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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mgr 1VII

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Drápa af Máríugrát 1’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 759-60.

Anonymous PoemsDrápa af Máríugrát

Orðin gief þú mjög til mærðar,
minn lausnari, skáldi þínu,
þinnar móður mildi kunnrar,
mála örr, og hjálpa sálu.
Eini sýndir þú Áróns frænda;
aldri brann þó viðrinn kaldi;
lát þú kveikjaz lágina dróttins
leiftra skríns í hjarta mínu.

Lausnari minn, örr mála, gief þú mjög skáldi þínu orðin til mærðar móður þinnar, kunnrar mildi, og hjálpa sálu. Þú sýndir {Áróns frænda} eini; þó brann viðrinn kaldi aldri; lát þú lágina {dróttins {leiftra skríns}} kveikjaz í hjarta mínu.

My redeemer, generous with speech, give abundantly to your poet the words for the praise of your mother, renowned for mercy, and save the soul. You showed the juniper {to Aaron’s kinsman} [= Moses]; yet the cold bush was never consumed [lit. never burned]; let the log {of the lord {of lightnings’ shrine}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God] be kindled in my heart.

Mss: 713(123)

Readings: [5] Eini: einn 713    [7] lágina: ‘lo᷎gínn’ 713

Editions: Skj AII, 472, Skj BII, 505, Skald II, 276, NN §§1665, 3354A; Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 42, Kahle 1898, 55, 103, Sperber 1911, 30, 73, Wrightson 2001, 1.

Notes: [4] hjálpa (imp. sg.) ‘save’: Declined as a weak verb here (see ANG §495, Anm. 5). — [5] eini ‘juniper’: So Skj B and Skald. Einn (m. nom. or acc. sg.) ‘one’, (so 713) makes little sense. Wrightson retains einn and translates the l. as ‘you showed Aron’s kinsman [Moses] one’, with viðr ‘bush, tree’ understood (so also Sperber). The emendation to eini ‘juniper’ renders þú ‘you’ extrametrical, and the pron. has been deleted in Skj B and Skald. The deletion is unnecessary if we assume a l. of Type A with two unstressed syllables in the dip. — [6] brann ‘consumed’: Lit. ‘burned’. The verb is used is the sense ‘was consumed’ (see NN §3354A). For Moses and the burning bush untouched by flames, see Exod. III.2. In medieval Europe the Biblical burning bush was often understood as a juniper, which was credited with the ability to burn very slowly (cf. the late ME poem Craft of Lovers 16, O intemerat jenypere ‘O unblemished juniper’ of a courtly lady and/or the Virgin Mary (Kooper 1987, 473-89, at 476 and 485 n. to l. 16)). — [7] lágina (f. acc. sg.) ‘the log’: The ms. reading ‘lo᷎ginn’ can only be rendered as lögin (n. acc. pl.) ‘the laws’ (so Skj B), which makes the l. hypometrical (two short syllables cannot occupy a stressed and an unstressed position in metrical positions 5-6 in liljulag). Furthermore, it is not clear why the poet would want divine laws to inspire his creation. Skald emends to lágina (f. acc. sg.) ‘the log’ (see NN §1665), which is metrically correct and makes sense in the present context (see eini ‘juniper’ and viðr ‘wood’ in ll. 5, 6): the poet asks that an eternal fire of divine inspiration be kindled in his breast. Wrightson supplies loginn ‘the flame’. According to that interpretation, ‘the flame of the lord of lightnings’ shrine’ is a kenning for the Holy Ghost, but loginn (m. nom. sg.) ‘the flame’ is ungrammatical because the acc. inf. construction requires the acc. logann and the l. is still unmetrical.


  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. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  6. Sperber, Hans, ed. 1911. Sechs isländische Gedichte legendarischen Inhalts. Uppsala Universitets årsskrift, filosofi, språkvetenskap och historiska vetenskaper 2. Uppsala: Akademische Buchdruckerei Edv. Berling.
  7. Wrightson, Kellinde, ed. 2001. Fourteenth-Century Icelandic Verse on the Virgin Mary: Drápa af Maríugrát, Vitnisvísur af Maríu, Maríuvísur I-III. Viking Society for Northern Research Text Series 14. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  8. Jón Þorkelsson [J. Thorkelsson]. 1888. Om digtningen på Island i det 15. og 16. århundrede. Copenhagen: Høst & søns forlag.
  9. Kahle, Bernhard, ed. 1898. Isländische geistliche Dichtungen des ausgehenden Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter.
  10. Kooper, Erik. 1987. Slack Water Poetry: An Edition of the Craft of Lovers.

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