Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Anon Pét 22VII/4 — spennir ‘the clasper’

Postula sveitir sátu
sínum herra nærri,
spurði og spejar, með gerðum,
spennir harma tvennra:
‘Hvern segi þier mig’, hlýrna
heilagr, ‘vera?’ kvað deilir;
eingi að giefa til yngva
orð nema Pétur þorði.

Sveitir postula sátu nærri sínum herra með gerðum; spennir tvennra harma spurði og spejar: ‘Hvern segi þier mig vera?’ kvað heilagr deilir hlýrna; eingi þorði að giefa orð til yngva nema Pétur.

The bands of Apostles sat near their Lord with their gear; the clasper of two sorrows asked and inquires: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ said the holy ruler of heavenly bodies [= God (= Christ)]; no one dared to give a response to the Lord except Peter.


[4] spennir tvennra harma ‘the clasper of two sorrows’: Both Kahle (1898, 110) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) take the phrase as a kenning for Christ, but are at a loss to explain to what it refers. Kock (NN §1723) tentatively observes that the scriptural episode in question is preceded by a complaint concerning the iniquity of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. XVI.6-12) and is followed by Christ’s prediction of his Passion and death (Matt. XVI.21), but admits that apart from this, the l. is ‘somewhat obscure’. One might perhaps seek to see in the phrase a veiled allusion to the two scriptural references to Christ weeping (at Luke XIX.41 and John XI.35), or a variation on the epithet vir dolorum ‘man of sorrows’ (Isa. LIII.3-4; cf., e.g., OED: sorrow sb. 2b the Man of Sorrows). The kenning-like phrase may, however, merely fit the immediate context, and perhaps plays on the etymological sense of dubitas ‘doubt’: Christ is called a ‘bearer of two worries’ here because he is in two minds / has his doubts about the beliefs of some of his followers. (Cf., perhaps, Fritzner: tvídrœgr, tvískiptr ‘uncertain’.)



Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Word in text

This view shows information about an instance of a word in a text.