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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Leið 10VII/4 — eldum ‘fires’

‘Munk’, kvað vǫrðr, ‘í virða’,
vallræfrs, ‘liðu alla
— stríð þjá drótt til dauða
drjúghvasst — eldum kasta,
ef vegrunnar vinna
varrelgs daga helga
elds eða eigi gjalda
allþétt tíund rétta.’

Vǫrðr vallræfrs kvað: ‘Munk kasta eldum í alla liðu virða — stríð þjá drjúghvasst drótt til dauða —, ef varrelgs veg- elds -runnar vinna allþétt helga daga eða gjalda eigi rétta tíund’.

The warden of the plain-roof [SKY/HEAVEN > = God] said: ‘I will cast fires into all the limbs of men — afflictions will plague mankind severely unto death — if the trees of the fire of the way of the wake-elk [(lit. ‘way-trees of the fire of the wake-elk’) SHIP > SEA > GOLD > MEN] work very energetically on holy days or do not pay the correct tithe’.


[4] eldum: ‘ęttum’ B, ættum 624, ‘ęllum’ 399a‑bˣ


[4] eldum (dat. pl.) ‘fires’: The dat. is needed with kasta. It has not been possible to make sense of B’s reading ‘ęttum’, possibly dat. pl. of f. ætt, either an astronomical term referring to a portion, or ‘quarter’ of the heavens or, more commonly, a reference to kinship relations or family pedigree (cf. Fritzner: ætt). The word is clearly intended as the instrument of God’s threat to punish mankind for its failure to observe Sundays by throwing (kasta, l. 4) something painful into men’s limbs. Finnur Jónsson’s emendation (Skj B) to trega, dat. sg. of tregi ‘woe, sorrow’, bears no relation to the ms. reading. Kock’s suggestion (NN §2141) of eitrum or eitri, dat. pl. or dat. sg. of eitr ‘poison’ makes sense in the context and is in keeping with the threatening tone of the st. Most other versions of the Sunday Letter include fire as one of the punishments for failing to observe the sanctity of Sunday (Attwood 2003, 72). Thus emendation has been made to eldum, dat. pl. of eldr ‘fire’.



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