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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Pét 4VII

David McDougall (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Pétrsdrápa 4’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 799-800.

Anonymous PoemsPétrsdrápa

Gróf, sá er græðgi reifir,
grandafullur andi
brjóst, og bar inn löstu
brúkum, mitt ið sjúka,
saman þó loðir með lími
lífs hinna fyr innan;
það er ván guðligs gróða
græn fyr Pétri bænir.

Grandafullur andi, sá er reifir græðgi, gróf ið sjúka brjóst mitt, og bar inn löstu brúkum, þó loðir saman fyr innan hinna með lífs lími; það er græn ván guðligs gróða fyr Pétri bænir.

The harmful spirit, who promotes greed, bored into my sick breast, and carried in vices in heaps, yet within those [vices] it cleaves together with the mortar of life; that is the green hope of godly growth through Peter’s prayers.

Mss: 621(57v) (Pétr)

Editions: Skj AII, 501, Skj BII, 546, Skald II, 299, NN §1712A; Konráð Gíslason 1860, 557; Kahle 1898, 78-9, 109.

Notes: [2] grandafullur ‘harmful’: The l. as it stands in the ms., with (unabbreviated) grandafullr, is short by one syllable. Kock objects to Finnur Jónsson’s substitution of the desyllabified form (with -ur; cf., e.g., Stefán Karlsson 2004, 15 and n. 25), and proposes instead emending the l. to read: grandafullr mér andi ‘the spirit harmful to me’ (NN §1712A; Skald II). The author of Pét appears, however, to resort to desyllabified forms metri causa where necessary (cf. Notes to sts 10/3, 11/4, 14/2, 15/4, 18/2, 21/2, 22/8, 37/3, 42/6, 48/8, 50/8). — [5-6]: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) translates: dog hænger der sammen der indenfor en med lim sammenfæstet livshinde ‘yet there holds together within a membrane of life (fastened together) with glue’ (my italics). The image is certainly striking, but it is hard to think of a parallel for this rather mucilaginous collocation of membrane and glue, and (perhaps not surprisingly) the word hinna ‘membrane’ would not appear to be used elsewhere in the corpus of OIcel. poetry. Kahle (1898, 109) takes hinna (as here) as acc. pl. of hinn pron. (object of fyr innan), but renders 5-8: ‘Nevertheless it (the sick breast) holds together within these (the vices), through the prayers of Peter with the limb of life (= Christ? life itself?)’. With the image of the ‘mortar of life’ cf. perhaps Langland Piers Plowman, B-text (Kane and Donaldson 1975), Passus XIX, 323-4: And of his baptisme and blood þat he bledde on roode | He made a manere morter, and mercy it highte ‘And from the baptismal water and blood that he shed on the cross (cf. John XIX.34) he made a kind of mortar, and it was called mercy’. — [7-8]: Both Kahle and Konráð Gíslason (1860) treat það er ván guðligs gróða græn ‘that is the green hope of godly growth’ as an intercalary cl.


  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. Stefán Karlsson. 2004. The Icelandic Language. Trans. Rory McTurk. London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  6. Kahle, Bernhard, ed. 1898. Isländische geistliche Dichtungen des ausgehenden Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter.
  7. Kane, George and E. Talbot Donaldson, eds. 1975. Piers Plowman: The B Version. Will’s Visions of Piers Plowman, Do-Well, Do-Better and Do-Best. London: Athlone Press. Rpt. 1988. London: Athlone Press and Berkeley: University of California Press.
  8. Internal references
  9. Not published: do not cite (HarðV)
  10. David McDougall 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Pétrsdrápa’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 796-844.

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