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Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

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Gamli kanóki (Gamlkan)

12th century; volume 7; ed. Katrina Attwood;

2. Jónsdrápa (Jóndr) - 4

Gamli kanóki ‘canon Gamli’ (where the name Gamli, ‘the old one’ may itself be a nickname) is best known as the author of the poem Harmsól ‘Sun of Sorrow’, which is explicitly ascribed to him in a marginal note at the beginning of the poem on fol. 12r, l. 42 of the sole surviving ms., AM 757 a 4° (B): Harmsol er gamle orti kanokeHarmsól, which canon Gamli composed’. Gamli is also mentioned by name in Jóns saga postula (Jón4), where the author of the prose text prefaces the quotation of four sts from Gamli’s Jónsdrápa with the information: Annan mann til óðgirðar signaðum Johanni nefnum vér Gamla kanunk austr í Þykkvabœ, hann orti drápu dyrligum Johanni ‘As the second man to have composed a poem to blessed John we [I] name canon Gamli in the east at Þykkvabœr, he composed a drápa to S. John’ (Jón4 1874, 510). In a remark before the fourth st. Gamli is referred to as bróðir Gamli ‘Brother Gamli’ (Jón4 1874, 511). Þykkvabœr was an Augustinian monastery in south-eastern Iceland founded in 1168; Gamli was thus an Augustinian canon (or canon regular) of this community. His floruit can be inferred from the date of the foundation of Þykkvabœr as being in the mid- to late C12th.

file 2006-12-15 - Gamli kanoki w. MCR corrections

Jónsdrápa (‘Drápa about the Apostle John’) — Gamlkan JóndrVII

Beatrice La Farge 2007, ‘ Gamli kanóki, Jónsdrápa’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 133-6. <> (accessed 23 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4 

Skj: Gamli kanóki: 1. Jóansdrápa (AI, 561, BI, 547-8)

in texts: Jón4

SkP info: VII, 133-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


Four sts of Jónsdrápa Drápa about the Apostle John’ (Gamlkan Jóndr) composed by Gamli kanóki in honour of John the Apostle, to whom the fourth Gospel and the Book of Revelation were traditionally attributed, are preserved in a sole ms., AM 649 a 4° (649a, c. 1350-1400), where they are quoted at the end of a version of Jóns saga postula (Jón4; on this ms., see Introduction to Ník Jóndr and Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 316). Three of the sts emphasise the special privileges granted to John; the fourth st. is a prayer for the forgiveness of sin.

In Jón4 the four sts are quoted in the same order as they appear below, with short explanations before each st. The sts are evidently extracts from a longer poem, as the remark made before the fourth st. quoted indicates: Nærr enda drápunnar setr bróðir Gamli bœnarform ... ‘Near the end of the drápa Brother Gamli places a st. in the form of a prayer ...’ (Jón4 1874, 511). Given the paucity of information, it is virtually impossible to make assertions about the content of the rest of this poem or about the position of the other three sts within it (see Lange 1958a, 83-4). The sts are composed in the metre hrynhent.

In Jón4 Gamli’s poem is twice called a drápa, hence the title used by previous eds and here as well. Since the name of the Apostle appears in st. 3 as Jón, this form has been adopted in the title, whereas Finnur Jónsson used the earlier form Jóan in Skj A and B.

Gamlkan Jóndr has been previously edited by Unger 1874 and, as an appendix to Unger’s edn of Jón4, by Sophus Bugge (1874, 933-4), as well as by Lange 1958a, Finnur Jónsson (Skj) and Kock (Skald).

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated