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, ‘(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, 977

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — Bjbp Jóms 21I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 21’ 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. 977.

Hauðr frák Hákun verja
hart, svát eigi skorti;
Eirekr hefr eggjar
ótrauðr verit rjóða.
Ok sǫgðu þar ýtar
Ármóð vera síðan
— sá var greppr við gumna
glaðr — hǫfðingja inn þriðja.

Frák Hákun verja hauðr hart, svát eigi skorti; Eirekr hefr verit ótrauðr rjóða eggjar. Ok ýtar sǫgðu þar síðan Ármóð vera inn þriðja hǫfðingja; sá greppr var glaðr við gumna.

I have heard that Hákon defended the land hard, so that nothing was lacking; Eiríkr was not reluctant to redden sword-edges. And men said that Ármóðr was then the third commander there; that man was cheerful towards [his] men.

Mss: R(53v), 65ˣ(381v)

Readings: [3] hefr: ‘hef[…]’ R, ‘hetir’ 65ˣ, hefir RCP, RFJ    [4] rjóða: ‘[…]’ R, rjóða 65ˣ, RCP, RFJ    [5] Ok: ‘[…]’ R, ok 65ˣ, RCP, RFJ;    sǫgðu: ‘[…]avgðv’ R, lǫgðu 65ˣ, sǫgðu RCP, RFJ    [8] þriðja: ‘[…]iþia’ R, om. 65ˣ, ‘(þriþia)’(?) RCP, þriðja RFJ

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 21: AII, 5, BII, 5, Skald II, 3; Fms 11, 168-9, Fms 12, 244, Jvs 1879, 110-11.

Notes: [1] verja hauðr ‘defended the land’: The phrase verja hauðr (here part of an acc. with inf. construction) is repeated in st. 22/3. — [2] hart, svát eigi skorti ‘hard, so that nothing was lacking’: The line closely resembles ESk Lv 1/3II. — [3] Eirekr hefr eggjar: The line has only five syllables. Reading the younger form hefir (as in RCP, RFJ) would supply an extra syllable, but hefr is the normal form in Jóms. — [4] ótrauðr ‘not reluctant’: The adj. is also found in sts 5/2 and 36/8. — [6] Ármóð ‘Ármóðr’: Ármóðr from Ǫnundarfjǫrðr and his son Árni are named among the leaders of the Norwegian army in Jvs 1879, 71. In ÓT, Ármóðr is described as a great champion, though this may derive from the poem (Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 78), and he is not specifically named as a commander in Eiríkr jarl’s troop. See also st. 29 and Context on Ármóðr and his fate.

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