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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Gyð 1VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Gyðingsvísur 1’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 516-17.

Anonymous PoemsGyðingsvísur

Aldýran biðk óra
orðfæri guð stæra,
en hyrmeiðar hlýði
haukstiettar brag sliettan.
Ágæta vilk ítrum
ulfsfæðendum ræðu
— víst og vífs inssta
vegr guðs er það — segja.

Biðk aldýran guð stæra óra orðfæri, en {{{haukstiettar} hyr}meiðar} hlýði sliettan brag. Vilk segja {ítrum ulfsfæðendum} ágæta ræðu; það er víst guðs vegr og inssta vífs.

I ask altogether precious God to strengthen our [my] eloquence and that {the trees {of the fire {of the hawk’s path}}} [(lit. ‘fire-trees of the hawk’s path’) ARM > GOLD > MEN] may listen to the smooth poem. I want to tell {noble wolf-feeders} [WARRIORS] an excellent tale; that is certainly God’s glory and that of the highest woman [i.e. Virgin Mary].

Mss: B(14v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] Aldýran: ‘[...]ldy[...]an’ B, ‘[...]ldyran’ 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg, BFJ    [3] hyrmeiðar: so 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg, BFJ, ‘[...]yrmeidar’ B    [4] haukstiettar: ‘h[...]stettar’ B, ‘hagstettar’ 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg, ‘ha[...]stettar’ BFJ    [6] ulfsfæðendum: ‘vlfsfedundum’ all;    ræðu: ‘reda’ all    [7] vífs ins sta: ‘vifs[...]ta’ B, ‘vífs[...]he᷎sta’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘vigs[...]h[...]ta’ BRydberg

Editions: Skj AII, 539, Skj BII, 597, Skald II, 331; Rydberg 1907, 41, 59, Attwood 1996a, 346.

Notes: [1] Aldýran ‘altogether precious’: The scribe of B has left a space for a capital A, which has not been inserted. God is also described as aldýrr in Gamlkan Has 17/8 and 29/6 and in Anon Leið 29/1. The epithet is sometimes used for secular kings, but only once in poetry from before C12th (LP: aldýrr). — [3, 4] haukstiettar hyrmeiðar ‘fire-trees of the hawk’s path [ARM > GOLD > MEN]’: B is torn at this point, and only ‘h…stettar’ is certain. The 399a-bˣ copyist was able to read ‘hagstettar’ with certainty, although this is likely to be corrupt. Finnur Jónsson, followed by Kock, reconstructs to hafstéttar, which they take as gen. sg. of hafstétt, f., ‘sea-path’. Finnur construes this with hyrmeiðar ‘fire-trees’ to give the man-kenning hyrmeiðar hafstéttar ‘the trees of the fire of the path of the sea [SEA > GOLD > MEN]’. As a sea-kenning, however, hafstétt is tautologous and, indeed, no parallel or similar expressions are listed in LP. This edn follows Rydberg in adopting Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s suggestion (note to 444ˣ) that hagstéttar be treated as an error for haugstéttar, which normalises to haukstiettar, gen. sing. of f. haukstiett ‘hawk-path’, a kenning for the arm or hand. Although haukstiett is not itself attested elsewhere, there are several arm-kennings on the ‘land, path, way of the hawk’ model (see LP, 231-2; Meissner, 139). — [6] ulfsfæðendum (dat. pl.) ‘wolf-feeders [WARRIORS]’: A similar warrior-kenning occurs in Anon Pl 43/8 fœðir ulfs: ‘feeder of the wolf’, referring to Plácitus. — [6] ræðu ‘tale’: B’s ‘reda’ must be emended to provide an object for vilk segja in the acc. case. — [7] vífs inssta ‘of the highest woman’: B is badly worn and a crack obscures the lower portion of the shaft of <f>. The shaft, however, has an angular upstroke and the bowed section appears to be made in one stroke, as is characteristic of the <f>-form used in B. Comparison with <g>-forms elsewhere confirms that the left side of this letter is not characteristically as straight as is the fragmentary shaft here. The edn therefore follows 399a-bˣ’s and BFJ’s vífs, sharing Finnur Jónsson’s assumption that some reference to the Virgin Mary (not unlikely in a poem relating to the conversion of a Jew) is intended. Skj B’s reconstruction of besta (l. 7), while making for an acceptable appellation for Mary ‘the best woman’, is not necessary here, as an earlier transcription (399a-bˣ) make it clear that hæsta was the original reading. Rydberg reads vífs as vegs, which he takes to be the first element in vegsemd ‘glory, honour’. He thus construes vilk víst ... segja ágæta rœða [sic] ok hæsta vegsemd ‘I will certainly ... tell a noble tale and the highest honour’. It seems likely that Rydberg’s reconstruction here is influenced by recollection of Has 30/3.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  7. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Internal references
  9. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Leiðarvísan 29’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 166-7.
  10. Jonna Louis-Jensen and Tarrin Wills (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Plácitusdrápa 43’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 207-8.
  11. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 17’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 88-9.
  12. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 30’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 99.

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