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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Líkn 41VII

George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 41’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 276-7.

Anonymous PoemsLíknarbraut

text and translation

Engr fær töld með tungu
tákn þín, er nú skína,
hjálpar hneigistólpi
heims alls, of kyn beima.
Æxtr ferr valt til vaxtar
vegr þinn, er berr fegri,
hreinn, en hugðu vinnim,
hverja dýrð, of skýrða.

{Hneigistólpi alls heims hjálpar}, engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín, er nú skína of kyn beima. Hreinn vegr þinn, er berr hverja dýrð fegri en vinnim of skýrða hugðu, ferr valt æxtr til vaxtar.
‘Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation [CROSS], none can enumerate with tongue your signs, which now shine upon the race of men. Your pure honour, which bears every glory fairer than we might express in thought, grows continually greater.

notes and context

[5-8]: The helmingr is problematic and cannot be resolved without emendation. This edn follows Rydberg’s emendation of (l. 8), and Skj B’s Æxtr (l. 5). The various approaches can be characterised as follows: Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 48 attempts to salvage the ms. readings, normalising only adv. valt to n. vald ‘power’. His construction, found in LP (1860): æxti and berr, is æxt vald ferr til fegri vaxtar, en vinnim hugðu ór skýrða hverja dýrð – þinn hreinn vegr er berr, or to translate his Lat. ‘The distinguished power (of the Cross) rises into growths too beautiful for us to be able in thought to explicate its every excellent virtue – your clear glory is manifest’. But this is awkward, loosely translated, and depends on inexact meanings, e.g. berr (manifesta ‘manifest’). Rydberg 1907, 52 follows this construction but emends ór (l. 8) to of. He understands hugðu (dat.) (l. 7) simply as ‘in [our] thought’, as does this edn. Skj B emends (as here) æxt to æxtr and (like Rydberg) ór to of, construing hugðu (l. 7) as p.p. of hyggja (LP: hugðu fegri ‘fairer than is thought’); Finnur Jónsson then arranges the subordinate clause as er berr hverja dýrð hugðu fegri en of vinnim skyrða ‘which bears each glory, more beautiful than can be thought (and more beautiful) than we can express’. NN §1398 (cf. Skald), accepting æxtr for æxt, emends hugðu to hugða, paralleling skýrða (l. 8), and ór (Skj B of) to ok (l. 8); Kock then translates ‘Your honour, the pure, which possesses every beauty, (is) fairer than we can think or express’. But this is again rather free and requires three emendations.



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 41: AII, 157-8, BII, 171, Skald II, 90, NN §1398; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 47-8, Rydberg 1907, 18, 52, Tate 1974, 86.


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