tween the first section and the second to third, the exempla of human
frailty in heroic and wayfaring life may appear more worldly and 'pa-
gan,' and the spectacles of heaven and hell more ascetic and 'Chris-
tian'; but these appearances, we shall see below, are an oversimplifica-
tion of the structure of the poem. The author who could envision such
spectacles in all their doctrinal particularity was probably a cleric, a
cleric who was equally conversant with Church doctrine and the pagan
literary culture of Iceland.13
At the poetic peak of Sólarljóð, which culminates in a series of ana-
phoric stanzas, 39-45, in section two, the dying seer performs an act of
obeisance which may be a piece of true religious syncretism - he bows
to the sun (st. 41).
Sól ek sá,
svá þótti mér
sem ek sæja göfgan Guð;
henni ek laut
The sun in this and the other 'sól-ek-sá' stanzas is clearly not just the
heavenly body, but a symbol of the majestic Christian God, or of
Christ Himself, the morning star of Revelations XXII, 16, and stanza
39 ('sanna dagstjgrnu').14 The focal biblical and theological image that
Early Middle Ages, but none of the major Latin visions up to Saint Patrick's Purgatory
made room for purgatory, and neither did the anachronistic Sólarljóð.
Cf. on the author, Björn M. Ólsen in comment on the almsgiving in stanza 69,
Sljð. II, p. 57, and Falk in Sljð. I, p. 54: 'Han hadde, som saa mange islændinger i Stur-
lungtiden, staat med et ben i kristendommen og med det andet i hedendommens livs-
moral.' More one cannot say; Paasche's attribution of Sólarljóð to Hrafn Sveinbjarnar-
son in Hedenskap og kristendom, pp. 206-08, exceeds the evidence, leaving up in the air
the date of ca. 1200 for Sólarljóð that Foote favors in 'Three Dream-Stanzas in Hrafns
saga Sveinbjarnarsonar,' his Festschrift contribution to Sagnaskemmtun, ed. Rudolf Si-
mek et al., Vienna 1986, p. 109.
Falk, Sljð. I, p. 22, as against Björn M. Ólsen, Sljð. II, p. 42, whose reading of
the poem is perversely antisymbolic. 'Solen er solen,' as Paasche puts it in Hedenskap,
p. 181, 'og samtidig er det som skalden gjennem den ser inn til Kristus.'