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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mey 30VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa 30’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 910-11.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra meyja drápa

text and translation

Agnes var með elsku tígnuð
Jésú blóm í sjálfri Róma;
þrautir háði þrettán vetra
þessi mey við grimman hessi.
Níðingrinn bað nökta leiða
Nönnu gulls hjá heiðnum mönnum;
vildi hann, að skammaz skyldi
skrautlig mær, ef allsber væri.

Agnes, blóm Jésú, var tígnuð með elsku í sjálfri Róma; þessi mey, þrettán vetra, háði þrautir við grimman hessi. Níðingrinn bað {Nönnu gulls} leiða nökta hjá heiðnum mönnum; hann vildi, að skrautlig mær skyldi skammaz, ef allsber væri.
‘Agnes, the flower of Jesus, was honoured with love in Rome itself; this maiden, thirteen years old, was tortured by the wicked chieftain. The villain requested that the Nanna <goddess> of gold [WOMAN] be led naked past heathen men; he wanted the splendid maid to be ashamed, if she was completely nude.

notes and context

Stanzas 30-2 celebrate S. Agnes, a Roman martyr who died at the age of thirteen, after refusing marriage to a young suitor and the undertaking of pagan rites. She was tortured and killed by being stabbed in the throat. A basilica was built on the site of her supposed remains c. 350AD and her name is mentioned in the traditional Canon of the Roman Mass. In Iceland her cult may have been introduced by Bishop Þorlákr (Cormack 1994, 18-21) but was not generally popular. Her feast day was adopted as a holy day of obligation in 1179 but removed in 1275 (Cormack 1994, 24). There are three fragmentary versions of a saga of S. Agnes in mss dating from C14-16th (Unger 1877, I, 15-22; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 298; Foote 1962, 27; Cormack 1994, 75; Wolf 2003, 3-10, 153-4).



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 30: AII, 532-3, BII, 589, Skald II, 326.


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