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Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson (Bjbp)

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

Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) - 45

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 6 July 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45 

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

SkP info: I, 962

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Bjbp Jóms 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 4’ 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. 962.

Varkak und forsum;
fórk aldrigi at gǫldrum;

Ǫllungis namk eigi
Yggjar feng und hanga

fleinstríðir mér óðar.


I was not under waterfalls; I never engaged in enchantments; I have not . I did not at all learn {the booty of Yggr} [POETRY] under the hanged one … {arrow-harmer} [WARRIOR] … to meof the poem

notes: On the ordering of sts 2-5, see Introduction. Ms. 65ˣ (ll. 1-2 only) and the printed texts RCP and RFJ are used as supplementary witnesses to the R readings here; again see Introduction. Finnur Jónsson (RFJ, in Skj A II, 2) acknowledges relying on the RCP (af Petersens, in Jvs 1879) readings for this stanza, but has made out enough to believe them correct. From what can be ascertained from the poorly-preserved text, it seems that the poet continues his caricature of the opening of a traditional drápa (see Note to ll. 1-2 below). — [1-2]: The skald (who became a bishop, if the identification with Bjarni Kolbeinsson is correct), seems to distance himself from the traditional association of poetry with Óðinn and hence with magic. Although certainty is impossible given the state of the text, this would be supported by ll. 5-6 as read by Finnur Jónsson and af Petersens. — [5-6]: These lines are now illegible, but the RCP and RFJ readings above suggest that they refer to the myth of the mead of poetry (cf. Note to st. 1/6), again alluding to, yet rejecting, the association of poetry with Óðinn. Hangi can refer either to a hanged man or to Óðinn (LP: hangi), and the god is said both to have sat under hanged men (Yng, ÍF 26, 18) and to have hanged himself on a tree (Hávm 138-41); see also Haugen (1983); Schjødt (1993); Lassen (2010, 190-1).

editions: Skj Bjarni Kolbeinsson: Jómsvíkingadrápa 2 (AII, 2; BII, 1); Skald II, 1; Fms 11, 164, Fms 12, 242, Jvs 1879, 104-5.


GKS 2367 4° (R) 53r, 36 - 53r, 37  transcr.  image  image  image  
AM 65 folx (65x) 380r - 380r [1-2]  image  
GKS 2367 4° (RCP) 53r, 31 - 53r, 33  image  image  image  
GKS 2367 4° (RFJ) 53r, 31 - 53r, 33  image  image  image  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated