Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Gyð 1VII/7 — vífs ‘woman’

Aldýran biðk óra
orðfæri guð stæra,
en hyrmeiðar hlýði
haukstiettar brag sliettan.
Ágæta vilk ítrum
ulfsfæðendum ræðu
— víst og vífs inssta
vegr guðs er það — segja.

Biðk aldýran guð stæra óra orðfæri, en haukstiettar hyrmeiðar hlýði sliettan brag. Vilk segja ítrum ulfsfæðendum ágæta ræðu; það er víst guðs vegr og inssta vífs.

I ask altogether precious God to strengthen our [my] eloquence and that the trees of the fire of the hawk’s path [(lit. ‘fire-trees of the hawk’s path’) ARM > GOLD > MEN] may listen to the smooth poem. I want to tell noble wolf-feeders [WARRIORS] an excellent tale; that is certainly God’s glory and that of the highest woman [i.e. Virgin Mary].


[7] vífs ins sta: ‘vifs[...]ta’ B, ‘vífs[...]he᷎sta’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘vigs[...]h[...]ta’ BRydberg


[7] vífs inssta ‘of the highest woman’: B is badly worn and a crack obscures the lower portion of the shaft of <f>. The shaft, however, has an angular upstroke and the bowed section appears to be made in one stroke, as is characteristic of the <f>-form used in B. Comparison with <g>-forms elsewhere confirms that the left side of this letter is not characteristically as straight as is the fragmentary shaft here. The edn therefore follows 399a-bˣ’s and BFJ’s vífs, sharing Finnur Jónsson’s assumption that some reference to the Virgin Mary (not unlikely in a poem relating to the conversion of a Jew) is intended. Skj B’s reconstruction of besta (l. 7), while making for an acceptable appellation for Mary ‘the best woman’, is not necessary here, as an earlier transcription (399a-bˣ) make it clear that hæsta was the original reading. Rydberg reads vífs as vegs, which he takes to be the first element in vegsemd ‘glory, honour’. He thus construes vilk víst ... segja ágæta rœða [sic] ok hæsta vegsemd ‘I will certainly ... tell a noble tale and the highest honour’. It seems likely that Rydberg’s reconstruction here is influenced by recollection of Has 30/3.



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