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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mey 16VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa 16’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 902.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra meyja drápa

Tuttugu vetr og sautján setti
sinn líkama þessi kvinna
eyðimerkur nökt í nauðir;
nauðin sjá var líkust dauða.
Mildur guð fyr mjúka iðran
Máríam tók úr glæpum sárum;
skínn hun nú sem einhver önnur
jungfrú hrein í lifandi greinum.

Tuttugu vetr og sautján setti þessi kvinna nökt sinn líkama í nauðir eyðimerkur; sjá nauðin var líkust dauða. Mildur guð tók Máríam úr sárum glæpum fyr mjúka iðran; hun skínn nú sem einhver önnur hrein jungfrú í lifandi greinum.

For thirty-seven years [lit. for twenty winters and seventeen] this woman lived [lit. placed her body] naked in the trials of the desert; that trial was most similar to death. Merciful God removed Mary from her painful sins because of her humble repentence; she now shines like every other pure maiden in life [lit. in the divisions of life].

Mss: 721(11v), 713(24)

Readings: [1] sautján: xvii 721, seytján 713    [2] kvinna: kvinna á 713    [3] nauðir: nauðum 713    [4] sjá var: var sjá 721, var sú 713

Editions: Skj AII, 530, Skj BII, 586, Skald II, 324.

Notes: [1] tuttugu vetr og sautján ‘for thirty-seven years’: Most versions of the life of Mary of Egypt say she was in the desert for 47 years. (Unger 1877, I, 489, 503, 510; Wolf 2003, 33). — [8] í lifandi greinum ‘in life’: Cf. st. 1/4 mærðargrein = mærð.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Unger, C. R., ed. 1877. Heilagra manna søgur. Fortællinger og legender om hellige mænd og kvinder. 2 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Bentzen.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Wolf, Kirsten, ed. 2003. Heilagra meyja sögur. Íslenzk trúarrit 1. Reykjavík: Bókmenntafræðistofnun Háskóla Íslands.

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