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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Pét 16VII

David McDougall (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Pétrsdrápa 16’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 809-10.

Anonymous PoemsPétrsdrápa

text and translation

Þurrum fótum flýtir
faðir á sjó (en aðrir)
Pétr, að landi leitar,
liðstórr (skipi fóru).
Niðr dró ilsku eyði
ótt, þegar hræzlan sótti;
svalg af saltri bylgju;
*sökk í kólgu dökkva.

Liðstórr faðir Pétr flýtir þurrum fótum á sjó, leitar að landi, en aðrir fóru skipi. Þegar hræzlan sótti, dró ótt niðr {eyði ilsku}; svalg af saltri bylgju; *sökk í dökkva kólgu.
‘Father Peter, great of help, hastens with dry feet on the sea, makes for land, but the others went by ship. As soon as the fear seized [him], it suddenly dragged down the destroyer of wickedness [APOSTLE]; he swallowed the salt swell; sank into the dark wave.

notes and context

This st. brings together (or confuses) two different gospel passages: ll. 5-8 clearly refer to the account of Peter’s attempt to walk to Christ upon the sea at Matt. XIV.29-30. Lines 1-4, however, appear to refer instead to Christ’s appearance before his disciples after his Resurrection, while they were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias. At John XXI.7-8, Peter is said to have cast himself into the sea in his eagerness to come to Christ on shore, while ‘the other disciples came in the ship’: alii autem discipuli navigio venerunt. In the rendering of this passage in Pétr 16/23-5, Peter is described as ‘walking over the sea until he came upon dry land’: gangandi yfir sioinn til þess er hann kom ꜳ þurt land (cf. Pétr2 162/22: gekk þa Petrus ... sem a þurru landi ‘Peter then walked ... as if on dry land’; Pét 16/1-3). En aðrir lærisveinar foru ꜳ skipi til strandar ‘But the other disciples went in the ship to shore’ (cf. Pét 16/2-4: en aðrir ... skipi fóru ‘but the others ... went by ship’). It is possible that the first helmingr of Pét 16 originally belonged to a different st. dealing with this later gospel passage (cf. st. 25 and Note). On the other hand, when juxtaposed, the two helmingar form a kind of diptych illustrating the power of faith and the weakness of incredulity.



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. 7]. En drape om apostlen Peder 16: AII, 503, BII, 548-9, Skald II, 301; Kahle 1898, 81, 110.


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