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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson (Bjbp)

13th century; volume 1; ed. Jonna Louis-Jensen;

Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) - 45

Skj info: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Orknøsk biskop, d. 1222. (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10).

Skj poems:

Bjarni Kolbeinsson (Bjbp) was born into a powerful family in the Orkney Islands, possibly c. 1150-60 (af Petersens, Jvs 1879, 122). His father was the Norwegian-Orcadian chieftain Kolbeinn hrúga ‘Heap’ and his mother was Herborg, a great-granddaughter of Páll jarl Þorfinnsson on the maternal side (see Ættaskrár [Genealogies] II in ÍF 35). Bjarni was also very well connected: he was a close friend of Haraldr jarl Maddaðarson (ÍF 35, 289), sent precious gifts to Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson in Iceland on three occasions (Guðrún P. Helgadóttir 1987, 2-3), and had connections with the Oddaverjar (see further Einar Ól. Sveinsson 1937, 17-18, 34-9).

Bjarni was Bishop of Orkney from 1188 (ÍF 35, 289) until his death on 15 September 1223. Among his achievements as bishop were the exhumation and canonisation of Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (ÍF 35, 282; SkP II, 575) and the extension of St Magnús’s Cathedral in Kirkwall. Bjarni was also a diplomat and is known to have travelled to Norway for political reasons in 1194-5, 1208-9, 1210, 1218 and 1223 (see Bugge 1875, 244; Holtsmark 1937a, 2-3); he probably died in Norway (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8, 46).

Bjarni is introduced as Bjarni skáld ‘Poet’ in Orkn (ÍF 35, 193), but Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) is the only literary work attributed to him in medieval sources. Suggestions that he compiled Orkn (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8) and the þulur in SnE (Bugge 1875) have not been generally accepted; see Introduction to Jóms below on the attribution of Anon Mhkv to Bjarni.

my abbr.

Jómsvíkingadrápa (‘Drápa about the Jómsvíkingar’) — Bjbp JómsI

Emily Lethbridge 2012, ‘ Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 954. <> (accessed 3 July 2022)

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Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson: Jómsvíkingadrápa (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4

SkP info: I, 959

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Bjbp Jóms 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 959.

Engan kveðk at óði
órum málma rýri
(þó gatk hróðr of hugðan)
hljóðs (atferðar prýði).
Framm mun ek fyr ǫldum
Yggjar bjór of fœra,
þó at engir ýtar
ættgóðir mér hlýði.


I call upon no {diminisher of metal weapons} [WARRIOR] for a hearing for our [my] poem; nonetheless, I have produced a praise-poem {about the courageous adorner of action}. [MAN] I will bring forth {the beer of Yggr} [POEM] before people, although no well-born men may listen to me.

context: The stanza is preserved only as part of a continuous text of Jóms in R and hence, together with sts 2-9, 13-16, 19, 21-5, 27, 28, 31, 35-7, 39 and 40, is not embedded in a narrative context.

notes: On the use of 65ˣ and the diplomatic texts in Jvs 1879 (siglum RCP when cited in Readings) and Skj A (siglum RFJ) as supplementary witnesses to the R reading, see Introduction to this poem. — The poet humorously inverts the conventional call for a hearing which opens many skaldic praise-poems (e.g. Eskál Vell 1; cf. Wood 1960a), calling for no-one’s attention, and anticipating that no-one will listen to his composition (though st. 5/7 envisages an audience). The subject of glorious martial deeds is paradigmatic but this, too, is shortly to be undercut by the abrupt change of subject to the poet’s disappointment in love (sts 2, 3, 6, and the stef). — [1-4]: Kveðja e-n e-s ‘to call on sby for sth.’ is well attested. In Fms 11 and 12, each couplet is taken as a syntactic unit and hljóðs ‘a hearing’ is not construed with kveðk ‘I call’; but the remainder of the interpretation departs unnecessarily from the legible text.

editions: Skj Bjarni Kolbeinsson: Jómsvíkingadrápa 1 (AII, 1; BII, 1); Skald II, 1; Fms 11, 163, Fms 12, 241, Jvs 1879, 104-5. 


GKS 2367 4° (R) 53r, 29 - 53r, 31  transcr.  image  image  image  
AM 65 folx (65x) 380r - 380r  image  
GKS 2367 4° (RCP) 104 - 105  
GKS 2367 4° (RFJ) -  
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