Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 4VII/2 — af ‘from’

Fyrri menn, er fræðin kunnu
forn og klók af sínum bókum
slungin, mjúkt af sínum kóngum
sungu lof með danskri tungu.
Í þvílíku móðurmáli
meir skyldumz eg en nökkurr þeira
hrærðan dikt með ástarorðum
allsvaldanda kóngi að gjalda.

Fyrri menn, er af sínum bókum kunnu slungin fræðin, forn og klók, sungu með danskri tungu mjúkt lof af kóngum sínum. Í þvílíku móðurmáli skyldumz eg meir en nökkurr þeira að gjalda allsvaldanda kóngi dikt, hrærðan með ástarorðum.

Men of old, who from their books knew complex learning, ancient and profound, sang in the Nordic tongue elegant praise of their kings. In just such a mother tongue I am more obliged than any of them to present the all-ruling king with a poem, composed with loving words.


[2] af: so 622, 720b, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, á Bb


[2] af sínum bókum ‘from their books’: Only Bb and 622 read sínum, the other mss having heiðnum ‘heathen’, the reading preferred by Skj B and Skald. Although sínum also occurs in l. 3, and so may indicate eyeskip on the part of Bb’s scribe, the reading is preferred here because it suggests the skald imagining for his predecessors a culture of literacy like his own. He may be referring to the use of poetic manuals to compose ‘elegant praise’, or he may be suggesting that skaldic poems about ancient kings are distilled from prose narratives. The pejorative heiðnum (see Fritzner: heiðinn) is out of place here and seems more like the judgement of a later age. This st. is not meant as disparagement of the learning of the poet’s predecessors. The point is rather that, if it was fitting for them to praise the great men who were their patrons, his relationship to ‘the all-powerful king’ makes him all the more obliged to do the same.



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