Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Eccl 2VII

Jonathan Grove (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Stanzas Addressed to Fellow Ecclesiastics 2’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 474-5.

Anonymous PoemsStanzas Addressed to Fellow Ecclesiastics

text and translation

Esto, consors caste,
cura mente purus;
sume tibi, Thoma,
tutum fide scutum.
Vive intus, ave,
ortus celi porta;
inde gregis grandis
gaude Christi laude.

Caste consors, cura esto purus mente; sume tibi, Thoma, tutum scutum fide. Ortus, ave, vive intus porta celi; inde gaude grandis gregis laude Christi.
‘Chaste colleague, through attentiveness be pure in thought; take upon yourself, Thomas, the sheltering shield of faith. Having arisen, grandsire, dwell in the gateway of Heaven; then rejoice in the great congregation’s praise of Christ.

notes and context

The st. appears in a group of random texts inserted beneath a Lat. prose passage on syntax. It precedes a ten-l. mnemonic poem on computistics, a note on Lat. lexical distinctions, two curses directed at would-be thieves and a single elaborate Lat. hexameter with an accompanying ON translation.

The st. is constructed entirely of disyllabic forms, producing a regular trochaic metre. In addition to satisfying the basic metrical requirements of dróttkvætt, the st. exhibits extra-metrical aural patterning in the repeated assonance on -e in nearly every l., and in the disyllabic rhymes in the final ll. of each helmingr, tutumscutum (l. 4) and gaudelaude (l. 8). — [3-4]: The couplet recalls Eph. VI.11-17, in which Paul urges followers of Christ to take up arma Dei ‘the armour of God’ in its various parts, in omnibus sumentes scutum fidei ‘with all of these, taking the shield of faith’ (Eph. VI.16). The poet uses the ablative of quality, fide ‘of faith’, instead of gen. sg. fidei, which would disrupt the syllable count. — [5-8]: Celi ‘of heaven’ (l. 6) is the Medieval Lat. spelling of caeli. In the Vulgate, porta caeli ‘gateway of heaven’ refers to the site of Jacob’s vision in which he saw angels ascending and descending a ladder between heaven and earth and heard God repeat the covenant made to Abraham of a promised land for the chosen people (Gen. XXVIII.17). The term is one of the most common appellations for the Virgin Mary in medieval Christian liturgical texts and religious poetry, and was derived from exegesis of Jacob’s dream and the vision of the renewed temple in Ezek. XLIV.1-3. It first appeared in the Western liturgy in the C9th hymn Ave maris stella ‘Hail, Star of the Sea’, which was incorporated into the liturgical Office of Vespers on the Marian feasts. It is also found in Alma redemptoris mater ‘Loving Mother of the Redeemer’, the antiphon for Sext on the Feast of the Assumption, used since the C12th. The whole second helmingr chimes closely with ll. from Ave regina caelorum ‘Hail, Queen of Heaven’, the C12th Marian antiphon for Nones on the Assumption: … salve porta / ex qua mundo lux est orta; / gaude virgo gloriosa … ‘hail gateway [of heaven], from which light arose in the world; rejoice most renowned Virgin...’. As the light of Christ has arisen (orta) in the world through the ‘gateway’ (porta) of the Virgin Mary, so the poet urges Thomas, having arisen (ortus) to the Christian life, to dwell figuratively in the gateway of heaven (celi porta), perhaps in devout contemplation of the Virgin. He may then finally look forward to rejoice (gaude) alongside Mary and the other saints in heaven after his salvation.


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

Finnur Jónsson 1886, 188, 193.


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