Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Líkn 2VII/2 — heiðs ‘clear-heaven’

Víst má ek hræddr, ins hæsta
heiðs algöfugr, beiða,
mér at munnshöfn dýra
mærðteitr jöfurr veiti,
ár því at ek má stórum
ungr hógsettrar tungu
frá afgerðum orða
ofsjaldan vel halda.

Víst má ek hræddr beiða, at algöfugr mærðteitr jöfurr ins hæsta heiðs veiti mér dýra munnshöfn, því at ungr má ek ofsjaldan halda ár orða vel frá stórum afgerðum hógsettrar tungu.

Surely I must, fearful, entreat that the completely noble, fame-glad prince of the highest clear-heaven [= God (= Christ)] grant me precious mouth-content [SPEECH], for, [being] young, I can all too seldom keep my oar of words [TONGUE] well from great offences of an easily-employed tongue.


[2] heiðs algöfugr: heiðr algöfugs B, 399a‑bˣ


[2] heiðs algöfugr ‘of clear-heaven ... completely noble’: Despite Kock’s effort (NN §1385) to maintain the ms. reading (heiðr algöfugs), there seems to be no way around the need to emend l. 2. Kock’s construction depends upon 1) an otherwise unattested sense of heiðr ‘glory’ as bistånd ‘assistance’, 2) inverting the acc. and gen. objects in the idiom at beiða e-n e-s ‘to ask someone for something’, and 3) mixing weak and strong adjectives following the def. art. (ins hæsta, göfugs). Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 35 n. (supported by Konráð Gíslason 1877, 23 n.) proposed heiðtjalls (i.e. -tjalds ‘-tent’) for B’s ‘heiðr al’; so Rydberg 1907, 47 and Skj B. While this, with the end of l. 1, would be analogous to ins hæsta hríðtjalds in Has 28/1-2, a C12th drápa from which Líkn draws various details, it is unlikely that the poet would use exactly the same sky-kenning twice (cf. heiðtjalds 25/4). A ‘king of heaven’-kenning can be achieved less radically by emending heiðr to heiðs ‘of the (highest) clear-heaven’. (An alternative would be heiðrs ‘of (the highest) glory’; i.e. rex summae gloriae.) Emendation of algöfugs ‘completely noble’ to nom. algöfugr (Skj B göfugr), while less essential, seems justified to avoid apposition of weak and strong adjs following ins ‘the’, but also by the marginal appropriateness of algöfugs as a modifier of ‘sky’.




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