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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mv II 15VII

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Máríuvísur II 15’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 711.

Anonymous PoemsMáríuvísur II

text and translation

Mátti vera miðnótt,
móðir sveins er upp stóð,
og í burtu barn stirt
af börum tók gulls Vör.
Móðurinnar, dís dýr
driftar sá, hvar stóð skrift;
liet hun niðr lítt kát
líkamann við orð slík:

Mátti vera miðnótt, er móðir sveins stóð upp, og {Vör gulls} tók stirt barn í burtu af börum. {Dýr dís driftar} sá, hvar skrift móðurinnar stóð; hun liet líkamann niðr, lítt kát, við slík orð:
‘It must have been midnight when the mother of the boy stood up, and the Vör <goddess> of gold [WOMAN] took the stiff child away from the bier. The precious dís <minor female deity> of the snowdrift [WOMAN] saw where the image of the mother stood; she laid the body down, little cheerful, with these words:

notes and context

[5-6]: Line 5 is corrupt. There is no internal rhyme, and, furthermore, the kenning for ‘woman’, dís driftar ‘the dís <minor female deity> of the snowdrift’, is incomplete. Driftar ‘of the snowdrift’ must be part of a kenning for ‘silver’, but it requires an additional determinant. Skj B suggests the following reading: Máríu arms dís dýr | driptar sá, hvar stóð skript, i.e., dís arms driptar sá, hvar dýr skript Máríu stóð ‘the dís of the arm’s snowdrift (i.e. ‘silver’) saw where the precious effigy of Mary stood’. That reading is metrically and syntactically impossible. Kock emends móðurinnar ‘of the mother’ (l. 5) to Mardallar ‘of Mardöll’ (another name for the goddess Freyja) and construes the kenning as follows: dýr dís Mardallar driptar ‘the precious dís of Mardöll’s <= Freyja> snowdrift’, in which ‘Mardöll’s <= Freyja> snowdrift (i.e. tears)’ equals ‘gold’. According to myth, Freyja wept tears of gold (SnE 1998, I, 43-4). While this suggestion is admittedly attractive, it is out of keeping with the other kenning constructions in the poem (it is too complex and presupposes an intimate knowledge of ON myth or poetry containing such imagery).


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. 5]. En digt om et andet Maria-jærtegn 15: AII, 494, BII, 536, Skald II, 294, NN §3362, Metr. §§14A, 17F; Kahle 1898, 40-1, 100, Sperber 1911, 12, 63, Wrightson 2001, 62.


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