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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mey 14VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa 14’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 900-1.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra meyja drápa

text and translation

Þrifnað fekk með þessu nafni
þrifligt sprund á hjálpar stundu;
Máría er sú kölluð kæra;
kæran segi eg að égypzk væri.
Háskafull var hennar æska;
hörmuliga í glæpum örmum
flýði hun burt af frænda láði;
fyldiz mart, það er eigi skyldi.

Þrifligt sprund fekk þrifnað með þessu nafni á stundu hjálpar; sú kæra er kölluð Máría; eg segi að kæran væri égypzk. Hennar æska var háskafull; hörmuliga flýði hun í örmum glæpum burt af láði frænda; mart fyldiz, það er eigi skyldi.
‘A good woman received prosperity with this name at the moment of help; the woman is called Mary; I say that the woman was Egyptian. Her youth was full of danger; pitifully she fled in miserable sins away from the land of her kinsmen; many a thing happened that should not have.

notes and context

Like Mary Magdalene, Mary of Egypt, to whom sts 14-16 are dedicated, was a type of the contemplative and the penitent. Like Mary Magdalene also, Mary of Egypt began life as a sinner. She is said to have been a prostitute of Alexandria in C5th AD who was converted to Christianity at the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the threshold of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. She then crossed the River Jordan and lived in the desert as a hermit for the rest of her life. Mary of Egypt is named in the majority of Icel. calendars (Cormack 1994, 40) but there appears to be no evidence for her cult in Iceland. There are, however, several C14th and C15th versions of a prose saga of her life (Unger 1877, I, 482-512; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 324; Wolf 2003 xxxi-iii, 25-39, 156-8).



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 XIV], [B. 12]. Af heilogum meyjum 14: AII, 529, BII, 585-6, Skald II, 323, NN §3391A.


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