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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 28VII/4 — miskunnar ‘of mercy’

Og svá veik að meyju mjúkri:
‘Máría, hlýð nú orðum várum!
Frægast víf, þier færeg áve,
full miskunnar sætleiks brunna.
Samangeypnandi sína skepnu
sannr höfðinginn eingla og manna
byggir þier fyr brjósti skæru,
blessuð mær; þú ert sprundum hæri.’

Og veik svá að mjúkri meyju: ‘Máría, hlýð nú orðum várum! Frægast víf, full sætleiks brunna miskunnar, þier færeg áve. Sannr höfðinginn eingla og manna, samangeypnandi skepnu sína, byggir fyr skæru brjósti þier, blessuð mær; þú ert sprundum hæri.

And he turned thus to the gentle maiden: ‘Mary, listen now to our [my] words! Most glorious woman, full of the sweetness of the fountains of mercy, I bring you a greeting. The true chieftain of the angels and men [= God], holding his creation together in his hand, takes up dwelling in your pure breast, blessed maiden; you are higher than [other] women.


[4] miskunnar: miskunn af 622, 713, 4892, miskunnar af Vb, 41 8°ˣ


[4] full sætleiks brunna miskunnar ‘full of the sweetness of the fountains of mercy’: This is the reading of Bb, which alone has sætleiks brunna ‘of the sweetness of the fountains’, against the other mss’ full sætum brunni miskunnar ‘full of the sweet fountain of mercy’. (Fullr adj. in the sense ‘full [of]’ may take either the gen. or the dat.) Skj B and Skald prefer the majority reading, which is arguably superior to Bb’s, where brunna must be gen. pl. The Lat. epithet fons misericordiae was used of both Christ and Mary, though here it must refer to Christ. It occurs frequently in the works of Cistercians like Anselm of Canterbury, Aelred of Rievaulx, and Bernard of Clairvaux. See e.g. Anselm’s Oratio 5: O tu illa pie potens et potenter pia MARIA, de qua fons est ortus misericordiae ‘O piously powerful and powerfully pious Maria, from whom the fount of mercy sprang’ (Schmitt 1946-1961, III, 14, cf. also I, 107 and III, 49). Fons misericordiae is also used of Mary, especially in the later Middle Ages; see e.g. Ramon Llull (in Garí and Reboiras 2003, 138); the Soliloquium animae of Thomas ꜳ Kempis (in Pohl 1902-22, I, 329). It became a commonplace in Marian hymns from C13th onward. It occurs in Arngr Gd 9/2IV full hjartans brunni miskunnar ‘[Mary] full of the heart’s fountain of mercy’.



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