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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mey 34VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa 34’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 912-13.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra meyja drápa

text and translation

Anteócía meyjan mjúkust
Margaréta tók að bjarga
sætum lýð, er sauða gætti
sinnar fóstru, ljúfust kvinna.
Ólíbríus vænan vilja
vildi fá af brúði mildri;
frúin kærasta fimtán ára
fyrirlátandi honum að játa.

Anteócía tók Margaréta, mjúkust meyjan, að bjarga sætum lýð, ljúfust kvinna, er gætti sauða sinnar fóstru. Ólíbríus vildi fá vænan vilja af mildri brúði; kærasta frúin, fimtán ára, fyrirlátandi að játa honum.
‘In Antioch Margaret, most gentle maiden, began to save the sweet people, most beloved woman, who guarded the sheep of her foster-mother. Olybrius wanted to get the love [lit. the beautiful will] of the gracious woman; the dearest lady, fifteen years old, refused to yield to him.

notes and context

Stanzas 34-6 relate the legend of S. Margaret of Antioch, one of the most popular Christian saints, on account of her supposed ability to help women in childbirth. The legend tells that Margaret was the Christian daughter of a pagan priest, Theodosius, during the reign of Diocletian, who rejected the advances of the prefect Olybrius. He then denounced her as a Christian. She was subjected to various tortures, including the assault of Satan in the form of a dragon, who tried to swallow her. She was eventually beheaded. There are three versions of the saga of S. Margaret in C14th and later ON mss (Unger 1877, I, 474-81; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 320; Wolf 2003, 42-9, 158-9). Some of the later mss, particularly the very small ones, were almost certainly used as talismans to help women in childbirth (cf. Jón Steffensen 1965), a subject important to the poet of Mey (see st. 36). On her cult, see Cormack 1994, 121-2.



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 34: AII, 533, BII, 590, Skald II, 326-327, NN §2976A.


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