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:
Jómsvíkingadrápa

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.

notes
my abbr.

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

Emily Lethbridge 2012, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

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

SkP info: I, 970

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

13 — Bjbp Jóms 13I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 13’ 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. 970.

Búi lézk barr at fylgja
bǫðmildum Sigvalda
til hjǫrþrymu harðrar
hugprúðr vera síðan.
Hafa kvazk Hávarð vilja
hranna brjótr at gunni;
sér kvað hann eigi illa
Áslák í fǫr líka.

Síðan lézk hugprúðr Búi vera barr at fylgja bǫðmildum Sigvalda til {harðrar hjǫrþrymu}. {Brjótr hranna} kvazk hafa vilja Hávarð at gunni; hann kvað Áslák líka sér eigi illa í fǫr.

Courageous Búi then said he was ready to follow battle-liberal Sigvaldi into {hard sword-thunder} [BATTLE]. {The breaker of waves} [SEAFARER = Búi] said he wanted to have Hávarðr for the battle; he said Áslákr was not unpleasing to him on the journey.

Mss: R(53v)

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 13: AII, 4, BII, 3-4, Skald II, 2, NN §3255; Fms 11, 166, Fms 12, 243, Jvs 1879, 108-9, 132.

Notes: [2] bǫðmildum ‘battle-liberal’: This echoes heiptmildan ‘strife-liberal’, also describing Sigvaldi, in st. 12/2. — [5, 8] Hávarð; Áslák ‘Hávarðr; Áslákr’: Hávarðr hǫggvandi ‘Hewer’ and Áslákr hólmskalli ‘Island-Baldhead’ are said in Jvs (1879, 32) to have been obtained as war-captives by Sigvaldi and Þorkell, sons of Strút-Haraldr, during an expedition to the east (i Austur-ueg), and are described as big, strong men, unyielding and valiant. Presumably it is on this account that Sigvaldi thinks the men will be useful on their expedition. They are portrayed fighting fiercely in st. 26, but are overcome in st. 34. Hólm- ‘Island’ in Áslákr’s nickname could refer specifically to a duelling-ground (Fritzner: holmr 2). — [6] brjótr hranna ‘the breaker of waves [SEAFARER = Búi]’: The kenning clearly refers to Búi but appears to be incomplete. One would expect hranna ‘of waves’ to be part of a kenning such as ‘fire of the waves [GOLD]’, which would form a kenning for ‘generous man’ with brjótr ‘breaker, distributor’ (cf. Meissner 330-1). However, in this context brjótr seems to refer simply to cleaving the waves, and the kenning could refer to Búi as a seafaring warrior from the Baltic (cf. the Skj B translation vikingen ‘the viking’), or could possibly allude to him as a swimmer, famed for leaping from his ship once defeat is inevitable; see Note to st. 26/2 and sts 36-7 and for a possible precedent for a kenning for ‘swimmer’, see Note to Eyv Lv 4/7, 8. — [7] hann kvað ‘he said’: Hann is extrametrical. It is possible that it should be removed by normalisation, as is often the case in ms. texts of earlier poetry, but since the metre of Jóms is frequently irregular it is retained here. — [7, 8] líka sér eigi illa ‘was not unpleasing to him’: Lit. ‘to please him not badly’.

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