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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Hsv 38VII

Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Hugsvinnsmál 38’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 383-4.

Anonymous PoemsHugsvinnsmál

Aldrlagi sínu        kvíði engi maðr
        né um þat önn ali;
dugir eigi dægr,        þeim er dauða forðaz;
        enginn feigð um flýr.

Engi maðr kvíði aldrlagi sínu né ali önn um þat; dægr dugir eigi þeim er dauða forðaz; enginn um flýr feigð.

Nobody should dread his death or nourish fear about it; a day and night are not enough for him who wants to avoid death; no one escapes a fated death.

Mss: 1199ˣ(72v), 723aˣ(79), 696XV(1v) (ll. 1-4, 6), 401ˣ(1r), 624(142) (ll. 4-6)

Readings: [1] Aldrlagi: ‘[...]’ 696XV    [2] kvíði engi: ‘kuid[...]’ 401ˣ    [5] þeim er dauða: ‘[...]’ 696XV;    forðaz: so 624, kvíðir 1199ˣ, kvíða 723aˣ, ‘[...]’ 696XV, óaz 401ˣ    [6] enginn: ‘[...]ygi’ 696XV, ‘ei[...]’ 401ˣ, hvergi 624;    feigð: hann feigð 696XV, 624, ‘[...]’ 401ˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 176, Skj BII, 192, Skald II, 100; Hallgrímur Scheving 1831, 13, Konráð Gíslason 1860, 550, Gering 1907, 11, Tuvestrand 1977, 92, Hermann Pálsson 1985, 52.

Notes: [All]: Lat. parallel: (Dist. I, 22) Ne timeas illam, quae vitae est ultima finis: / qui mortem metuit, quod vivit, perdit id ipsum ‘Do not fear that which is the final end of life: whoever fears death while he is alive, loses life itself’. 624 has only ll. 4-6. As the two helmingar in 1199ˣ each render more or less the sense of the Lat. distich, ll. 1-3 in the second version mss may not be original. Unavoidable death has already been mentioned in Hsv 35. Lines 4-5 may also mean ‘a day and a night has no value for the one who wants to avoid death’, i.e. people waste their time fearing death. This seems to be the sense of the Lat.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Tuvestrand, Birgitta, ed. 1977. Hugsvinnsmál: Handskrifter och kritisk text. Lundastudier i nordisk språkvetenskap A:29. Lund: Blom.
  4. Hermann Pálsson, ed. 1985a. Áhrif Hugsvinnsmála á aðrar fornbókmenntir. Studia Islandica/Íslensk Fræði 43. Reykjavík: Menningarsjóður.
  5. Gering, Hugo, ed. 1907. Hugsvinnsmál. Eine altisländische Übersetzung der Disticha Catonis. Kiel: Lipsius & Tischer.
  6. Hallgrímur Scheving, ed. 1831. Hugsvinnsmál, ásamt þeirra látinska frumriti. Skóla hátið. Viðeyar Klaustri: prentuð af Helga Helgasyni, á kostnað Bessastaða Skóla.
  7. Internal references
  8. Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Hugsvinnsmál 35’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 382.

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