in the Royal Library, Stockholm. Íslensk handrit/Icelandic Manuscripts Series in quarto 3. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar á Íslandi.
  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. 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.
  13. Jonna Louis-Jensen and Tarrin Wills (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Plácitusdrápa 8’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 187.
  14. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 28’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 97.

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