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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Líkn 37VII

George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 37’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 271-3.

Anonymous PoemsLíknarbraut
363738

Sæfðu ‘slaughtered’

sœfa (verb): die, kill

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lamb ‘Lamb’

lamb (noun n.; °-s; *-): lamb

[1] lamb: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]amb’ B

notes

[1] lamb guðs ‘Lamb of God’: Restoration of <l> based upon 399a-bˣ and alliteration; a kenning-like formulation from Lat. agnus Dei, based on John I.29.

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guðs ‘of God’

1. guð (noun m.; °***guðrs, guðis, gus): (Christian) God

notes

[1] lamb guðs ‘Lamb of God’: Restoration of <l> based upon 399a-bˣ and alliteration; a kenning-like formulation from Lat. agnus Dei, based on John I.29.

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ljóst ‘the radiant’

ljóss (adj.; °compar. -ari, superl. -astr): bright

notes

[2] ljóst ‘radiant’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 46 and Rydberg 1907, 51 construe as adv. ‘brightly’ with hafa ‘have’ (l. 2).

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hafa ‘they have’

hafa (verb): have

notes

[2] hafa ‘they have’: Ms. ‘h’ with superscript ‘a’; NN §1397 suggests reading ms. abbreviation as hefr ‘(you) have’, agreeing with an implied 2nd pers. subj.; cf. ert (ms. ertu) (l. 3). While addressing the intercalary clause to the Cross would accord with frequent descriptions of the altar covered with blood, the pl. í brjóstum ‘in (their) breasts’ supports the pl. verb. In NN §1397 Kock renders þess ‘its’ (l. 2) as ‘for its sake’ but in §1397 construes it as a rel. pron. referring to lamb (l. 1).

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ert ‘you are’

2. vera (verb): be, is, was, were, are, am

notes

[3-4] ert enn altári í slíku ‘you are still an altar in such [offering]’: The inexactness of í slíku ‘in such (a thing)’ makes the phrase somewhat vague; the reference may be to the role of the Cross in the eucharistic offering of the mass, which symbolically renews the sacrifice of the Lamb.

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enn ‘still’

2. enn (adv.): still, yet, again

notes

[3-4] ert enn altári í slíku ‘you are still an altar in such [offering]’: The inexactness of í slíku ‘in such (a thing)’ makes the phrase somewhat vague; the reference may be to the role of the Cross in the eucharistic offering of the mass, which symbolically renews the sacrifice of the Lamb.

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í ‘in’

í (prep.): in, into

notes

[3-4] ert enn altári í slíku ‘you are still an altar in such [offering]’: The inexactness of í slíku ‘in such (a thing)’ makes the phrase somewhat vague; the reference may be to the role of the Cross in the eucharistic offering of the mass, which symbolically renews the sacrifice of the Lamb.

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slíku ‘such’

2. slíkr (adj.): such

notes

[3-4] ert enn altári í slíku ‘you are still an altar in such [offering]’: The inexactness of í slíku ‘in such (a thing)’ makes the phrase somewhat vague; the reference may be to the role of the Cross in the eucharistic offering of the mass, which symbolically renews the sacrifice of the Lamb.

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altári ‘an altar’

2. altari (noun n.; °-s/-(fx. HómNo¹² 67¹¹); -): altar

notes

[3-4] ert enn altári í slíku ‘you are still an altar in such [offering]’: The inexactness of í slíku ‘in such (a thing)’ makes the phrase somewhat vague; the reference may be to the role of the Cross in the eucharistic offering of the mass, which symbolically renews the sacrifice of the Lamb. — [4] altári ‘altar’: The second <a> is long, as in Lat. altāri. The noun occurs four times in skaldic poetry, but only here in a rhyme position.

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altári ‘an altar’

2. altari (noun n.; °-s/-(fx. HómNo¹² 67¹¹); -): altar

notes

[3-4] ert enn altári í slíku ‘you are still an altar in such [offering]’: The inexactness of í slíku ‘in such (a thing)’ makes the phrase somewhat vague; the reference may be to the role of the Cross in the eucharistic offering of the mass, which symbolically renews the sacrifice of the Lamb. — [4] altári ‘altar’: The second <a> is long, as in Lat. altāri. The noun occurs four times in skaldic poetry, but only here in a rhyme position.

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lög ‘sea’

lǫgr (noun m.; °lagar, dat. legi): sea

kennings

þess lög sára
‘its sea of wounds ’
   = BLOOD

its sea of wounds → BLOOD

notes

[4] lög sára ‘sea of wounds [BLOOD]’: The kenning may play off the nautical images of sts 33-4; cf. benja lögr ‘sea of wounds’ SnSt Ht 60/6III. That those who sacrificed (saefðu, l. 1) the Lamb have its blood í brjóstum ‘in their breasts’ (l. 2) is a sign of their guilt but also, perhaps, of shared humanity with Christ’s human nature, i.e. that they have violated what is kindred.

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sára ‘of wounds’

2. sár (noun n.; °-s; -): wound

kennings

þess lög sára
‘its sea of wounds ’
   = BLOOD

its sea of wounds → BLOOD

notes

[4] lög sára ‘sea of wounds [BLOOD]’: The kenning may play off the nautical images of sts 33-4; cf. benja lögr ‘sea of wounds’ SnSt Ht 60/6III. That those who sacrificed (saefðu, l. 1) the Lamb have its blood í brjóstum ‘in their breasts’ (l. 2) is a sign of their guilt but also, perhaps, of shared humanity with Christ’s human nature, i.e. that they have violated what is kindred.

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laut ‘dell’

laut (noun f.): dell, hollow < lautviðr (noun m.)

kennings

lastbundnirlinns lautviðir
‘dell-trees of the serpent’
   = MEN

the serpent’s dell → GOLD
sin-bound trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[6, 5, 7] lastbundnir lautviðir linns ‘sin-bound dell-trees of the serpent [GOLD > MEN]’: Laut ‘dell’, is a small, wooded hollow or valley, by extension simply ‘land’. Analogous to lastbundnir ‘sin-bound’ is bönd glæpa ‘bonds of sin’ 30/1-2 (cf. Prov. V.22). The combination here of tree, serpent, and sin may be consciously intended to evoke the fall of Adam. If so, the st. has an implicit typological structure, counterbalancing Adam (figura Christi, Rom. V.14) with Christ (the New Adam, 1 Cor. XV.45-9), the Tree of Knowledge with the Tree of Life (the Cross), and original sin with its remedy through the atonement of Christ, the helgasta fórn lífs ‘holiest sacrifice of life’ (ll. 6, 8). From Origen forward, the exegetical and iconographic tradition has placed Adam’s grave (as represented by a skull, see Kirschbaum et al. 1968-76, IV, 343) on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, so that the blood of the Second Adam pours over the first, prefiguring for Adam and his posterity liberation from death and the effects of sin.

Close

laut ‘dell’

laut (noun f.): dell, hollow < lautviðr (noun m.)

kennings

lastbundnirlinns lautviðir
‘dell-trees of the serpent’
   = MEN

the serpent’s dell → GOLD
sin-bound trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[6, 5, 7] lastbundnir lautviðir linns ‘sin-bound dell-trees of the serpent [GOLD > MEN]’: Laut ‘dell’, is a small, wooded hollow or valley, by extension simply ‘land’. Analogous to lastbundnir ‘sin-bound’ is bönd glæpa ‘bonds of sin’ 30/1-2 (cf. Prov. V.22). The combination here of tree, serpent, and sin may be consciously intended to evoke the fall of Adam. If so, the st. has an implicit typological structure, counterbalancing Adam (figura Christi, Rom. V.14) with Christ (the New Adam, 1 Cor. XV.45-9), the Tree of Knowledge with the Tree of Life (the Cross), and original sin with its remedy through the atonement of Christ, the helgasta fórn lífs ‘holiest sacrifice of life’ (ll. 6, 8). From Origen forward, the exegetical and iconographic tradition has placed Adam’s grave (as represented by a skull, see Kirschbaum et al. 1968-76, IV, 343) on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, so that the blood of the Second Adam pours over the first, prefiguring for Adam and his posterity liberation from death and the effects of sin.

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viðir ‘trees’

1. viðr (noun m.; °-ar, dat. -i/-; -ir, acc. -u/-i): wood, tree < lautviðr (noun m.)

kennings

lastbundnirlinns lautviðir
‘dell-trees of the serpent’
   = MEN

the serpent’s dell → GOLD
sin-bound trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[6, 5, 7] lastbundnir lautviðir linns ‘sin-bound dell-trees of the serpent [GOLD > MEN]’: Laut ‘dell’, is a small, wooded hollow or valley, by extension simply ‘land’. Analogous to lastbundnir ‘sin-bound’ is bönd glæpa ‘bonds of sin’ 30/1-2 (cf. Prov. V.22). The combination here of tree, serpent, and sin may be consciously intended to evoke the fall of Adam. If so, the st. has an implicit typological structure, counterbalancing Adam (figura Christi, Rom. V.14) with Christ (the New Adam, 1 Cor. XV.45-9), the Tree of Knowledge with the Tree of Life (the Cross), and original sin with its remedy through the atonement of Christ, the helgasta fórn lífs ‘holiest sacrifice of life’ (ll. 6, 8). From Origen forward, the exegetical and iconographic tradition has placed Adam’s grave (as represented by a skull, see Kirschbaum et al. 1968-76, IV, 343) on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, so that the blood of the Second Adam pours over the first, prefiguring for Adam and his posterity liberation from death and the effects of sin.

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last ‘sin’

last (noun n.; °-): fault, sin, vice < lastbundinn (adj./verb p.p.)

kennings

lastbundnirlinns lautviðir
‘dell-trees of the serpent’
   = MEN

the serpent’s dell → GOLD
sin-bound trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[6, 5, 7] lastbundnir lautviðir linns ‘sin-bound dell-trees of the serpent [GOLD > MEN]’: Laut ‘dell’, is a small, wooded hollow or valley, by extension simply ‘land’. Analogous to lastbundnir ‘sin-bound’ is bönd glæpa ‘bonds of sin’ 30/1-2 (cf. Prov. V.22). The combination here of tree, serpent, and sin may be consciously intended to evoke the fall of Adam. If so, the st. has an implicit typological structure, counterbalancing Adam (figura Christi, Rom. V.14) with Christ (the New Adam, 1 Cor. XV.45-9), the Tree of Knowledge with the Tree of Life (the Cross), and original sin with its remedy through the atonement of Christ, the helgasta fórn lífs ‘holiest sacrifice of life’ (ll. 6, 8). From Origen forward, the exegetical and iconographic tradition has placed Adam’s grave (as represented by a skull, see Kirschbaum et al. 1968-76, IV, 343) on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, so that the blood of the Second Adam pours over the first, prefiguring for Adam and his posterity liberation from death and the effects of sin.

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bundnir ‘bound’

binda (verb; °bindr; batt/bant(cf. [$332$]), bundu; bundinn): bind, tie < lastbundinn (adj./verb p.p.)

kennings

lastbundnirlinns lautviðir
‘dell-trees of the serpent’
   = MEN

the serpent’s dell → GOLD
sin-bound trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[6, 5, 7] lastbundnir lautviðir linns ‘sin-bound dell-trees of the serpent [GOLD > MEN]’: Laut ‘dell’, is a small, wooded hollow or valley, by extension simply ‘land’. Analogous to lastbundnir ‘sin-bound’ is bönd glæpa ‘bonds of sin’ 30/1-2 (cf. Prov. V.22). The combination here of tree, serpent, and sin may be consciously intended to evoke the fall of Adam. If so, the st. has an implicit typological structure, counterbalancing Adam (figura Christi, Rom. V.14) with Christ (the New Adam, 1 Cor. XV.45-9), the Tree of Knowledge with the Tree of Life (the Cross), and original sin with its remedy through the atonement of Christ, the helgasta fórn lífs ‘holiest sacrifice of life’ (ll. 6, 8). From Origen forward, the exegetical and iconographic tradition has placed Adam’s grave (as represented by a skull, see Kirschbaum et al. 1968-76, IV, 343) on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, so that the blood of the Second Adam pours over the first, prefiguring for Adam and his posterity liberation from death and the effects of sin.

Close

linns ‘of the serpent’s ’

linnr (noun m.): snake

kennings

lastbundnirlinns lautviðir
‘dell-trees of the serpent’
   = MEN

the serpent’s dell → GOLD
sin-bound trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[6, 5, 7] lastbundnir lautviðir linns ‘sin-bound dell-trees of the serpent [GOLD > MEN]’: Laut ‘dell’, is a small, wooded hollow or valley, by extension simply ‘land’. Analogous to lastbundnir ‘sin-bound’ is bönd glæpa ‘bonds of sin’ 30/1-2 (cf. Prov. V.22). The combination here of tree, serpent, and sin may be consciously intended to evoke the fall of Adam. If so, the st. has an implicit typological structure, counterbalancing Adam (figura Christi, Rom. V.14) with Christ (the New Adam, 1 Cor. XV.45-9), the Tree of Knowledge with the Tree of Life (the Cross), and original sin with its remedy through the atonement of Christ, the helgasta fórn lífs ‘holiest sacrifice of life’ (ll. 6, 8). From Origen forward, the exegetical and iconographic tradition has placed Adam’s grave (as represented by a skull, see Kirschbaum et al. 1968-76, IV, 343) on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, so that the blood of the Second Adam pours over the first, prefiguring for Adam and his posterity liberation from death and the effects of sin.

Close

linns ‘of the serpent’s ’

linnr (noun m.): snake

kennings

lastbundnirlinns lautviðir
‘dell-trees of the serpent’
   = MEN

the serpent’s dell → GOLD
sin-bound trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[6, 5, 7] lastbundnir lautviðir linns ‘sin-bound dell-trees of the serpent [GOLD > MEN]’: Laut ‘dell’, is a small, wooded hollow or valley, by extension simply ‘land’. Analogous to lastbundnir ‘sin-bound’ is bönd glæpa ‘bonds of sin’ 30/1-2 (cf. Prov. V.22). The combination here of tree, serpent, and sin may be consciously intended to evoke the fall of Adam. If so, the st. has an implicit typological structure, counterbalancing Adam (figura Christi, Rom. V.14) with Christ (the New Adam, 1 Cor. XV.45-9), the Tree of Knowledge with the Tree of Life (the Cross), and original sin with its remedy through the atonement of Christ, the helgasta fórn lífs ‘holiest sacrifice of life’ (ll. 6, 8). From Origen forward, the exegetical and iconographic tradition has placed Adam’s grave (as represented by a skull, see Kirschbaum et al. 1968-76, IV, 343) on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, so that the blood of the Second Adam pours over the first, prefiguring for Adam and his posterity liberation from death and the effects of sin.

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lausn ‘liberation’

lausn (noun f.; °-ar; -ir/-ar (RbHM (*1315)³ 113²‡)): liberation, redemption

notes

[7] lausn ‘liberation, release’: Within the helmingr’s pattern of contrasts, the noun lausn (from leysa ‘to loosen, unbind’) plays against, and provides the solution for, lastbundnir ‘sin-bound’ (cf. lausnari ‘releaser, redeemer’).

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

The Cross as altar (altári, l. 4), on which the Lamb of God is sacrificed, is a frequent Christian image. See, e.g., the final st. of Fortunatus’ Vexilla regis which begins Salve, ara, salve victima ‘Hail, altar, hail, victim’ (Bulst 1956, 129), and st. 5 of the sequence Laudes crucis attollamus, attr. Adam of S. Victor (C12th) O quam felix, quam praeclara / Fuit haec salutis ara / Rubens agni sanguine ‘O how blessed, O how famous, was this altar of salvation, growing red with the blood of the Lamb’ (AH 54, 188; cf. AH 8, 26 and 30). The idea occurs also in Icel. liturgical mss: ara crucis ‘altar of the Cross’ in De sancta cruce missa, AM 98 I 8° (C13th, Gjerløw 1980, I, 35) and tu amara crucis ara ‘you bitter altar of the Cross’ in the hymn for Vespers, attr. Bonaventure (C13th), in AM 241 a fol (early C14th, Gjerløw 1980, I, 223); cf. Gimsteinn 104/1 Alltare erttu gudz ‘you are the altar of God’ (ÍM I.2, 327). — [5-8]: The same alliterative pattern (‘l’) occurs throughout the helmingr, echoing that of the st.’s first couplet. The recurrence of ‘l’, not only in regular alliteration but elsewhere (slíku, l. 3; altári, lög, l. 4; helgasta, l. 6), continually ties the st. back to the lamb ‘Lamb’ (l. 1).

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