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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Líkn 33VII/1 — Skeið ‘warship’

Skeið ert fróns und fríðum
farsæl konungs þrælum
fljót ok farmi ítrum
fóstrlands á vit strandar.
Þú snýr böls hjá bárum
— boðar kasta þér lasta —
lýðs und líknar auði
lífs hafnar til stafni.

Ert farsæl, fljót skeið und fríðum þrælum konungs fróns ok ítrum farmi á vit strandar fóstrlands. Þú snýr stafni hjá bárum böls til lífs hafnar und auði líknar lýðs; boðar lasta kasta þér.

You are a voyage-prosperous, swift warship bearing [lit. under] beloved servants of the king of earth [RULER = Christ] and a glorious cargo towards the shore of our native land. You turn your prow past the waves of evil to life’s haven bearing the wealth of grace for mankind; billows of vices toss you.

notes

[1] skeið ‘ship’: Technically a warship of the long-ship (langskip) class (Falk 1912, 104-5; Jesch 2001a, 123-4). The noun can also mean ‘course, track’ (e.g. sunnu skeið ‘sun’s track’ in C14th Árni Gd 66/1IV), and the poet’s choice of word for ‘ship’ may be calculated to play on the Cross as braut ‘way’ (Líknarbraut) and on the poem’s frequent ‘way, path’ images (see Note to 51/4). The Cross as ship is a patristic and medieval commonplace, based mostly on commentary on Noah’s ark, which is usually glossed as the Ship of the Church, with the Cross as mast. But this is often simplified to the Cross itself as ship, as in a l. from the hymn Salve lignum sanctae crucis which addresses the Cross as: veri nautae vera nauta ‘true ship of the true seaman’ (AH 54, 194). Through reverse typology, Noah’s ark is sometimes represented as having been made from the wood of the Cross: ligno crucis fabricatur / Arca Noe (AH 8, 29). In the late medieval Gimsteinn 105/1 the Cross also makliga merkiʀ ‘fittingly symbolises’ Noah’s ark (ÍM I.2, 327). On the history of these ideas see Rahner 1964, 239-564 ‘Antenna crucis’.

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