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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
404142

Engr ‘none’

2. engi (pron.): no, none

[1] Engr: engi B, 399a‑bˣ

notes

[1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr.

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fær ‘can’

2. fá (verb; °fǽr; fekk, fengu; fenginn): get, receive

[1] fær töld: ‘ferr to᷎l[...]’ B, ‘ferr to᷎ld’ 399a‑bˣ

notes

[1] fær töld ‘can enumerate’: Since the ‘er’-abbreviation can also represent <e᷎r> (<ær>), as in væri 10/3, this is not strictly an emendation (as first proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson), and cf. ferr (l. 5). — [1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr.

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fær ‘can’

2. fá (verb; °fǽr; fekk, fengu; fenginn): get, receive

[1] fær töld: ‘ferr to᷎l[...]’ B, ‘ferr to᷎ld’ 399a‑bˣ

notes

[1] fær töld ‘can enumerate’: Since the ‘er’-abbreviation can also represent <e᷎r> (<ær>), as in væri 10/3, this is not strictly an emendation (as first proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson), and cf. ferr (l. 5). — [1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr.

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töld ‘enumerate’

telja (verb): tell, count

[1] fær töld: ‘ferr to᷎l[...]’ B, ‘ferr to᷎ld’ 399a‑bˣ

notes

[1] fær töld ‘can enumerate’: Since the ‘er’-abbreviation can also represent <e᷎r> (<ær>), as in væri 10/3, this is not strictly an emendation (as first proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson), and cf. ferr (l. 5). — [1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr.

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töld ‘enumerate’

telja (verb): tell, count

[1] fær töld: ‘ferr to᷎l[...]’ B, ‘ferr to᷎ld’ 399a‑bˣ

notes

[1] fær töld ‘can enumerate’: Since the ‘er’-abbreviation can also represent <e᷎r> (<ær>), as in væri 10/3, this is not strictly an emendation (as first proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson), and cf. ferr (l. 5). — [1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr.

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með ‘with’

með (prep.): with

notes

[1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr.

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tungu ‘tongue’

tunga (noun f.; °-u; -ur): tongue, language

notes

[1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr.

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tákn ‘signs’

tákn (noun n.; °-s; -): token

notes

[1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr.

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þín ‘your’

þinn (pron.; °f. þín, n. þitt): your

notes

[1] engr fær töld með tungu tákn þín ‘none can enumerate with tongue your signs’: Cf. Arngr Gd 51/1, 3IV, a C14th poem which borrows from Líkn several details, táknin öll ... eingi fær þau talt með tungu ‘all the signs ... none can ennumerate them with tongue’. Ineffability is a topos of mystical poetry in particular, as in the Bernardine Jubilus (AH 19, 190) nec lingua potest dicere ‘nor can tongue express’. In order to achieve a six-syllable l. Rydberg, Skj B, and Skald normalise, as here, ms. ‘Eingí’ to the early variant engr.

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skína ‘shine’

skína (verb): shine

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hjálpar ‘salvation’

hjǫlp (noun f.; °hjalpar; hjalpir/hjalpar): help, salvation

kennings

Hneigistólpi alls heims hjálpar,
‘Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, ’
   = CROSS

Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, → CROSS

notes

[3] hneigistólpi ... hjálpar ‘inclining pillar ... of salvation [CROSS]’: Stólpi ‘pillar, column’, is used in Veraldar saga to translate the pillar of light that guided the Israelites in Exod. XIII (Jakob Benediktsson 1944, 26 and 83). The Cross as column or pillar is a rare image (cf. sigrstóð ‘victory-post’ 42/2). Rabanus Maurus (C9th) calls the Cross columna et firmamentum veritatis ‘the column and mainstay of truth’ (De laudibus sanctae crucis, col. 169; Perrin 1997, 59). Possibly influenced by Líkn, the image occurs in Mgr 13/2-3 where Mary tells how she watched as Christ bore on his shoulders the hjálpar stólpa til píslar ‘pillar of salvation [CROSS] to the torment’. (Mary herself is called hjálpar stólpi in Mdr 41/5 and Pét 5/7). ‘Inclining’ (hneigi-, from hneigja ‘incline, bow down’, as in 3/1-4 hneig heyrn þína ‘incline your hearing’) may, as LP (1860) and LP propose, suggest the idea of leaning forward as if proffering a gift; cf. the kenning in Kálf Kátr 45/6-7 hneigiþollr öglis túna ‘giving tree of hawk’s home fields [ARM > GENEROUS MAN]’. But here the image is more likely based upon st. 9 of Fortunatus’ Pange lingua, in which the poet tenderly entreats the Cross to bend in order to ease Christ’s suffering: Flecte ramos, arbor alta, tensa laxa viscera / et rigor lentescat ille, quem dedit nativitas ‘Bend your branches, noble tree; relax your tense fibres, and let the firmness nature gave you become pliant’ (Bulst 1957, 128).

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hneigi ‘Inclining’

hneigja (verb): pay homage < hneigistolpi (noun m.)

kennings

Hneigistólpi alls heims hjálpar,
‘Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, ’
   = CROSS

Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, → CROSS

notes

[3] hneigistólpi ... hjálpar ‘inclining pillar ... of salvation [CROSS]’: Stólpi ‘pillar, column’, is used in Veraldar saga to translate the pillar of light that guided the Israelites in Exod. XIII (Jakob Benediktsson 1944, 26 and 83). The Cross as column or pillar is a rare image (cf. sigrstóð ‘victory-post’ 42/2). Rabanus Maurus (C9th) calls the Cross columna et firmamentum veritatis ‘the column and mainstay of truth’ (De laudibus sanctae crucis, col. 169; Perrin 1997, 59). Possibly influenced by Líkn, the image occurs in Mgr 13/2-3 where Mary tells how she watched as Christ bore on his shoulders the hjálpar stólpa til píslar ‘pillar of salvation [CROSS] to the torment’. (Mary herself is called hjálpar stólpi in Mdr 41/5 and Pét 5/7). ‘Inclining’ (hneigi-, from hneigja ‘incline, bow down’, as in 3/1-4 hneig heyrn þína ‘incline your hearing’) may, as LP (1860) and LP propose, suggest the idea of leaning forward as if proffering a gift; cf. the kenning in Kálf Kátr 45/6-7 hneigiþollr öglis túna ‘giving tree of hawk’s home fields [ARM > GENEROUS MAN]’. But here the image is more likely based upon st. 9 of Fortunatus’ Pange lingua, in which the poet tenderly entreats the Cross to bend in order to ease Christ’s suffering: Flecte ramos, arbor alta, tensa laxa viscera / et rigor lentescat ille, quem dedit nativitas ‘Bend your branches, noble tree; relax your tense fibres, and let the firmness nature gave you become pliant’ (Bulst 1957, 128).

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stólpi ‘pillar’

stolpi (noun m.; °-a; -ar): pillar < hneigistolpi (noun m.)

kennings

Hneigistólpi alls heims hjálpar,
‘Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, ’
   = CROSS

Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, → CROSS

notes

[3] hneigistólpi ... hjálpar ‘inclining pillar ... of salvation [CROSS]’: Stólpi ‘pillar, column’, is used in Veraldar saga to translate the pillar of light that guided the Israelites in Exod. XIII (Jakob Benediktsson 1944, 26 and 83). The Cross as column or pillar is a rare image (cf. sigrstóð ‘victory-post’ 42/2). Rabanus Maurus (C9th) calls the Cross columna et firmamentum veritatis ‘the column and mainstay of truth’ (De laudibus sanctae crucis, col. 169; Perrin 1997, 59). Possibly influenced by Líkn, the image occurs in Mgr 13/2-3 where Mary tells how she watched as Christ bore on his shoulders the hjálpar stólpa til píslar ‘pillar of salvation [CROSS] to the torment’. (Mary herself is called hjálpar stólpi in Mdr 41/5 and Pét 5/7). ‘Inclining’ (hneigi-, from hneigja ‘incline, bow down’, as in 3/1-4 hneig heyrn þína ‘incline your hearing’) may, as LP (1860) and LP propose, suggest the idea of leaning forward as if proffering a gift; cf. the kenning in Kálf Kátr 45/6-7 hneigiþollr öglis túna ‘giving tree of hawk’s home fields [ARM > GENEROUS MAN]’. But here the image is more likely based upon st. 9 of Fortunatus’ Pange lingua, in which the poet tenderly entreats the Cross to bend in order to ease Christ’s suffering: Flecte ramos, arbor alta, tensa laxa viscera / et rigor lentescat ille, quem dedit nativitas ‘Bend your branches, noble tree; relax your tense fibres, and let the firmness nature gave you become pliant’ (Bulst 1957, 128).

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heims ‘the world’s’

heimr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i/-; -ar): home, abode; world

kennings

Hneigistólpi alls heims hjálpar,
‘Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, ’
   = CROSS

Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, → CROSS

notes

[4] alls ‘all the world’s’: LP (1860) and Rydberg 1907, 52 assign this phrase to kyn beima ‘race of men’ (l. 4), but it seems more suitable to hjálpar, i.e. (inclining pillar) ‘of all the world’s salvation’. (Heims and kyn beima are also rhymed in Has 20/6.)

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alls ‘of all’

allr (adj.): all

kennings

Hneigistólpi alls heims hjálpar,
‘Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, ’
   = CROSS

Inclining pillar of all the world’s salvation, → CROSS

notes

[4] alls ‘all the world’s’: LP (1860) and Rydberg 1907, 52 assign this phrase to kyn beima ‘race of men’ (l. 4), but it seems more suitable to hjálpar, i.e. (inclining pillar) ‘of all the world’s salvation’. (Heims and kyn beima are also rhymed in Has 20/6.)

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of ‘upon’

3. of (prep.): around, from; too

[4] of: ok B, 399a‑bˣ

notes

[4] of ‘upon’: Ms. ok (abbreviation); Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s 1844, 48 emendation, adopted by all subsequent eds, seems unavoidable; a preposition is clearly necessary.

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Æxtr ‘greater’

2. œxla (verb): augment

[5] Æxtr: æxt B, 399a‑bˣ

notes

[5] æxtr ‘augmented, (made) greater’: P.p. of æxla ‘to cause to grow, increase’ (only CVC gives æxa, causal from vaxa, as a headword separate from æxla).

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ferr ‘grows’

fara (verb; ferr, fór, fóru, farinn): go, travel

notes

[5] ferr valt til vaxtar ‘grows continually’: The verbal phrase fara (or ganga) til vaxtar means simply ‘to grow’. Adv. valt, short for ávalt ‘continually’, from adj. valr ‘round, in a circle’. The short adv. form valt also occurs in Bjbp Jóms 38/1I and Anon Mhkv 28/1III. A minor reason for taking valt as adv. rather than as n. vald ‘power’ (like Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Rydberg) is that the longer form ávalt and veg- appear in the same positions in Has 59/5-6 and Anon 34/5-6, the two poems from which Líkn draws the most details.

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valt ‘continually’

ávallt (adv.): always

notes

[5] ferr valt til vaxtar ‘grows continually’: The verbal phrase fara (or ganga) til vaxtar means simply ‘to grow’. Adv. valt, short for ávalt ‘continually’, from adj. valr ‘round, in a circle’. The short adv. form valt also occurs in Bjbp Jóms 38/1I and Anon Mhkv 28/1III. A minor reason for taking valt as adv. rather than as n. vald ‘power’ (like Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Rydberg) is that the longer form ávalt and veg- appear in the same positions in Has 59/5-6 and Anon 34/5-6, the two poems from which Líkn draws the most details.

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til ‘’

til (prep.): to

notes

[5] ferr valt til vaxtar ‘grows continually’: The verbal phrase fara (or ganga) til vaxtar means simply ‘to grow’. Adv. valt, short for ávalt ‘continually’, from adj. valr ‘round, in a circle’. The short adv. form valt also occurs in Bjbp Jóms 38/1I and Anon Mhkv 28/1III. A minor reason for taking valt as adv. rather than as n. vald ‘power’ (like Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Rydberg) is that the longer form ávalt and veg- appear in the same positions in Has 59/5-6 and Anon 34/5-6, the two poems from which Líkn draws the most details.

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vaxtar ‘’

vaxa (verb): grow, increase

notes

[5] ferr valt til vaxtar ‘grows continually’: The verbal phrase fara (or ganga) til vaxtar means simply ‘to grow’. Adv. valt, short for ávalt ‘continually’, from adj. valr ‘round, in a circle’. The short adv. form valt also occurs in Bjbp Jóms 38/1I and Anon Mhkv 28/1III. A minor reason for taking valt as adv. rather than as n. vald ‘power’ (like Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Rydberg) is that the longer form ávalt and veg- appear in the same positions in Has 59/5-6 and Anon 34/5-6, the two poems from which Líkn draws the most details.

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hugðu ‘thought’

hugða (noun f.; °-u): thought

notes

[8, 7] ór hugðu ‘from thought’: Dat. of hugða ‘thought’; the prep. phrase is analogous to mæla (or ræða) af hugðu ‘speak one’s mind’ (Fritzner). Cf. LP (1860): hugð, hugða: skýra dýrð ór hugðu ‘to explicate glory in one’s thought [cogitatione]’. Because the prep. is dislocated, Rydberg’s emendation of ór to of, making hugðu (dat.) simply ‘in [our] thought’, is attractive.

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vinnim ‘we might’

2. vinna (verb): perform, work

notes

[7-8] vinnim skýrða ‘we might express, explain [lit. might make expressed, explained]’: Vinna with predicative adj. or (as here) part. ‘to make _-ed’; i.e. with skýrða ‘to make told, explained’ or simply ‘to express, explain’. The form is pres. subj.; the antecedent of skýrða (acc. f. p.p.) is dýrð ‘glory’ (l. 8). On dýrð : skýrða cf. Geisl 66/2 and EGils Guðv 4/3-4IV.

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of ‘in’

4. of (particle): (before verb)

[8] of: ór B, 399a‑bˣ

notes

[8, 7] ór hugðu ‘from thought’: Dat. of hugða ‘thought’; the prep. phrase is analogous to mæla (or ræða) af hugðu ‘speak one’s mind’ (Fritzner). Cf. LP (1860): hugð, hugða: skýra dýrð ór hugðu ‘to explicate glory in one’s thought [cogitatione]’. Because the prep. is dislocated, Rydberg’s emendation of ór to of, making hugðu (dat.) simply ‘in [our] thought’, is attractive.

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skýrða ‘express’

1. skýra (verb): explain, interpret

notes

[7-8] vinnim skýrða ‘we might express, explain [lit. might make expressed, explained]’: Vinna with predicative adj. or (as here) part. ‘to make _-ed’; i.e. with skýrða ‘to make told, explained’ or simply ‘to express, explain’. The form is pres. subj.; the antecedent of skýrða (acc. f. p.p.) is dýrð ‘glory’ (l. 8). On dýrð : skýrða cf. Geisl 66/2 and EGils Guðv 4/3-4IV.

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

[5-8]: oThe 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.

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